Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 Goals

Ah yes, the goals post. I’ve been giving this one a lot of thought and it’s about time to commit it to paper, as it were.

I made some 2011 running goals, before I knew what I was really talking about. I don’t really have the energy to go digging that post up, but I will consider this year a success. Over 700 miles run, 2 half marathons, 3 10k PRs. not too shabby.

I had one “resolution” in 2011 and it was not running related: to not date for the entire year. I have 6 days left, technically, but I’m willing to call this a raging success. It was a necessary “reset” of sorts, and I don’t regret it one bit.

Now for 2012:

1. Run Four Half Marathons. Perhaps a tall order, doubling my number of halfs from this year. But I think I’ve got a good plan worked out. I’ve only registered for one thus far – Lake Placid – but I’ve got them picked out, roped Natalie into it, and off we go!
Oleksak Half Marathon – April 1, 2012
Lake Placid Half Marathon – June 10, 2012
Rock N’ Roll Providence – August 19, 2012
Hudson Mohawk Half Marathon – October 7, 2012
2. That helps for goal number 2: add 2 states to my half marathon races. I’ll get Massachusetts and Rhode Island out of this. And I’ve never been to Rhode Island, so this should be fun!

3. Join a run club. I think I'm going to joing the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners. That way, I’ll get a discount on that last half marathon (the one I’m really looking for a huge PR in). And, they offer 2 races per month, several of which are free to members. Sounds like a win win!

4. Run 1000 miles. If I could run 700+ this year while only training for 2 half marathons, I think I can squeeze in another 300! Plus, last January was a really low mileage month, as I was just getting in to running.

5. Break 100 miles in at LEAST one month. I kind of made this an informal goal this year, and got so close! (91 was my closest).

6. Plank for two and a half minutes. I’m already at 1:15, due to #plankaday. So I really think this is feasible.

7. Be able to do 50 pushups. I’m ordering an iphone this week so the 100pushups app will probably be the first thing I buy. I can’t even do one full pushup right now (I know, I'm ashamed), so 50 seems reasonable for a year-long goal.

8. 4 hours of yoga a month. I always say I’m going to start going to yoga more, and never do. When I go, I love it. This is a reasonable goal of one yoga class a week. Since they offer yoga at my gym at least 6 days a week this really shouldn’t be an issue.

9. Try one new, healthy recipe a week. I have been tossing around some way to make “healthier eating” or “stop eating shit” or “eat clean” an actionable goal, and this is what I came up with. Not perfect, in terms of the rules of writing achievable goals, but it’ll have to do.

10. This goal is “new years” – ish, I plan to have this done by the end of January. Create an inspiration board/scrapbook. Originally this was just an inspiration board, but I got a whole bunch of running scrapbook stuff and pictures from my parents, so I have that to work on too!

I’m planning on have a year of high-milage, PR, smart recover, and lots of learning. I’m really looking forward to reading everyone else’s goal posts! Let’s make 2012 run-tacular!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Christmas and Atheism

Once again, I know this is a running blog, but every once in a while there is something else that I find the need to write about, and this is still my only outlet.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on here, but I’m a non-believer. An atheist, if you will. I used to be really stern about it. It’s not that my feelings about a god, or organized religion have changed; they are still quite solid. However, the way that I fit that rationale into a larger context of life as an American has changed.

I do not now, nor will I ever believe in “god.” I think organized religion is misguided and down-right creepy. I will be the first in line to tell you to get your nativity off that public highway. But, what I won’t do is try to convince you that I’m right and you’re (you, being a believer) wrong. It’s a futile argument only had by people that are super extreme/confrontational on either side. All that I’m asking in return is that you do the same. Don’t worry about my soul or whatever, because depending on your specific line of belief, a myriad of things could happen when I die, or I could just die.

I found atheism by a personal search, fueled not by a super religious upbringing and then rebellion (as it is found on many occasion), but by the fact that my parents just never really brought religion into the equation. We never went to church or were baptized or any of that. I got, perhaps, a bit more religion than my siblings, being the oldest. I went to some church thing (during school hours – the horror) when I was young, and some summer church camp thingy. When I was about 8 I would pray for my family every night, out of fear, that god might smite us if I didn’t. And that’s about it. That’s my experience with religion.

As I got older, and really thought about it, I just think the whole thing is odd and irrational. I’m often caught off guard when a close friend mentions going to church, willingly, as an adult. It’s as if I forget it’s part of people’s lives sometimes. But it is, and I respect your right to believe as long as you respect my right not to.


I. Freaking. Love. Christmas.

It’s not about the birth of Christ, or immaculate conception or whatever. To me, it’s about family. Spending time together, eating delicious food, gift giving, decorations, fun movies, Santa Clause etc. Every year people get all pissed about how Christmas has become commercialized and blah blah. We’ve lost the point of it and what have you. Spend a few days with your family and friends, enjoy them, be kind, buy them stuff. Why is that so horrible?

Plus, in a favorite atheist strain, Christ wasn’t even born in December. Early Christian leaders moved the celebration of his birth to coincide with the pagan solstice celebration to aid in conversion. (Much in the same way that FDR made Thanksgiving the 3rd Thursday in November in the hope that people would take off Friday and go shopping – to boost the economy.Imagine that). Since winter happens to be one of my favorite seasons, I just consider my celebrating christmas bringing the whole thing full circle.

So, to all -  Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever. 

Being an atheist doesn’t mean you have to give up family celebrations, or days of recklessly eating cookies, or cheesy movies about family, love and hope. Take the Christ out of Christmas if you must, or the stick out of your ass, and just let me have my celebration.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Binge and Goals

Not an eating related binge. no no, almost worse. I went on weight lifting binge.

I took friday off of work, just cus, and did a serious leg workout at the gym. I have not done legs in about three weeks. Also, I haven’t used the Smith Machine for squats and lunges since, uh, July. So, instead of being a normal person and take it easy – a little weight at a time. I aimed for about 10-15 lbs under my previous max.

My quads still kill.

However, part of that is likely not just from weightlifting. On Sunday, I opted to go to the gym and run, to get the blood flowing to my muscles. Lo and behold, I finally broke 30 minutes on my 3 mile run!! yes! 29:51! I was so stoked. I really didn’t think it would happen on sunday due to how sore I was, but I was in the ZONE!

Then this morning I went back to the gym, again the zone, and banged out a quick 4.5 miles at a 10:02 pace. Still much faster than I’ve run this whole year. I’ve been consistently keeping my treadmill runs at 10:20 pace or below. Which I think is awesome!

I haven’t run outside in a while. All my running gear is black, well almost all. And I don’t have a hat, or anything reflective. I’m planning to change all of that (well probably except the black clothes thing) after christmas. Then I’ll be back out for some outdoor runs to really test my pace!


I think my first major race of next year is going to be on April 1. So formal training is starting up against soon, and I am pumped!

Upcoming post on 2012 goals! here’s to a great holiday and a positive start to the new year!!!


Friday, December 16, 2011

I took today off…


of work…

to work out.


I’ve been hoarding vacation days for months in an effort to give myself a cushion in the event that I got laid off. (we get paid out for a a rather large amount of vacation days if you leave/get laid off.)

I’d nearly reached the max payout amount. But, I’m not getting laid off. So, I randomly took a vacation day today and made no plans other than going to the gym. So of course, I fell asleep, hard, before 10pm last night, and of course, woke up at 630am with no alarm.

So, I headed to the gym, I took my time and didn’t rush myself through a serious killer leg work out. Heavy was the name of the game – PRing my hamstring curls and calf extensions, while also doing some serious work on lunges and squats on the smith machine (which I haven’t done in much longer than I’m willing to admit), among other things.

Then I ran two miles. It was hard. I kind of thought I was going to fall over for the first half mile, but I didn’t. phew.

I’ve also jumped on the #plankaday bandwagon. who knew I could do a 1 minute+ plank? Not I, but apparently I can.

I was home by 930, so next time I want to take a day off to not rush through a work out, maybe I’ll just take a half day? But, then again, maybe not. I’m currently relaxing on the couch watching the Jim Carey version of the Grinch. I’m not sure it gets much better.


Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Will this be the week?

For a bit now, I’ve been trying to break :30 for a three mile time. I’ve almost gotten there. I’ve had two 3-mile runs lately at a 10:03 pace.

My last two runs were real confidence boosters. Faster paces for longer distances. win/win.

After monday’s run I decided this would probably be the week I’d break that 30 minute mark. I just have a feeling – which is good, since I really think this breaking the 30 minute mark issue is mostly mental. Even these close call runs I’m not finishing with my last ounce of strength – I’ve still got some juice left. So I really don’t see the reason not to hit my goal.

I plan to have a leg day tomorrow, so my goal run may have to wait till friday. But, I’ve promised myself that if I wake up with the real burn to hit that sub 30 mark, I’ll go for it. however, I’ve really been wanting a solid leg workout too.

Do you do your workouts by “feel” during the off season? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I find I often have a better workout if I get up knowing what the plan is. I like having a route planned.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Baking Marathon

Generally, I’m not much into holiday baking. Not to say I don’t like holiday baked goods, I do. I’m just not usually the one baking. This year I decided to give it a whirl and I just spent my ENTIRE weekend baking scads of cookies.

My intent was to make an array of cookies and give them to co-workers for the holidays. I have 7 coworkers. I have 400 cookies. I hope they’re hungry.

I made 5 different kinds: Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Chocolate Crinkles (you can find all the recipes at

Literally, this took me all weekend. There was likely more flour on the counter and floor and my shirts than the bowls. I used EVERY SINGLE hand towel we own (we have an awful lot of hand towels, btw). I smashed up macadamia nuts with an empty wine bottle. I found dough in my hair on more than one occasion. My neck was apparently attacked by a chocolate vampire at one point in time. And, to top it off, I managed to stab myself in the upper leg/vagina area with a knife while trying to chop white chocolate – no blood thanks to my chain-mail-esque jeans.

So, I’m not betty crocker. I only burned one batch! AND, AND… the kitchen is clean!

I did some running, and I did a shit load of baking.

That’s my weekend. I’m going to throw all those towels in the wash, and go the heck to sleep.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Shift


So here I am again, after not having posted in like 2 weeks. Oh I’m back! yes, you’ve all heard that before. But please, let me explain.

The last few weeks – well months, 8 months to be exact – have been increasingly rough over here. Stress was mounting, and after my last race everything really went to hell. Here’s the deal. In April I got laid off, then just before my official last day, I was offered my job back. Then every few months there was some sort of event that could possibly lead to me being laid off again. The last of which was a 12/31 deadline, end of the program contract. While it was never much of a concern if we would get a new contract, there was a concern as to whether or not it would include the budget lines for my coworker’s and my jobs. It is possible that much of the stress and worry was manufactured internally (by both her and I), but we’d been burned before – when we were all least expecting it.

Yesterday afternoon we got news that everything’s going to be fine. Program’s a go, at current spending levels. boom. I cannot even begin to describe the weight that’s been lifted. Even so much so that I didn’t terribly mind having to stay an hour and a half late, on a Friday, and getting locked in the stairwell (apparently they lock the doors at 530.)

So, back to the past few weeks. Things got really bad for me. There was little to no working out, a ton of eating shit, and nearly 0 sleeping. Recipe for disaster. I knew it was happening, but I was literally paralyzed by fear and worry. Sometimes despite all our best efforts, we can get swallowed up by negativity. Every time I got enough motivation and stamina to workout, I felt better, but replicating that on a regular basis just felt impossible.

After getting the work news yesterday afternoon, I called my dad to discuss christmas ideas for my mom. My dad’s an endorphin junkie, so I knew explaining to him how much I was looking forward to a carefree run today was going to be completely understood. I just wanted to run, and smile, and not worry about anything except the sweat dripping in my eyes.

I passed out by about 930 last night and slept like a baby for the first time in at least 3 weeks. I woke up at 530, without an alarm, ready to go. Due to the fact that I have approx 0 running gear for running in the dark (it’s on my christmas list), rather than wait till it was light out, I hopped in the car and opted for a treadmill run. One of the work outs I’ve been doing lately to kill TM monotony, is to cover the display with my sweatshirt and then bump up the pace every 2-4 songs. Today I pounded out an awesome, smiley, sweaty 5.5 miles with an average pace about 20 seconds/mile faster than my 10k PR in September. Granted, today I was on a TM with a 1% incline, and that 10k PR was on a seriously, seriously hilly course. But holy pace, batman. I felt freaking awesome. People were probably seriously weirded out by my redonk smile plastered on my face the whole time. But who cares? I got my mojo back, baby!

The other awesome part of my job situation being resolved is that I can finally start to put into action my 2012 race goals! That’s another post – one that won’t take me 2 weeks to write, I promise.

I’m off to bake a serious amount of cookies – to SHARE, don’t worry.


Happy running, folks!