Friday, March 28, 2014

How do you reenter the interblogs after a 3-month absence? Make an awkward joke about it? GET REALLY EXCITED AND TALK IN CAPITAL LETTERS?!?!?! Or just act like you've been here the whole time?

Let's see:

  • The perma-stench resulting from not showering created a film that covered my eyes so I lost the ability to see my computer screen. That's funny, see, because I live in Oregon now.
  • GUYS, I'VE MISSED YOU SOOOOO MUCH, THERE'S SOOOOO MUCH TO CATCH YOU UP ON WHERE DO I START!!!!!!!
  • Today's run was just what I needed.

Because we like to appeal to the masses here at JJ-o, we're going to approach this in a "choose your own adventure" kind of way and let you decide which opening you prefer. Unfortunately, "interesting and appropriate" opening is unavailable. Deal with it.

----

So I find myself near the end of my Spring Break, which means another quarter of grad school has come and gone! You'll be happy to know that my soul has not yet been crushed, and I'm trucking on as merrily as ever. I mean, don't get me wrong - grad school is f-cking hard. By far the hardest thing I've ever done. But I'm loving much of what I'm studying and going through it with an awesome group of people. Also, my hard work is paying off - I'm going to teach this coming quarter! I'm pretty excited (terrified?) about that one.

I even sort of found a balance between school and working out, something that completely eluded me last quarter. I realized that my expectations for myself were much too high - Hanson-style mileage or bust. That was a recipe for disaster. This past quarter, I took a more moderate approach and was able to do some sort of workout 5-6 days a week. It helped that my earliest class was at 10:00 a.m. because waking up before 7:00 is a non-starter for me.

I've mostly been running, hiking, erging - which is surprisingly tolerable these days - and doing THE CORE. I even hopped in the pool yesterday. That was... something that I did. My form's the worst but I push myself pretty hard. Unfortunately, I still wake up the next day wondering whether I even worked out. Then again, that's my reaction to pretty much anything that isn't running. I don't have any races on the horizon but that should change if/once I pass my exams in July.

----

Well, I'm glad we got that out of the way relatively painlessly. Let's talk about Spring Break!

Spring Break got off to an... unhealthy start. Eventually, though, most of my friends left town, which gave me an opportunity to get out by myself and do some exploring. I'm usually able to convince a friend or two to come hiking with me, but there's a wide range of abilities and a general lack of time/willingness to do anything longer than a few gentle miles, which meant I hadn't done any real hiking in ages. It was time.

So this past Monday I hopped in my car, headed north-ish, and didn't stop until I hit the Deschutes River.

100 or so miles east of Portland.

My only requirement was "no f-cking trees, please" (I know, I know, trees are life! oxygen! science!, but they also block EVERY nice view in Oregon) and man, did this place deliver. Nary a tree to be found! It was also dry, which was a plus.

It was pretty tame hiking but with plenty to look at, I didn't really care. In fact, both days I hiked out and ran back, which worked out perfectly. This would be a great place for a race.

Tame hiking, easy running.


The good AND bad thing about being from Alaska: very little exposure to snakes = very little fear of snakes. I wasn't actually nearly as close as this picture suggests, but I also wasn't screaming my head off. This guy was huge.

Since it took so long to get there, I decided to camp for the night. I had never actually camped by myself so was eager to see what it was like.

View from the campground.

Well, initially I was all, "So woman, much brave, will definitely sleep in my tent tonight..." *

Which lasted all of two hours. I dozed off briefly before waking with a start, convinced I was about to be murdered, and hightailing it to my car, where I spent the rest of the night. I think I would have been a lot more comfortable had I not been surrounded by people. As it was, I created a murderous backstory for every single person I encountered ("That 6-year-old lulls people into a false sense of security before going Damien on their ass") and couldn't chill out. Ah well, baby steps. 

After a semi-sleepless night, I got another hike in before hitting the road back to Eugene. Because I had time, I made a couple of side trips to check out the scenery. The Columbia River Gorge is pretty.

Multnomah Falls. Blah blah cut off a lot of the waterfall blah blah deal with it.





This is from another hike I did over break. My intended destination was something called "Bohemia Mountain," but the road was steep, windy, desolate, and covered in snow, which I didn't want to deal with. I had to settle for trees.

This wasn't an intentional footprint but, you know, minimalism dictated that I take a picture of it.

----

So that's all I've got in the way of life updates. My phone died a while back and I failed to replace it in a timely manner (yes, actually, it was a really hard and emotional time), so consequently there's a pretty lengthy period of time for which I have no pictures.  By which I mean it didn't happen (because, you know, pics or shens). Suffice it to say, I did some things and saw some places.

Have a good one! I'll try to check in every once in a while but no promises.

* is that an appropriate use of that joke? Because it's one of my favorites and I'm determined to use it as much as possible.

So Woman, Much Brave

How do you reenter the interblogs after a 3-month absence? Make an awkward joke about it? GET REALLY EXCITED AND TALK IN CAPITAL LETTERS?!?!?! Or just act like you've been here the whole time?

Let's see:

  • The perma-stench resulting from not showering created a film that covered my eyes so I lost the ability to see my computer screen. That's funny, see, because I live in Oregon now.
  • GUYS, I'VE MISSED YOU SOOOOO MUCH, THERE'S SOOOOO MUCH TO CATCH YOU UP ON WHERE DO I START!!!!!!!
  • Today's run was just what I needed.

Because we like to appeal to the masses here at JJ-o, we're going to approach this in a "choose your own adventure" kind of way and let you decide which opening you prefer. Unfortunately, "interesting and appropriate" opening is unavailable. Deal with it.

----

So I find myself near the end of my Spring Break, which means another quarter of grad school has come and gone! You'll be happy to know that my soul has not yet been crushed, and I'm trucking on as merrily as ever. I mean, don't get me wrong - grad school is f-cking hard. By far the hardest thing I've ever done. But I'm loving much of what I'm studying and going through it with an awesome group of people. Also, my hard work is paying off - I'm going to teach this coming quarter! I'm pretty excited (terrified?) about that one.

I even sort of found a balance between school and working out, something that completely eluded me last quarter. I realized that my expectations for myself were much too high - Hanson-style mileage or bust. That was a recipe for disaster. This past quarter, I took a more moderate approach and was able to do some sort of workout 5-6 days a week. It helped that my earliest class was at 10:00 a.m. because waking up before 7:00 is a non-starter for me.

I've mostly been running, hiking, erging - which is surprisingly tolerable these days - and doing THE CORE. I even hopped in the pool yesterday. That was... something that I did. My form's the worst but I push myself pretty hard. Unfortunately, I still wake up the next day wondering whether I even worked out. Then again, that's my reaction to pretty much anything that isn't running. I don't have any races on the horizon but that should change if/once I pass my exams in July.

----

Well, I'm glad we got that out of the way relatively painlessly. Let's talk about Spring Break!

Spring Break got off to an... unhealthy start. Eventually, though, most of my friends left town, which gave me an opportunity to get out by myself and do some exploring. I'm usually able to convince a friend or two to come hiking with me, but there's a wide range of abilities and a general lack of time/willingness to do anything longer than a few gentle miles, which meant I hadn't done any real hiking in ages. It was time.

So this past Monday I hopped in my car, headed north-ish, and didn't stop until I hit the Deschutes River.

100 or so miles east of Portland.

My only requirement was "no f-cking trees, please" (I know, I know, trees are life! oxygen! science!, but they also block EVERY nice view in Oregon) and man, did this place deliver. Nary a tree to be found! It was also dry, which was a plus.

It was pretty tame hiking but with plenty to look at, I didn't really care. In fact, both days I hiked out and ran back, which worked out perfectly. This would be a great place for a race.

Tame hiking, easy running.


The good AND bad thing about being from Alaska: very little exposure to snakes = very little fear of snakes. I wasn't actually nearly as close as this picture suggests, but I also wasn't screaming my head off. This guy was huge.

Since it took so long to get there, I decided to camp for the night. I had never actually camped by myself so was eager to see what it was like.

View from the campground.

Well, initially I was all, "So woman, much brave, will definitely sleep in my tent tonight..." *

Which lasted all of two hours. I dozed off briefly before waking with a start, convinced I was about to be murdered, and hightailing it to my car, where I spent the rest of the night. I think I would have been a lot more comfortable had I not been surrounded by people. As it was, I created a murderous backstory for every single person I encountered ("That 6-year-old lulls people into a false sense of security before going Damien on their ass") and couldn't chill out. Ah well, baby steps. 

After a semi-sleepless night, I got another hike in before hitting the road back to Eugene. Because I had time, I made a couple of side trips to check out the scenery. The Columbia River Gorge is pretty.

Multnomah Falls. Blah blah cut off a lot of the waterfall blah blah deal with it.





This is from another hike I did over break. My intended destination was something called "Bohemia Mountain," but the road was steep, windy, desolate, and covered in snow, which I didn't want to deal with. I had to settle for trees.

This wasn't an intentional footprint but, you know, minimalism dictated that I take a picture of it.

----

So that's all I've got in the way of life updates. My phone died a while back and I failed to replace it in a timely manner (yes, actually, it was a really hard and emotional time), so consequently there's a pretty lengthy period of time for which I have no pictures.  By which I mean it didn't happen (because, you know, pics or shens). Suffice it to say, I did some things and saw some places.

Have a good one! I'll try to check in every once in a while but no promises.

* is that an appropriate use of that joke? Because it's one of my favorites and I'm determined to use it as much as possible.

Friday, January 3, 2014

I’m sitting in the Portland airport right now trying to pass 4 ½ hours until my shuttle comes. Isn’t it a wonderful thing, taking a red-eye out of Anchorage, arriving in under three hours thanks to a strong tail wind, and then… realizing you can’t just, like, show up and have a ride to Eugene waiting for you at 6:30 a.m.?

This was my realization approximately twenty minutes ago. It seems you actually have to plan these things for them to happen, and it also seems people here don’t do things before 11:00 a.m. At least, that’s my conclusion based on available buses/shuttles to Eugene. That there’s sound science.

In case it’s not obvious, I’m delirious. I have some “airplane anxiety” (code words for “I’m that batshit flyer no one wants to sit next to”), so I played Sudoku for the duration of the flight (yes, I am that smart, interesting, and handsome in real life), which means I’m going to spend the next few hours figuring out how to tape my eyes open using only the internet and common sense.

----

So, guys, you know the drill: new year, new us!! Let’s start with a little recap, and then we’ll recap that recap. When we’re done with that, we’ll talk resolutions, weight loss, and starting the year off right!

Said a bunch of boring people.

Actually, recaps are fine. I’m recapped out, to be honest, but given that I did my own recap, I can’t very well knock others for doing the same. OR CAN I?

Honestly, unless you’re getting married (side note: Professor Amy’s wedding was the chillest blog event ever, right? Loved it) or have a hilarious holiday story that ends with someone in prison (AS ANY GOOD STORY SHOULD), I’m probably not interested anymore. 2013 was sooo last year.

So my little Alaskan adventure has come to an end. Once I finish my precious last piece of Moose’s Tooth pizza (UP YOUR PIZZA GAME, EUGENE), it’s time to ditch the bra, don my flannel hemp trousers, and grease up the dreads because I’m back in Oregon, baby! That, I believe, is an accurate description of Oregonian women according to nobody.

It was an awesome escape. I was able to do whatever I felt like without a care in the world. Okay, that’s a lie; I had many cares. For example: “Do I go hiking, skiing, or sledding?”


 


Or all three. This is a terrible photo of a remarkable sledding hill.


AHAHAHAHAHA. But seriously, that poor dog. We ended up cutting those off of her.

Or, “Do I want two pieces of Moose’s Tooth or six?” (THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS SIX)

Even more distressing: “Do I want to sleep for sixteen hours or only twelve so I can wake up at the butt crack of 10:00 a.m. to watch the sun rise?”

 
We woke up early to watch the sun rise… on the wrong side of the mountain.



There's that rascal sun.

Steeeeeeep.

It was a trying time.

----

Did I just recap? I think I recapped. I give up.

----

Anyway, it's been fun to get back into blogging. Same time next year?

Would You Like Some Recap With That Recap?

I’m sitting in the Portland airport right now trying to pass 4 ½ hours until my shuttle comes. Isn’t it a wonderful thing, taking a red-eye out of Anchorage, arriving in under three hours thanks to a strong tail wind, and then… realizing you can’t just, like, show up and have a ride to Eugene waiting for you at 6:30 a.m.?

This was my realization approximately twenty minutes ago. It seems you actually have to plan these things for them to happen, and it also seems people here don’t do things before 11:00 a.m. At least, that’s my conclusion based on available buses/shuttles to Eugene. That there’s sound science.

In case it’s not obvious, I’m delirious. I have some “airplane anxiety” (code words for “I’m that batshit flyer no one wants to sit next to”), so I played Sudoku for the duration of the flight (yes, I am that smart, interesting, and handsome in real life), which means I’m going to spend the next few hours figuring out how to tape my eyes open using only the internet and common sense.

----

So, guys, you know the drill: new year, new us!! Let’s start with a little recap, and then we’ll recap that recap. When we’re done with that, we’ll talk resolutions, weight loss, and starting the year off right!

Said a bunch of boring people.

Actually, recaps are fine. I’m recapped out, to be honest, but given that I did my own recap, I can’t very well knock others for doing the same. OR CAN I?

Honestly, unless you’re getting married (side note: Professor Amy’s wedding was the chillest blog event ever, right? Loved it) or have a hilarious holiday story that ends with someone in prison (AS ANY GOOD STORY SHOULD), I’m probably not interested anymore. 2013 was sooo last year.

So my little Alaskan adventure has come to an end. Once I finish my precious last piece of Moose’s Tooth pizza (UP YOUR PIZZA GAME, EUGENE), it’s time to ditch the bra, don my flannel hemp trousers, and grease up the dreads because I’m back in Oregon, baby! That, I believe, is an accurate description of Oregonian women according to nobody.

It was an awesome escape. I was able to do whatever I felt like without a care in the world. Okay, that’s a lie; I had many cares. For example: “Do I go hiking, skiing, or sledding?”


 


Or all three. This is a terrible photo of a remarkable sledding hill.


AHAHAHAHAHA. But seriously, that poor dog. We ended up cutting those off of her.

Or, “Do I want two pieces of Moose’s Tooth or six?” (THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS SIX)

Even more distressing: “Do I want to sleep for sixteen hours or only twelve so I can wake up at the butt crack of 10:00 a.m. to watch the sun rise?”

 
We woke up early to watch the sun rise… on the wrong side of the mountain.



There's that rascal sun.

Steeeeeeep.

It was a trying time.

----

Did I just recap? I think I recapped. I give up.

----

Anyway, it's been fun to get back into blogging. Same time next year?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

This post is a long time coming and approximately six months overdue.

See, this one time I ran a marathon. This past June, in fact. I put a ton of hard work into training and was rewarded with an awesome race day. Finishing the marathon wasn't the life-changing event I think it was supposed to be, but it was SO MUCH FUN.


SO MUCH FUN

One of the main reasons I enjoyed marathon training (and the marathon itself) so much is that I followed the Hanson Method. If you've been around the interblogs for any length of time, you've probably heard of this plan. You know, run every day but max out at 16 miles. The plan that crazy people follow.

Although my glory days are behind me (and yet to come, hopefully? I don't think it's a stretch to call the present the "not-so-glory" running days), a lot of people continue to stumble upon this blog via Hanson searches on Google, the most common of which is some variation of "WHAT IS UP WITH THE HANSON TAPER ARE THEY CRAZY WILL I DIE?" Which led me to realize that I never actually talked about the taper after the race! So, given how much I freaked out about it at the time, I figured I owe it to all the Hanson wannabes out there to give my opinion post-race.

Before I do that, though, here are some posts on the Hanson Method, now in one easy-to-find place!

Hanson Method And A Hike - the beginning of the end (or, my thoughts prior to starting the plan)
Let's Talk Hanson Tempos - my thoughts on running tempos at a significantly slower pace than most training plans
Hansons!! Where's My Taper Time? - freaking out about running a billion miles just prior to the race.
"It's Mostly Pictures, I Swear!" Mayor's Marathon Recap - the marathon recap, in case you're interested.
Hanson Method Review - my overall impressions

My Review of the Hanson Marathon Method - I didn't actually write this, but it's a good and very thorough review from Gina (the Runivore), who also had a lot of success with the plan.


Anyway, you can breathe easy, Hanson-ees, because the Hanson taper is awesome. It truly is. This will likely come as a shock because Runner's World and "common sense" tell us this can't possibly be the case, but it is!

First, the Hanson philosophy vis-a-vis taper:

"... consider how you would feel if you were accustomed to drinking a couple of cups of coffee in the morning and then suddenly gave it up cold turkey. Your body probably will react with a dull headache. If instead you cut back to one cup, you limit the effects of withdrawal and usually end up feeling better. This is the same idea - reduce the stress while keeping the body happy and in its preestablished routine. By continuing to run fewer miles, but still running the same number of days, you reduce the number of variables that are adjusted. Instead of reducing frequency, volume, and intensity, you are tinkering only with the last two."

This, for me, proved true. From what I've read, the main issues people deal with while tapering are:

1) losing fitness (in fact, the Hansons do believe a 2 - 4 - week taper will cause you to lose fitness)
2) being even more tired/sluggish than during peak training
3) going insane from being sedentary

I didn't have to deal with any of these things. My main concern was that I was unnecessarily wearing myself out, but that concern faded a few days before the marathon. And on race day, I felt fantastic: no aches/pains, fresh legs, optimistic and excited to run. It's impossible to know whether I would have felt better had I tapered differently, but looking back it's hard to see how it could have gone any better than it did.

I haven't read anyone else's thoughts on the Hanson taper (Gina didn't run for a couple of weeks prior to her race because of shin pain) so my experience could well be unique. I think you'll be successful with this plan no matter how you taper, but if/when I use it for a future race, I plan to follow their taper again.

HANSON TAPER (Six Months Too Late)

This post is a long time coming and approximately six months overdue.

See, this one time I ran a marathon. This past June, in fact. I put a ton of hard work into training and was rewarded with an awesome race day. Finishing the marathon wasn't the life-changing event I think it was supposed to be, but it was SO MUCH FUN.


SO MUCH FUN

One of the main reasons I enjoyed marathon training (and the marathon itself) so much is that I followed the Hanson Method. If you've been around the interblogs for any length of time, you've probably heard of this plan. You know, run every day but max out at 16 miles. The plan that crazy people follow.

Although my glory days are behind me (and yet to come, hopefully? I don't think it's a stretch to call the present the "not-so-glory" running days), a lot of people continue to stumble upon this blog via Hanson searches on Google, the most common of which is some variation of "WHAT IS UP WITH THE HANSON TAPER ARE THEY CRAZY WILL I DIE?" Which led me to realize that I never actually talked about the taper after the race! So, given how much I freaked out about it at the time, I figured I owe it to all the Hanson wannabes out there to give my opinion post-race.

Before I do that, though, here are some posts on the Hanson Method, now in one easy-to-find place!

Hanson Method And A Hike - the beginning of the end (or, my thoughts prior to starting the plan)
Let's Talk Hanson Tempos - my thoughts on running tempos at a significantly slower pace than most training plans
Hansons!! Where's My Taper Time? - freaking out about running a billion miles just prior to the race.
"It's Mostly Pictures, I Swear!" Mayor's Marathon Recap - the marathon recap, in case you're interested.
Hanson Method Review - my overall impressions

My Review of the Hanson Marathon Method - I didn't actually write this, but it's a good and very thorough review from Gina (the Runivore), who also had a lot of success with the plan.


Anyway, you can breathe easy, Hanson-ees, because the Hanson taper is awesome. It truly is. This will likely come as a shock because Runner's World and "common sense" tell us this can't possibly be the case, but it is!

First, the Hanson philosophy vis-a-vis taper:

"... consider how you would feel if you were accustomed to drinking a couple of cups of coffee in the morning and then suddenly gave it up cold turkey. Your body probably will react with a dull headache. If instead you cut back to one cup, you limit the effects of withdrawal and usually end up feeling better. This is the same idea - reduce the stress while keeping the body happy and in its preestablished routine. By continuing to run fewer miles, but still running the same number of days, you reduce the number of variables that are adjusted. Instead of reducing frequency, volume, and intensity, you are tinkering only with the last two."

This, for me, proved true. From what I've read, the main issues people deal with while tapering are:

1) losing fitness (in fact, the Hansons do believe a 2 - 4 - week taper will cause you to lose fitness)
2) being even more tired/sluggish than during peak training
3) going insane from being sedentary

I didn't have to deal with any of these things. My main concern was that I was unnecessarily wearing myself out, but that concern faded a few days before the marathon. And on race day, I felt fantastic: no aches/pains, fresh legs, optimistic and excited to run. It's impossible to know whether I would have felt better had I tapered differently, but looking back it's hard to see how it could have gone any better than it did.

I haven't read anyone else's thoughts on the Hanson taper (Gina didn't run for a couple of weeks prior to her race because of shin pain) so my experience could well be unique. I think you'll be successful with this plan no matter how you taper, but if/when I use it for a future race, I plan to follow their taper again.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

This year's Christmas haul was insane because my parents are insane. Every year I tell them I don't want anything and yet every year I find myself almost literally swimming in gifts, a la Scrooge McDuck. Really tough life over here.

Anyway, this blog claims to be sports-related when I bother to do sports-related things so I figured I'd tell you about my sports-related gift: Yurbud Headphones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DISCLAIMER: THESE HEADPHONES WERE GIVEN TO ME FOR FREE BY MY PARENTS. I DID NOT AND WOULD NOT PAY MONEY FOR HEADPHONES I DON'T NEED.

I didn't want new headphones for Christmas. I have three pairs of Apple earbuds from various electronic purchases over the past few years and they work great (and stay in my ear while running). I don't ask a lot from my headphones. I'm not looking for an "audio experience" or whatever; I just want to be able to hear my shit. Apple earbuds have performed exceptionally well in this regard. But hey, I didn't know I needed a Garmin until I got one of those, so there's hope yet!


This is how excited I was about my headphones. And no, I'm not the most miserable person on the planet. My mom just thinks it's funny when I scowl in pictures. She also can't get over the shiny patch on my forehead.


So let's talk about Yurbuds! First off: Yurbuds? That's a terrible name. Like, they're not my buds but yur buds? If we're being dumb and illiterate here, why aren't they ur buds or you're buds or thurrrrrr buds? Maybe it references some super-sporty tri thing I'm not cool enough to know about, but I think the company name blows.

Anyway, my thoughts, in order, as I examined my gift:


Oh, here's a picture so you know what I'm talking about, although... are those Apple headphones underneath? They might be. Picture taken from here - don't sue me for being too lazy to take my own

  • What the f-ck? Why is the bud thing shaped so strangely and how is it supposed to fit in my ear?
  • What's up with all this rubber? It's been three seconds and it's already covered in Bailey hair
  • This cord is made of... string? I could Cat's Cradle with this thing
  • I will now attempt to shove this strange contraption in my ear
  • It doesn't fit in my ear - do I just push until it works?
  • What the hell - I've been doing this for five minutes and have made no discernible progress
  • ARE THESE EARBUDS MADE FOR MUTANTS?
  • My ears are obviously deformed. Do I need to do something about that?
  • Wait, I think I got - no, never mind, definitely not
  • I give up
A few hours later, fueled by Christmas dinner...
  • Okay, we're going to give this ONE MORE SHOT. If it doesn't work, they're going back to the mutant-infested pit they crawled out of
  • Oh, THERE it is. Of course
So, yeah. Getting them in my ear was a struggle and it was frustrating. But now that I've figured that out (put them in sideways and twist!), they do seem pretty secure in my ear. So much so, in fact, that I kind of feel like my ear's going to rip off my head if the cord ever gets caught on something.

The sound quality seems pretty good too, if you're into that kind of thing, and the volume has a wide range. These get much louder than my other headphones. An example: I plugged them into my computer, un-paused the song I had been listening to with my Apple earbuds, and had to remove them immediately because it was so loud. This would be good in windy conditions as long as you're not in danger of getting hit by a car or whatever.

One more thing about the sound: when the volume's up really high, you can definitely hear what's playing from a distance. This is annoying if you're listening to, like, 98 Degrees and don't want anyone else to know.

I already mentioned that the cord is pretty whack, but I'm kind of obsessed with it. It is so unlike any other I've felt. I'd say it feels similar to a thin bungee cord except, obviously, it doesn't stretch. However, when the cord rubs against clothing, the sound travels up to your ears. This is annoying but not a deal-breaker.

So, bottom line: do you need to get yourself a pair? Absolutely not. But if your run-of-the-mill earbuds don't seem to stay in your ear, you might consider giving them a shot.

Update: it's come to my attention that these headphones cost something like $70. How?!?!???!?!?!?!?! For that price, no way. Not worth it.

My Sports-Related Gift

This year's Christmas haul was insane because my parents are insane. Every year I tell them I don't want anything and yet every year I find myself almost literally swimming in gifts, a la Scrooge McDuck. Really tough life over here.

Anyway, this blog claims to be sports-related when I bother to do sports-related things so I figured I'd tell you about my sports-related gift: Yurbud Headphones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DISCLAIMER: THESE HEADPHONES WERE GIVEN TO ME FOR FREE BY MY PARENTS. I DID NOT AND WOULD NOT PAY MONEY FOR HEADPHONES I DON'T NEED.

I didn't want new headphones for Christmas. I have three pairs of Apple earbuds from various electronic purchases over the past few years and they work great (and stay in my ear while running). I don't ask a lot from my headphones. I'm not looking for an "audio experience" or whatever; I just want to be able to hear my shit. Apple earbuds have performed exceptionally well in this regard. But hey, I didn't know I needed a Garmin until I got one of those, so there's hope yet!


This is how excited I was about my headphones. And no, I'm not the most miserable person on the planet. My mom just thinks it's funny when I scowl in pictures. She also can't get over the shiny patch on my forehead.


So let's talk about Yurbuds! First off: Yurbuds? That's a terrible name. Like, they're not my buds but yur buds? If we're being dumb and illiterate here, why aren't they ur buds or you're buds or thurrrrrr buds? Maybe it references some super-sporty tri thing I'm not cool enough to know about, but I think the company name blows.

Anyway, my thoughts, in order, as I examined my gift:


Oh, here's a picture so you know what I'm talking about, although... are those Apple headphones underneath? They might be. Picture taken from here - don't sue me for being too lazy to take my own

  • What the f-ck? Why is the bud thing shaped so strangely and how is it supposed to fit in my ear?
  • What's up with all this rubber? It's been three seconds and it's already covered in Bailey hair
  • This cord is made of... string? I could Cat's Cradle with this thing
  • I will now attempt to shove this strange contraption in my ear
  • It doesn't fit in my ear - do I just push until it works?
  • What the hell - I've been doing this for five minutes and have made no discernible progress
  • ARE THESE EARBUDS MADE FOR MUTANTS?
  • My ears are obviously deformed. Do I need to do something about that?
  • Wait, I think I got - no, never mind, definitely not
  • I give up
A few hours later, fueled by Christmas dinner...
  • Okay, we're going to give this ONE MORE SHOT. If it doesn't work, they're going back to the mutant-infested pit they crawled out of
  • Oh, THERE it is. Of course
So, yeah. Getting them in my ear was a struggle and it was frustrating. But now that I've figured that out (put them in sideways and twist!), they do seem pretty secure in my ear. So much so, in fact, that I kind of feel like my ear's going to rip off my head if the cord ever gets caught on something.

The sound quality seems pretty good too, if you're into that kind of thing, and the volume has a wide range. These get much louder than my other headphones. An example: I plugged them into my computer, un-paused the song I had been listening to with my Apple earbuds, and had to remove them immediately because it was so loud. This would be good in windy conditions as long as you're not in danger of getting hit by a car or whatever.

One more thing about the sound: when the volume's up really high, you can definitely hear what's playing from a distance. This is annoying if you're listening to, like, 98 Degrees and don't want anyone else to know.

I already mentioned that the cord is pretty whack, but I'm kind of obsessed with it. It is so unlike any other I've felt. I'd say it feels similar to a thin bungee cord except, obviously, it doesn't stretch. However, when the cord rubs against clothing, the sound travels up to your ears. This is annoying but not a deal-breaker.

So, bottom line: do you need to get yourself a pair? Absolutely not. But if your run-of-the-mill earbuds don't seem to stay in your ear, you might consider giving them a shot.

Update: it's come to my attention that these headphones cost something like $70. How?!?!???!?!?!?!?! For that price, no way. Not worth it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

As part of my life update chunking I had planned to tell you guys about school, but then I realized that school's boring. Or, I saw Jill Outside's 2013 in Pictures and immediately became obsessed with her idea. What you see here is a much less thoughtful version, though; I basically chose what I judge to be the "prettiest" shot from each month of the past year.

Jill's totally got me beat (at photography, athleticism, and life, if we're being honest), but here are my own picks for 2013:

[I decided to be radical and present these in their non-Instagrammed form. I've done a bit of photo soul-searching recently and think I'm experiencing Instagram burn-out. That said, iPhone cameras make everything look more drab than it actually is]

January: View from a run on the Coastal Trail


For those not in the know, Anchorage's Coastal Trail starts at Kincaid Park and finishes downtown about eight miles later. The trail runs along the water and is a scenic, flat place to run.

During the summer people flock to this section of the trail, but last winter I often had it to myself. When it's cold out, the ocean freezes, which is what's going on here.

February: a winter trip up Flattop




Flattop gets kind of a bad rap because its accessibility makes it the most-hiked peak in the area by far. For much of the year, summiting via the regular route is sort of like climbing Chilkoot Pass during the Gold Rush. Last February, however, my friend and I went up after a heavy snowfall. The going was incredibly slow and we often found ourselves breaking trail through waist-deep snow, but the prize was totally worth the effort. It was a beautiful, sunny day and since marathon training had just started, was my last hike until July. When done right, Flattop's actually a great hike.

March: a run on the road past Point Woronzof, right next to the Anchorage airport.




March was a really busy month for me. I was working a lot, schooling a lot, and doing a lot of thinking about my future. On top of that, I started hitting some pretty serious mileage PRs as part of marathon training. This photo was taken at the end of what, at the time, was my highest-mileage week ever. It was a perfect run on a perfect day to end a perfect week. I was also thrilled to run on pavement again after four or five months of snow running.

April: that time I randomly got sent to Norway for work.




I still have no idea how this happened. I had been at my job for all of a month when my boss asked me to go to Alta, Norway for him. I kid you not. I wasn't remotely qualified and was shaking in my boots the entire time, but nonetheless got a lot out of the experience. I was also able to hang out in Oslo for a couple of days. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and Oslo now ranks second on my "Jeano-approved European cities" list (Edinburgh's first. Paris is on my "worst" list. All the others fall somewhere in between).

May: when marathon training got intense




I honestly don't remember a lot about May other than that I spent much of it running. I don't remember this specific run either but chose this photo because I love the Sleeping Lady. Do you see her? The Sleeping Lady can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Anchorage and I have spent hours and hours looking at her. She's one of my favorites.

June: camping in Homer.




The week after my race, I took advantage of my newfound freedom to have some fun. Homer is, hands down, my favorite place in Alaska. To be fair, I've seen pitifully little of my state despite having spent 20-ish years here, but it's a gem of a town. I'd kill to own property nearby.

July: a hike up Wolverine with Bailey




I hardly wrote anything about this hike at the time, but it's stuck with me. I'm a pretty chill person, but that morning I was incredibly angry and needed to hate hike for a few hours to calm down. When I hit heavy fog only a few minutes in, I kind of felt like I was going to lose it. We pushed on, however, hoping against hope that it would clear up and we'd be able to see more than a couple of feet in front of us.

To my amazement, the fog cleared just long enough for us to summit, and we were gifted with an unbelievable view of the city below. There was something strangely therapeutic about the idea that I must have been one of only a handful of people on the other side of that fog.

August: a random lake in Canada on the way to Eugene.



The drive down from Alaska is beautiful. Take the Cassiar Highway if you've got some extra time. I can't remember which highway this was on, but I do remember screaming at my dad to stop just as we were about to pass it. I had to get a picture! I love the red hue of the mountains, which unfortunately doesn't really come through in this shot.

September: beach near Florence, Oregon




I've mentioned that during the month of September, my classmates and I did something called "math camp" that left us with a lot of downtime. One Friday, we decided to head to the coast despite the heavy rain forecasted for that afternoon. It was sunny in Eugene so it would obviously be sunny there, right?

Wrong. The first few hours were miserable. I wore a trash bag over my evidently fake rain jacket and was soaked to the bone in minutes. We made the best of it, however, and a few hours later managed to get a fire going just as the rain stopped. Major fun ensued.

October: weekend trip near Coos Bay, Oregon



Oregon driving is really beautiful but unfortunately doesn't translate well in pictures. This drive, towards the coast, is one I could do again and again. Oregon bridges all look like that and I love them.

November: a Thanksgiving trip to Mt. Diablo




Thanksgiving was a bust, but after spending weeks pent up in a dreary office I was ready to be active again. The drive from Oregon to California did not disappoint, and neither did the hiking.

December: back where we started




You just saw this picture the other day, but it gives me so much joy. Oregon has surpassed my unreasonably high expectations, but Alaska will always be my first love. I can think of few things better than this. It feels good to be home.

[I highly recommend Jill's post and blog in general. My favorite month is July - Switzerland!]

(My) 2013 In Pictures

As part of my life update chunking I had planned to tell you guys about school, but then I realized that school's boring. Or, I saw Jill Outside's 2013 in Pictures and immediately became obsessed with her idea. What you see here is a much less thoughtful version, though; I basically chose what I judge to be the "prettiest" shot from each month of the past year.

Jill's totally got me beat (at photography, athleticism, and life, if we're being honest), but here are my own picks for 2013:

[I decided to be radical and present these in their non-Instagrammed form. I've done a bit of photo soul-searching recently and think I'm experiencing Instagram burn-out. That said, iPhone cameras make everything look more drab than it actually is]

January: View from a run on the Coastal Trail


For those not in the know, Anchorage's Coastal Trail starts at Kincaid Park and finishes downtown about eight miles later. The trail runs along the water and is a scenic, flat place to run.

During the summer people flock to this section of the trail, but last winter I often had it to myself. When it's cold out, the ocean freezes, which is what's going on here.

February: a winter trip up Flattop




Flattop gets kind of a bad rap because its accessibility makes it the most-hiked peak in the area by far. For much of the year, summiting via the regular route is sort of like climbing Chilkoot Pass during the Gold Rush. Last February, however, my friend and I went up after a heavy snowfall. The going was incredibly slow and we often found ourselves breaking trail through waist-deep snow, but the prize was totally worth the effort. It was a beautiful, sunny day and since marathon training had just started, was my last hike until July. When done right, Flattop's actually a great hike.

March: a run on the road past Point Woronzof, right next to the Anchorage airport.




March was a really busy month for me. I was working a lot, schooling a lot, and doing a lot of thinking about my future. On top of that, I started hitting some pretty serious mileage PRs as part of marathon training. This photo was taken at the end of what, at the time, was my highest-mileage week ever. It was a perfect run on a perfect day to end a perfect week. I was also thrilled to run on pavement again after four or five months of snow running.

April: that time I randomly got sent to Norway for work.




I still have no idea how this happened. I had been at my job for all of a month when my boss asked me to go to Alta, Norway for him. I kid you not. I wasn't remotely qualified and was shaking in my boots the entire time, but nonetheless got a lot out of the experience. I was also able to hang out in Oslo for a couple of days. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and Oslo now ranks second on my "Jeano-approved European cities" list (Edinburgh's first. Paris is on my "worst" list. All the others fall somewhere in between).

May: when marathon training got intense




I honestly don't remember a lot about May other than that I spent much of it running. I don't remember this specific run either but chose this photo because I love the Sleeping Lady. Do you see her? The Sleeping Lady can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Anchorage and I have spent hours and hours looking at her. She's one of my favorites.

June: camping in Homer.




The week after my race, I took advantage of my newfound freedom to have some fun. Homer is, hands down, my favorite place in Alaska. To be fair, I've seen pitifully little of my state despite having spent 20-ish years here, but it's a gem of a town. I'd kill to own property nearby.

July: a hike up Wolverine with Bailey




I hardly wrote anything about this hike at the time, but it's stuck with me. I'm a pretty chill person, but that morning I was incredibly angry and needed to hate hike for a few hours to calm down. When I hit heavy fog only a few minutes in, I kind of felt like I was going to lose it. We pushed on, however, hoping against hope that it would clear up and we'd be able to see more than a couple of feet in front of us.

To my amazement, the fog cleared just long enough for us to summit, and we were gifted with an unbelievable view of the city below. There was something strangely therapeutic about the idea that I must have been one of only a handful of people on the other side of that fog.

August: a random lake in Canada on the way to Eugene.



The drive down from Alaska is beautiful. Take the Cassiar Highway if you've got some extra time. I can't remember which highway this was on, but I do remember screaming at my dad to stop just as we were about to pass it. I had to get a picture! I love the red hue of the mountains, which unfortunately doesn't really come through in this shot.

September: beach near Florence, Oregon




I've mentioned that during the month of September, my classmates and I did something called "math camp" that left us with a lot of downtime. One Friday, we decided to head to the coast despite the heavy rain forecasted for that afternoon. It was sunny in Eugene so it would obviously be sunny there, right?

Wrong. The first few hours were miserable. I wore a trash bag over my evidently fake rain jacket and was soaked to the bone in minutes. We made the best of it, however, and a few hours later managed to get a fire going just as the rain stopped. Major fun ensued.

October: weekend trip near Coos Bay, Oregon



Oregon driving is really beautiful but unfortunately doesn't translate well in pictures. This drive, towards the coast, is one I could do again and again. Oregon bridges all look like that and I love them.

November: a Thanksgiving trip to Mt. Diablo




Thanksgiving was a bust, but after spending weeks pent up in a dreary office I was ready to be active again. The drive from Oregon to California did not disappoint, and neither did the hiking.

December: back where we started




You just saw this picture the other day, but it gives me so much joy. Oregon has surpassed my unreasonably high expectations, but Alaska will always be my first love. I can think of few things better than this. It feels good to be home.

[I highly recommend Jill's post and blog in general. My favorite month is July - Switzerland!]

Friday, December 20, 2013

When I first moved to Oregon, I had an entire month to "math camp" and generally take it easy. During that time, I made an effort to keep my activity level up, exploring new running paths and hiking trails. "Oh, the places I'll go!" I exclaimed. With all my spare time, I was fairly confident I was destined to be the next Kilian Jornet... or, perhaps more realistically, Emily Dirr.

Well, that was naive. Once real school started, I quickly realized that I would, in fact, have to spend more than three hours a day being an adult. Remember that brilliant 9:00 - 5:00 schedule I was bragging about, a schedule that was sure to be the key to my success? Yeah, that lasted about a week.

At first, I tried to run regularly. I followed the first five weeks of the Hanson Method to a T, and I felt great. Just as the plan jumped from five to six days of running per week, however, I realized that kind of schedule was more than I could handle at that moment. I decided to try a different strategy, condensing the same number of miles into fewer runs. For a few weeks, I ran 6 - 8 miles three or four times per week. My body wasn't responding well to that kind of schedule, though, and then, just as I began to reevaluate...

... midterms happened.

Midterms, to put it lightly, were a bitch. All of us econ kids were at our desks every waking moment and I just couldn't bring myself to leave, even for a couple of hours. I assume this isn't unique to my program, but there's a lot of pressure to work when everyone else is. If other people are at school until midnight, I feel like I'm slacking if I'm not. To be clear, I rarely feel like I'm competing against anyone, one of the many great things about my program. When I stay late, I'm not thinking, "If I don't stay, I won't beat so-and-so." Rather, I'm thinking, "So-and-so thinks it's necessary, so I'll probably fail out of the program if I don't." It's an easy hole to fall into.

UO has a dumb quarter schedule so a mere three weeks after midterms (one of which was mostly useless because of Thanksgiving), it was time for finals, which were, unsurprisingly, more stressful than midterms. So, you know, it was more of the same.

Anyway, my current running regimen can be summed up as follows:

I'm so hot it hurts.

I've run three times this December, for a total of 11.5 miles. November was better, but not much.

And since I haven't been running, I feel like kind of a slob. It doesn't help that I'm rocking an extra pound or seven. I'm not a weight-conscious person at all, largely because I had hovered around the same weight for about seven years regardless of my activity level, but my parents' scale tells me I'm a good 5 pounds above the heavy end of that spectrum and I don't feel awesome about it.

My point is, I let my running go to shit and didn't really do anything about it. We're all busy. Being busy isn't an excuse, but I've let it be. I know that if I wanted it badly enough, I could get my runs done. But I haven't.

I hate posts that spew the "NEW YEAR, NEW ME!!!" message so I'm not going to do that. I just wanted to let you all know what's up with my running and lay it out for myself. Needless to say, I'm trying to turn things around and perhaps give myself a goal to work towards. You know, for accountability and all that.

Feel free to give me your honest opinion on the matter, but I'm definitely not looking for comments to the effect of, "Don't be so hard on yourself! You're busy! You're trying to figure things out!" I already know that, but I also know that finding time for running while in grad school is far from difficult. If I can make time for drinking and gallivanting, I can certainly find time to take care of myself.

----

Hey, let's end this on a happy note! Bailey and I went to Powerline yesterday.

That blob is Bailey. The poor dog gets ice balls on her feet when we're out for a while so has to stop to bite at them. She rips booties right off, though, so I guess that's her choice.

I love the trees when they look like this! Side note: if I read any more bitching about snow/cold, especially from people who live in temperate places (*cough* Oregon *cough*), I'm going to flip out. I get it: it was below freezing and snowed for like five days. Go drink a beer and get over it.

----

Do yourself a favor and listen to this if you're looking for a new power jam. I'm probably six years late to this song, but it's awesome. Very mall music-ish, which doesn't sound remotely appealing, but it's got a great beat. Try it.


Running, Lately

When I first moved to Oregon, I had an entire month to "math camp" and generally take it easy. During that time, I made an effort to keep my activity level up, exploring new running paths and hiking trails. "Oh, the places I'll go!" I exclaimed. With all my spare time, I was fairly confident I was destined to be the next Kilian Jornet... or, perhaps more realistically, Emily Dirr.

Well, that was naive. Once real school started, I quickly realized that I would, in fact, have to spend more than three hours a day being an adult. Remember that brilliant 9:00 - 5:00 schedule I was bragging about, a schedule that was sure to be the key to my success? Yeah, that lasted about a week.

At first, I tried to run regularly. I followed the first five weeks of the Hanson Method to a T, and I felt great. Just as the plan jumped from five to six days of running per week, however, I realized that kind of schedule was more than I could handle at that moment. I decided to try a different strategy, condensing the same number of miles into fewer runs. For a few weeks, I ran 6 - 8 miles three or four times per week. My body wasn't responding well to that kind of schedule, though, and then, just as I began to reevaluate...

... midterms happened.

Midterms, to put it lightly, were a bitch. All of us econ kids were at our desks every waking moment and I just couldn't bring myself to leave, even for a couple of hours. I assume this isn't unique to my program, but there's a lot of pressure to work when everyone else is. If other people are at school until midnight, I feel like I'm slacking if I'm not. To be clear, I rarely feel like I'm competing against anyone, one of the many great things about my program. When I stay late, I'm not thinking, "If I don't stay, I won't beat so-and-so." Rather, I'm thinking, "So-and-so thinks it's necessary, so I'll probably fail out of the program if I don't." It's an easy hole to fall into.

UO has a dumb quarter schedule so a mere three weeks after midterms (one of which was mostly useless because of Thanksgiving), it was time for finals, which were, unsurprisingly, more stressful than midterms. So, you know, it was more of the same.

Anyway, my current running regimen can be summed up as follows:

I'm so hot it hurts.

I've run three times this December, for a total of 11.5 miles. November was better, but not much.

And since I haven't been running, I feel like kind of a slob. It doesn't help that I'm rocking an extra pound or seven. I'm not a weight-conscious person at all, largely because I had hovered around the same weight for about seven years regardless of my activity level, but my parents' scale tells me I'm a good 5 pounds above the heavy end of that spectrum and I don't feel awesome about it.

My point is, I let my running go to shit and didn't really do anything about it. We're all busy. Being busy isn't an excuse, but I've let it be. I know that if I wanted it badly enough, I could get my runs done. But I haven't.

I hate posts that spew the "NEW YEAR, NEW ME!!!" message so I'm not going to do that. I just wanted to let you all know what's up with my running and lay it out for myself. Needless to say, I'm trying to turn things around and perhaps give myself a goal to work towards. You know, for accountability and all that.

Feel free to give me your honest opinion on the matter, but I'm definitely not looking for comments to the effect of, "Don't be so hard on yourself! You're busy! You're trying to figure things out!" I already know that, but I also know that finding time for running while in grad school is far from difficult. If I can make time for drinking and gallivanting, I can certainly find time to take care of myself.

----

Hey, let's end this on a happy note! Bailey and I went to Powerline yesterday.

That blob is Bailey. The poor dog gets ice balls on her feet when we're out for a while so has to stop to bite at them. She rips booties right off, though, so I guess that's her choice.

I love the trees when they look like this! Side note: if I read any more bitching about snow/cold, especially from people who live in temperate places (*cough* Oregon *cough*), I'm going to flip out. I get it: it was below freezing and snowed for like five days. Go drink a beer and get over it.

----

Do yourself a favor and listen to this if you're looking for a new power jam. I'm probably six years late to this song, but it's awesome. Very mall music-ish, which doesn't sound remotely appealing, but it's got a great beat. Try it.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I woke up this morning after a glorious ten hours of sleep and did one of my favorite things: loaded up on coffee and took Bailey for a walk around my snowy neighborhood.




Snow's crazy


Wait, whaaaaaaat? That doesn't look like Eugene!! Did I fail out of grad school?!?!

But what does it all mean?! Okay, this mostly just means covariance. Incorrectly calculated, I might add.

Sorry, that was dumb. School's awesome. I'm obviously just home for the holidays. And a long holiday it is: 3 weeks in total! I think my body was about to kick the bucket if it didn't get some serious R&R/detox/real food STAT so I'm really looking forward to the time off.

The idea of updating you on #every #detail #of #my #life in one fell swoop makes me nauseous so we're going to use one of Holly's favorite tricks and chunk it. Today's update is easy: Bailey!


Remember Bailey? Bailey's the best. Bailey lives with my parents again. She also apparently struggles with looking happy in pictures.

The vet evidently told my parents that Bailey needs to lose ten pounds, so I expected to be greeted by an enormous dog. Fortunately, she looks roughly the same as I left her. I mean, no, you can't feel her ribs, but she's not wheelchair-bound. Good thing, since we went hiking at a very chilly Flattop this afternoon.

It was very windy

What else is there to say about a dog's life? Bailey went apeshit when I got back a couple of nights ago, which felt awesome. I was worried her adorably-demented brain wouldn't remember me, but that was not the case. In fact, she refused to move from my bedroom door until I woke up the following day at noon. She wouldn't even eat or go outside. I'm pretty sure she was afraid I'd leave her again if she wasn't there to stop it. I'm already anxious about going back to Eugene.

So there you have it: Bailey!

Next up, what you really want to hear about: running! Oh dear.

My Favorite Morning

I woke up this morning after a glorious ten hours of sleep and did one of my favorite things: loaded up on coffee and took Bailey for a walk around my snowy neighborhood.




Snow's crazy


Wait, whaaaaaaat? That doesn't look like Eugene!! Did I fail out of grad school?!?!

But what does it all mean?! Okay, this mostly just means covariance. Incorrectly calculated, I might add.

Sorry, that was dumb. School's awesome. I'm obviously just home for the holidays. And a long holiday it is: 3 weeks in total! I think my body was about to kick the bucket if it didn't get some serious R&R/detox/real food STAT so I'm really looking forward to the time off.

The idea of updating you on #every #detail #of #my #life in one fell swoop makes me nauseous so we're going to use one of Holly's favorite tricks and chunk it. Today's update is easy: Bailey!


Remember Bailey? Bailey's the best. Bailey lives with my parents again. She also apparently struggles with looking happy in pictures.

The vet evidently told my parents that Bailey needs to lose ten pounds, so I expected to be greeted by an enormous dog. Fortunately, she looks roughly the same as I left her. I mean, no, you can't feel her ribs, but she's not wheelchair-bound. Good thing, since we went hiking at a very chilly Flattop this afternoon.

It was very windy

What else is there to say about a dog's life? Bailey went apeshit when I got back a couple of nights ago, which felt awesome. I was worried her adorably-demented brain wouldn't remember me, but that was not the case. In fact, she refused to move from my bedroom door until I woke up the following day at noon. She wouldn't even eat or go outside. I'm pretty sure she was afraid I'd leave her again if she wasn't there to stop it. I'm already anxious about going back to Eugene.

So there you have it: Bailey!

Next up, what you really want to hear about: running! Oh dear.