on this summer

Happy Sunday from my porch! Patrick is off on a long bike ride and my legs are in desperate need of a break. I had a heavy squat block on Thursday that has left me sore for days and, while running did seem to shake some of the soreness, I think it’s best for me to kick up my legs and relax.

I am also thrilled because the weather is not quite as hot and we bought a pumpkin candle today! It smells divine and brings back serious memories from my freshman year of college. I think I must’ve had a similarly scented candle in my room on Elmont Drive.

This is the first time in years that fall is about to start and I don’t have to worry about school. At all! If I wasn’t in school myself, I was working in one. Eventually I started grad school and was enrolled in classes year-round. As of a few weeks ago I am officially done with grad school and never have to look at Blackboard again. I’ve enjoyed reading for fun and picking any topic I want to learn about. I am also relieved. After this summer it felt like I was finishing a chapter in my life and moving forward.

This summer was an absolute whirlwind. It was fun and frustrating and exhausting and exhilarating all at once. I was full of energy and ambition in May, but felt like I was barely holding on in August. So much happened – in the world, at work, in my life – over the summer and I could barely take it all in, let alone process it. The news was heavy, my training was excessive, and I was finishing grad school with my hardest course yet (it as an independent study, so my fault but I didn’t realize how much work my idea would be)!

On our way to Warren, PA

Any free time I had was spent riding my bike, doing schoolwork, or generally not trying to fall into a pit of despair (see: current events). Not to mention the weather made me feel tired and sluggish. Fortunately, the slog came to an end in mid August. All summer I trained for a big gravel ride in Pennsylvania, where I had intended to do the 80 mile route. Days before we headed up to Warren, PA, I turned in the final assignment for school and was officially down with my Master’s degree. Check that off the list!

When race day rolled around, Patrick and I realized that our bikes might not have been the right kind for the course, but went for it anyway. The climbing was intense, but the gravel roads were beautiful. After the first aid station the route became a little too technical for our bikes, so we had a decision to make: Attempt continuing on and hope the gravel roads came back or turn around. After much deliberation, we decided having fun was more important than riding an arbitrary distance, so we dropped down to the short course (38ish miles). I know myself well enough to be able to anticipate how grouchy I would’ve gotten if we had forged ahead. We made the right choice!

In many ways, our decision on that ride was great practice for me. I struggle with quitting or changing course at times in life. Generally, if I have decided to attempt something or commit to accomplishing a goal, I want to do it no matter what. This applies to books I begin reading, runs I plan for the week, projects at work, and so on. Sometimes, though, trudging forward is exactly that: a trudge. It’s what I did all summer. Sure, there was so much fun at times and plenty of joy to be felt! But I also felt really low at times. I felt like I was forcing myself to do things that I would normally jump at the opportunity to do. I was so tired, yet I felt compelled to keep pushing forward and making progress on my plans.

I am both happy and sad that I did that. Sometimes there really is no other way than through and building mental fortitude is no small feat – for running or for life. On the other hand, I struggle with allowing myself rest and ease. I wish I was better at kicking up my feet and doing nothing. Or just simply being! It’s an exceptionally difficult balance for me to strike. I feel like a well-oiled machine and enjoy that until suddenly it’s overheated and breaking down. Truthfully, the positive revelation I had after doing significantly less riding than planned was awesome – but I still worried about becoming a person who just quits all the time. I’ve still not worked it all out in my brain.

All this to say, after the ride and this summer as a whole, I’ve been trying to find more ease and balance ambition. Right now that looks like: movement I truly enjoy, more social outings, sleeping in, choosing what I learn about, more time on the couch, trying new drinks and foods, and attempting to regain boundaries with work.

I find that I’ve begun craving conversation and time with people again and have the mental and emotional capacity to deeply engage with others once more. It’s nice.

This fall I want to feel rested and strong. Cozy and adventurous. Independent and welcoming. I want to sit in the discomfort I feel when I make the decision not to pursue something. I want to overcome obstacles when I decide it is appropriate to accomplish something. I want to keep thinking about what it’s like to make these decisions, how they make me feel, and when it’s time to cutback or press forward.

Let’s see how it goes!

-Juliana

bull market mood

Well well well, it has been a minute. I think that’s how I start 99% of my blog posts these days. I can’t help it! I sit down to write something and then get frustrated that my thoughts don’t make as much sense as I want them to or I just get distracted by something else. That being said, I do enjoy writing here when I get around to it. The past few months have been a pretty good time. Since I last posted we held a big event for work that I spent half a year planning and I ran 45 miles in the Shenandoah backcountry.

We travelled, we had folks come to visit, and Patrick and I have been up to general shenanigans! After I did my long run in Shenandoah, I took a few weeks off to recover and plan out our summer. Patrick and I printed out April-August calendars and started writing out plans we already had and filled in some weekends with new activities. A few weeks ago we officially kicked off hot girl summer or, alternatively, bull market season. I made an Instagram post about this recently, so I’ll just steal the caption:

“Despite the fact it was 50 degrees yesterday and our heater is literally on right now, it’s hot girl summer! Alternatively: it’s a bull market, baby. We’re on the up and up and our self-worth is through the roof. Patrick & I are aggressively pursuing the raddest summer we can this year and I am thrilled. What does a hot girl summer/bull market look like for us, you ask?

Training for the Allegheny Forest Gravel Grinder, camping trips, getting involved in the community, weight lifting, tailgate picnics, concerts, Texas visitors, overthrowing the patriarchy, kayaking, waking up early, trail running and hiking, taking trips, big endurance events, fighting for a promotion, wearing clothes that make me feel powerful, reading books that educate and entertain, eating fresh foods, and so much more!”

I am pretty pumped, if you couldn’t tell. There was a lot that I put off while I was training for my ultra because I felt like I didn’t have the time or extra energy for it. Not anymore! This summer is dedicated to pursuing anything and everything that will bring me joy.

Before I ran my ultra, Patrick and I brainstormed what we wanted to do with our lives afterwards and what our summer might look like. I thought a lot about what summer meant and felt like as a kid and wanted to channel as much excitement as possible. The feeling of getting out of school for the summer was magnificent and having vacations or plans to look forward to in the dog days of summer was even better. I absolutely wish I could simply not work at all for a few months and beep bop around doing whatever I wanted. Would I get bored? Yes, probably – but it would be fun for a while!

I just don’t want time to fly by over these next few months and come into the fall feeling like I didn’t get around to doing anything. I want to look back on this summer fondly and proud of the shenanigans I got into. I also want to take good care of myself and to continue becoming more and more of the version of myself I know I can be. Make sense?

I want to unapologetically pursue this life all gas, no brakes and have a great time doing it. So that’s what I’ll be up to this summer! And then who knows what will come in the fall. I’m trying not to jump too far forward yet.

I hope you join me in this season. Run in the sunshine and read something new. Find music you enjoy and makes you dance. See ya later!

January, so far

We are already halfway through January! I am genuinely shocked. I know I am not alone when I say that January normally feels at least 70 days long. Nonetheless, this month has felt pretty good… so far. I absolutely feel like I am going to jinx myself, but oh well.

Work has been busy, I’ve been doing plenty of running (ice cold, below freezing temps running), and school starts back up on Tuesday. Patrick’s making more and more progress in physical therapy and has taken to walking around the house with a hiking pole, which cracks me up.

Mid long run from last week. The second half of this run was in freezing rain.

In other news I set out to accomplish three aspirations for the month from my long 2022 list and I’ve already done all three!

I wanted to read a book from start to finish, do a coffee outside, and make one dinner extra special.

I started and finished Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea this month and it was excellent. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a Spanish Civil War before World War 2. And Chile’s history? So much to learn! A Long Petal of the Sea is a historical fiction that follows the entire life span of two people affected/involved in the Spanish Civil War. It is tragic, but not in the way you’d outright expect. There’s also something about a book that spans an entire life that feels extra heartbreaking to me. I can’t explain it! If you’re curious, now I am ready What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I want to read another fiction when I’m done with Murakami’s book, so if you have any recommendations then let me know!

On Friday morning at around 6 am, I woke Patrick up and asked him if he had slept okay that night. We’d been talking about doing a coffee outside and Friday seemed perfect, but I didn’t want to force him up. I sleep like a rock, but Patrick sometimes wakes up sporadically. I had already packed up the coffee supplies and had picked a place, so when Patrick got up we just needed to bundle up for the cold. And it was… quite cold. I think this will be a little more fun when it’s warmish out and the sun rises earlier, but oh well. Patrick swapped the Aeropress for the Clever and I grabbed two muffins in case we got hungry.

We drove out to a scenic overlook on Washington Parkway, realized immediately that we should’ve brought headlamps, and got to boiling the water.

We’re going to go somewhere different next time (lol). The view of the Potomac is nice, but the sounds of rushing cars on the parkway just doesn’t do it for me.

Finally, two weeks ago Patrick really wanted to make homemade Indian food. I am always a little skeptical since we have very mixed results when we attempt it. He found a recipe for butter chicken and homemade naan, so we went for it. Truthfully Patrick made most of it, but I helped cook the naan! This is not a meal that we could casually make for people, at least not without a lot of practice. And we learned a lot about what we would do differently next time, but my god it was delicious. Like I was genuinely shocked by how good it was.

We normally avoid having both of us cooking in the kitchen at the same time since it’s so small, but we were both required for this meal. It ended up being pretty fun, despite the smoke alarms nearly going off since we used butter and not ghee. We ate at the dining table and I feel like we spent most of the time marveling at how good it was.

Now I am trying to decide if I want to find another aspiration on my list to focus on. I wasn’t trying to rush through them at all, I just happened to accomplish them pretty quickly!

I hope that January is treating you well so far. Stay safe out there!

Love,

Juliana

Parting words.

2022 Aspirations

Happy (almost) New Year! I love this time of year. I didn’t feel much into the holiday spirit this year, probably because the pandemic is still raging and some other stressful factors going on in life. Nonetheless, I love the energy the new year brings and I love how excited everyone gets to bring about change in their lives. Sure, we know New Year’s resolutions are not often fruitful, but I love the effort!

I am also not much of a spring cleaning person (why would you spend that time inside cleaning when it’s finally getting a nice out?!). But I am definitely a post-Christmas cleaning person. Patrick and I cleaned and organized our bathroom the other day, plus it’s so satisfying to tidy up when the Christmas decorations come down.

Anyway, I love setting goals each year (or anytime really). In lieu of setting year long goals for 2022, I decided to write a list of things I’d like to do more of and I plan to let that guide me throughout the year. Maybe each month I’ll pick one or two to focus on or maybe I’ll just look at it if I feel like I’m in a rut or simply uninspired. I’m going very low stakes this year.

2022 should be an interesting one! Hopefully a huge work event will go off without a hitch, I’ll run my second 50 miler with Erica, graduate from grad school, and who knows what. Hopefully Patrick’s hip will heal up smoothly and we can spend plenty of time outside. Fingers crossed!

Before getting into my list of 2022 aspirations, let’s take a look back at goals from previous years since, you know, time doesn’t exist anymore and the years seem to blur together.

My 2020 goals:

  1. Max out my IRA contributions
  2. Visit somewhere new
  3. Read a book a month (at least)
  4. Pursue finance, professionally
  5. PR my half marathon

My 2021 goals (with some notes from today):

  1. PR my 10k (I didn’t intentionally attempt this, but I’m 95% sure I could do it)
  2. Do a pull up (Sort of fell of the bandwagon on this one, but did do a lot of strength training)
  3. Start volunteering regularly (Not even a little bit… oops)

Patrick and I had some shared 2021 goals too:

  1. Max out our IRAs (freaking crushed it)
  2. Eat meatless 3x a week (we didn’t do 3 specific meatless days a week but our meals definitely averaged out to be at least 9/21 vegetarian)
  3. Bikepack on C&O Canal (we got so close and then didn’t. I can’t remember why. Rain maybe?)

As you can see, there was some mixed success with the 2021 goals. Looking at them now I am confused why I chose them since they seem so random and not in line with what I was focused on. Listen, December 2020 was a weird time for me so who knows what I was thinking.

Now let’s look at 2022!

Juliana’s 2022 Aspirations (aka Do More Of List):

  1. Camp 3+ times
  2. Go bikecamping
  3. Put on a dress and go outdoors (farmer’s market, picnic, etc)
  4. Make some eco-friending swaps at home
  5. Buy a few pieces of clothing that I’ll love and wear for a long time
  6. Travel more
  7. Take a spontaneous sick day and go to the beach (for legal purposes this is a joke… (it’s not))
  8. Go to organized runs or track practices
  9. Go kayaking more
  10. Figure out a post-50 miler gym plan/routine
  11. Make one day a week extra special
  12. Read more books
  13. Go on more day hikes
  14. Volunteer at one (or more) running race
  15. Figure out finances
  16. Plan more run projects
  17. Ask for a raise
  18. Plate meals, set the table more often
  19. Make little videos/montages of photos and videos
  20. Journal or blog more

They’re pretty random. As I was typing them out I realized some are single occurrence aspirations and others are ongoing and more abstract. Like I mentioned before, maybe each month I’ll pick two to actually turn into SMART goals or I’ll put an event on the calendar. We’ll see! A handful also seem really vague, but are actually slightly more detailed in my notebook. I just didn’t want to put too much out there for anyone to come across.

Are you planning any goals or aspirations for 2022? I’d love to hear them!

All the best,

Juliana

Running Diary: Training Plan – Here We Go!

Wow, what a week. To say I was happy for this week to be over and for a three day weekend would be an understatement. I was angry, exhausted, overwhelmed, elated, excited, and energetic all at once. This was the first week of our 50 miler training plan and all in all I think it went quite well. School and work kept me busy as always, but it felt really nice to go get these runs done, especially since we had some storms earlier in the week and then nice, much cooler weather to follow.

I was so ready for August to be over and I don’t really know why. Maybe because the rest of this year should be really fun? And August feels like the Sunday of the year to me. Whatever reason, I am glad it’s September!

Monday – August 30

10 min Foam Roll / 30 min Upper Body Strength / 20 min Yoga

Sabrina and I are doing one of the Peloton Strength programs, so we got started on that this week. I was surprisingly not too sore from the run on Sunday at Prince William Forest Park, but it still felt nice to have a day off my feet.

During my lunch break I ventured to Starbucks to try their apple crisp macchiato and I am sad to report that it was not good. It tasted like the leftover milk from Apple Jacks cereal and it was $5. Bummer.

Tuesday – August 31

6 mile Run / 15 min Foam Roll / 10 min Core + Glute Strength / 16 min Restorative Yoga

A speedy, solo run followed up with recovery? Love it. We tried the restorative yoga classes on Peloton recently and I love them. They’re sort of funny in that you might be lying in shavasana for half the class, but so relaxing! I also did this core class and it made me sore for a few days.

Wednesday – September 1

4 mile Run / 30 min Lower Body Strength / 17 min Yoga

A lunchtime run before the rain! It felt nice to move and groove in the less humid weather. I kept my weights lighter than normal for the lower body strength class, so that felt really nice too. I finally got around to burning my new fall candle (Pumpkin Vanilla Creme from Bath & Body Works)!

Thursday – September 2

6 mile Run / 30 min Full Body Strength / 20 min Foam Roll / 5 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 15 min Yoga

I treated this run like a recovery run and listened to a podcast for school during the first half. The podcast episode was so interesting that I went into running autopilot and just enjoyed what I was learning and the weather.

Friday – September 3

10 min Foam Roll / 16 min Yoga

Rest day! We started the morning eating bagel sandwiches that Erica brought home from DC after her night shift. This was a chill day at work prior to the long weekend and we spent the night grocery shopping.

Saturday – September 4

5.77 mile Run / 11 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 30 min Yoga

In the training plan, Saturdays are for a prescribed long run and Sundays are for a timed recovery run (to practice running on tired legs). We swapped those around this week for a multitude of reasons and I am so glad we did. We kept this run easy and the runner’s yoga after paired nicely with my tired legs.

Sunday – September 5

12.7 mile Trail Run

Oh boy, this was a tough one! Corbin Cabin Trail and Nicholson Hollow Trail at Shenandoah, over 3000 ft of climbing in 6 miles, and a little bit of rain. As I write this my glute medius and my ankles are still sore. The trail descended 3000 ft for the first four miles, then immediately began climbing again for four miles straight before a brief reprieve and then another long climb. It was rocky and the rain made things slick.

We hadn’t been out to Shenandoah in a while, so it was fun to be back in those woods. There were lots of backpackers camping on the Corbin Cabin Trail, but Nicholson Hollow felt way more remote and less utilized. We didn’t see any bears, but we did see a funky turtle on the trail! Afterwards we went to a cafe called Before & After before the drive home and I imagine we’ll visit many more times.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I am still pretty tired, but it’s nothing another good night of sleep won’t fix. Happy September!

Running Diary: A Rainy Week

Oops! Somehow a whole week went by and I didn’t even realize. We had a lot of rain this week, which thwarted some of the scheduling for running. Despite some workweek exhaustion and the crappy weather, it turned into a pretty great week of training and I am looking forward to kicking off our training plan!

Monday – August 23

25 min Full Body + Glute Strength / 10 min Foam Roll / 8 min Yoga

Classic non-running, strength training day. Nothing special to report here!

Tuesday – August 24

5 mile Track Run / 18 min Yoga

This was so fun. Erica and I had planned to attend a running store’s track practice, but the track was closed! We ended up driving into DC to use a track and it was pretty exciting to do a very different workout than normal. We started with a 1 mile warm up, then moved into progressively faster: 1200, 800, 400, kept the pace for another 400, and then slowed down for 800, 1200, with another mile as a cool down.

Running fast is hard and I commend those who do it all the time.

Wednesday – August 25

20 min Foam Roll / 20 min Core / 10 min Stretch

Ah yes, this was supposed to be a running day but turned into an easy strength day. I typically go to the office on Wednesdays, which can be really tiring. I also had my first class meeting for the fall semester and it was amazing. It really changes the vibe of the class when everyone is excited to be there.

hung this lil pinata in my office

Thursday – August 26

4 mile Run / 8 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 15 min Arms & Shoulders + Glute Strength / 10 min Foam Roll / 17 min Stretch

I was on a roll this day. It feels good to get the plantar fascia rehab done and it’s always a bonus when a run feels pretty good.

Friday – August 27

10 min Foam Roll / 20 min Yoga

Sweet, sweet recovery.

Saturday – August 28

5 mile Run / 7 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 20 min Yoga

We were supposed to do this mileage on Friday, but there was rain in the forecast so we skipped it. Instead we slept in on Saturday and then headed to the towpath for this mileage! It was so humid. So humid. It was an out and back, but when I turned around it felt like I couldn’t breathe because I no longer had a breeze in my face. Absolutely brutal. Nonetheless I survived the run and then Patrick and I went kayaking!

We parked at a boathouse on the path for our run, so it was only natural to get ice cream and to rent a tandem kayak after. I have been wanting to kayak on the Potomac since we moved here, but had never gotten around to it. Kudos to Patrick for suggesting it, especially since all the water-sports stuff starts to close after Labor Day!

Sunday – August 29

16 mile Trail Run / 20 min Restorative Yoga

Wooohoo, this was the best long run I’ve had in a very very very long time! We went to Prince William Forest Park (a classic) and had a great time. Erica and I almost kept the mileage to 13, but I am glad we did all 16. I even helped wrangle an eastern copperhead off the trail. This run made me feel good about starting our training plan. It was a confidence booster for sure.

Have a great week and an even better Labor Day weekend!

Running Diary: Much Needed Break

Hello! I am two weeks behind on another training update. I don’t even have a legitimate reason, I just never got around to it. My final year of grad school starts this week and I am looking forward to my classes for the semester. It’s a three year program because it was part-time and it feels like time has flown by. At the same time, starting my MSW in August 2019 feels like it was ages ago. Sometimes I forget I am even pursuing a degree and it feels more like a very intense, sometimes stressful, evening hobby.

Anyway, you’ll notice in these two weeks of training that it was time for a legitimate rest week. I’ve been feeling pretty good on my weekday runs, though struggling with motivation, and then feeling like absolute trash on weekend long runs. I decided I needed a week of super minor mileage. Erica and I are going to follow a (very) intense training plan for our race in March and we’re not starting until September. I can’t decide if I want to keep it easy until then or maintain where I am now. We’ll see. Patrick and I have a very exciting, travel and fun-packed autumn coming up and I am stoked!

Please get vaccinated, wear your mask (even if there’s no mandate where you are or if you’re vaccinated), wash your hands, and drink lots of water. 😉

Monday – August 9

20 min Full Body Strength / 22 min Yoga / 10 min Foam Roll

If I am not taking a rest day but it’s a day off of a running, I like to do a decent amount of strength training. The day before this had been our long run at Rock Creek Park and I had felt pretty good, so this workout wasn’t too hard. It also had 5 minutes of burpees at the end which was SOMETHING.

Went to REI to restock our running nutrition after the weekend’s long run. Can you tell what we like? P.S. Erica and I actually prefer different brands of stroopwafels. I go for Honey Stingers and she likes the GU brand.

Tuesday – August 10

10 min Foam Roll / 3 mile Run / 15 min Strength / 8 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 20 min Yoga

This week was so so unusually hot. All of our runs either happened early or much later in the day than normal to avoid the hottest and most humid parts of the day.

Patrick made noodles for dinner and got to try out his Sith chopsticks.

Wednesday – August 11

30 min Yoga

Bliss. I think I’ve mentioned it before but Yoga with Adriene has this amazing 30 min Runner’s Yoga and I am obsessed. It is the perfect stretch. I was pretty tired this day and thought I was going to fall asleep in a lizard pose.

Thursday – August 12

4 + 4 mile Run / 20 min Foam Roll / 20 min Arms & Shoulders Strength / 7 min Yoga

Another day of trying to not melt. The mileage layout of this week was very different than what I actually did. I can’t remember why I ended up squishing it all together, but it was a mistake. All in all I ran 8 miles this day: 4 before work and 4 during lunch. Not ideal, but pretty good practice for running on tired, slightly stiff legs.

It’s pretty nice to run before the world is really out and about.

Friday – August 13

6 mile Run / 10 min Foam Roll / 10 min Stretch

Another before work run! This run felt amazing. It wasn’t too hot or humid, my playlist was perfect, and it was so peaceful out on my route. However, the high would not last… See tomorrow’s run.

Saturday – August 14

16 mile Trail Run

Yikes, honey. You’ll notice that 30 of the 33 miles this week were 3 days in a row and that was a mistake. Patrick and I went to a nearby trail in Maryland, which we had to do as an out and back. I think cumulative fatigue, poor pre-run nutrition, and general anxiety about the run made this run so hard. I probably could’ve crawled faster. Any incline felt impossible and I think I may have bonked. It was rough, but we covered the distance and I survived. The trail was actually pretty nice!

Sunday – August 15

11 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 16 min Yoga

Sweet, sweet recovery. I can’t even imagine if I had tried to run this day. Patrick and I went out to Leesburg, VA and hit up an outlet mall and then walked around the Old Town area of Leesburg. We had lunch and waltzed around on the W&OD trail out there. It was nice!

Lunch at Delirium Brewing.

Monday – August 16

10 min Foam Roll / 50 min Strength / 16 min Yoga

This strength training was actually three different Peloton classes and they all felt great. I was worried about how I would feel from the long run on Saturday, but no issues. It was also my first time really focusing on lower body strength in a while. I’ve neglected it because I don’t want my legs to feel too sore, but I think it’s time to rope it back in again. This was also the start of my recovery week which really just meant very little running!

Tuesday – August 17

3 mile Run / 16 min Stretch

A sweaty, afternoon run. Of course! Trying to keep it super easy though.

Wednesday – August 18

2 mile Run / 10 min Core Strength / 20 min Foam Roll / 10 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 6 min Yoga

This run was fun. Erica had made an earl gray tea cake, so we got these easy miles in by running to her apartment to pick a hunk of the loaf up! The Arlington County Fair is right behind our house and opened this day, so we also got to see it get going.

Thursday – August 19

30 min Full Body Strength / 10 min Stretch

Powered by funnel cake. Patrick and I went to the Fair ourselves! We walked around, had some (mediocre) fair food for dinner and got a funnel cake!

Friday – August 20

3 mile Run / 5 min Glute Strength / 20 min Foam Roll / 15 min Stretch

After a very rainy morning the sun came up, the temps stayed low(ish), and the humidity was reigned in a bit. I made a funky route that ended a bit of a ways from our house so that we could walk back. It felt so nice to not be drenched in sweat!

Saturday – August 21

3.6 mile Hike / 30 min Chest & Back + Core Strength / 10 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 30 min Runner’s Yoga

Patrick and I are slowly but surely attempting to complete the Virginia State Park Trail Quest. Basically you just go to all the state parks and hike and log it. In return you get a cool enamel pin for certain benchmarks and then a little certificate ceremony once you’ve finished them all!

We headed out to Leesylvania State Park. It wasn’t far at all, but it is on the water so it’s primarily a boating park. We did hike around a bit and get a tour of the visitor center from a sweet volunteer.

We went to a mall afterwards since Patrick is in need of some new running shorts and it was a nightmare. So crowded. Such few masks. We got out of there as quickly as we could.

Sunday – August 22

8 mile Trail Run / 19 min Yoga

Yay, a down week trail run! It feels so nice to know your distance is shorter. We headed to Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland for the first time and it was AMAZING. The trailhead we went to is also 8 minutes from my office… I could not believe that park was in central MD. Fun fact: it’s where the Blair Witch Project was filmed. There were lots of runners and mountain bikers, the trails weren’t too technical and sometimes quite smooth, and it wasn’t too hot! So humid, as always though. Some of the trails on our route seemed to no longer exist which caused minor confusion, but we figured it out. Always helps when you have cell signal!

We headed to Historic Ellicott City afterwards to explore. Lunch was mediocre, but the town was neat. Felt sort of like a little mountain town.

Now I feel ready for another week of higher load! I needed a break and last week felt just right. The only caveat is that I didn’t sleep very well, which I think may have been from lack of running? Who knows. Things are looking up though!

Bye!

Running Diary: PTO, baby!

Hello and happy Monday! I am slowly catching up on work today as I took Thursday and Friday off last week. It was so nice to leisurely do things around the house, run errands, and be a little bit of a tourist. My brain needed the reset.

Our beautiful cooler temperatures are gone here in Arlington and back is the hot, muggy weather. 😦 The urge to pretend like it’s fall is tempered by the weather and the fact that school doesn’t even start here until after Labor Day! After our long run yesterday I wanted nothing more than to whip out my fall decorations and get started on the house, but I resisted. The days are already getting shorter, which is weird, so before we know it all these updates are going to be about running in the dark! Until then, here’s this week’s training:

Monday – August 2

20 min Yoga / 10 min Foam Roll

A much needed rest day after the long run out in George Washington National Forest. I think I had originally planned to run this day, but knew that would not go over well for me at all.

Tuesday – August 3

5 mile Run / 20 min Core Strength / 10 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 10 min Stretch

This was a day of beautiful weather! Running feels so much easier when it’s breezy and cool out. I think Erica and I ran this one together and I enjoyed it. I also forced myself to do my plantar fascia prehab and I am proud of that. If you have a Peloton account, I did this core strength with Andy Speer and I really love it. It feels really functional and I like not being on my back doing crunches the whole time.

We also had a family dinner out on the porch. It was quite nice. We made this pasta and it was pretty good!

Erica was there but she wouldn’t let me photograph her.

Wednesday – August 4

4 mile Speed Run / 20 min Chest & Back Strength / 20 min Foam Roll / 16 min Yoga

Normally when I want to do speedwork I queue up a Peloton outdoor run, but this run was different. It was nice out and I had recently discovered Billie Eilish’s new song Happier Than Ever. Listen to it and you can imagine how it kept my pace up pretty well!

Thursday – August 5

5 min Core Strength / 6 mile Run / 10 min Yoga

Day off of work! Patrick had to go in, so I spent the day walking to Trader Joe’s, sitting outside reading, and relaxing as much as possible. I knew we had 6 miles on the docket, but I wasn’t feeling inspired to run around the house and none of the trails that length nearby are great. We decided to change up the scenery and headed into DC to run around the National Mall instead.

It was so fun to see the monuments as the sun started to set and see people out and about! DC has a mask mandate for indoors, but people were still frolicking and enjoying themselves on the lawn by the Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument
The Lincoln Memorial

Friday – August 6

20 min Foam Roll / 10 min Stretch

Another rest day… sort of. We went back into DC on the Metro to go to the Natural History Museum. We ended up walking to lunch too before we took the Metro back into Virginia to go shopping! Walking around the museum and the mall was exhausting and my feet hurt quite a bit when we got home.

Lunch at Roti

Not to mention, I had just about no success finding work clothes. Everything is either the ultra trendy Gen Z fashion (which isn’t exactly workplace appropriate most of the time) or very casual, probably because of the work from home world we live in.

Saturday – August 7

2 mile Run / 12 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 30 min Strength / 21 min Yoga Stretch

Yes, you are reading that right: I did my plantar fascia prehab twice this week! Last week I mentioned that I wanted to do it 2-3 times a week and I met that goal. Now I just need to keep it up. I think the trick is to just do it right after I have finished running or working out to keep up the momentum.

The 2 mile run felt amazing. It was raining a tiny bit, I listened to a podcast about space hurricanes, and I felt like I was gliding. Love it.

Sunday – August 8

15 mile Trail Run / 30 min Runner’s Yoga

Oh boy, this was a long one! We decided to stay close to home and headed to Rock Creek Park (in DC) for this long run. That park is huge and fantastic, but the trails aren’t super well marked and it’s easy to get confused. Patrick ran on his own and Erica and I ran together. We were very very sweaty and ran out of water around mile 12, which wasn’t ideal. We also saw two snakes! From my research I think we saw either a ribbonsnake or an Eastern Garter Snake and a Black Rat Snake. They wanted nothing to do with us. Erica pointed out that it’s hard to believe we saw no snakes in the wilderness of West Virginia but saw two in DC.

The trails at Rock Creek aren’t super technical, but there are plenty of roots and it is much hillier than you’d expect. It was also fun to see other runners and hikers. The road that runs through the area seems to be closed to cars in the summer, so there were lots of cyclists as well.

My long runs have felt so difficult lately, so yesterday was refreshing! All I wanted was to jump in a pool afterwards, but we lounged around for the rest of the day instead.

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Running Diary: A Long One!

Hello, I’m back! I totally neglected this last week and so I have two weeks worth of training to share. Training has been challenging lately, but I am grateful for the opportunity to do it. July felt so long, but I also cannot believe it’s August. I am sitting on our screened in porch enjoying the oddly cool weather. I still have citronella candles going and had to spray myself with a light layer of bug spray, but it’s worth it.

I have said repeatedly that I am not trying to rush to summer’s end as I want to appreciate each season more, but… the breeze and lack of sweat is pretty fabulous. I drank my coffee out here earlier and I was in heaven. Anyway, onto the training!

Lately I feel like I can just not recover. Even with rest days, my long runs have been feeling so much harder than they should. My runs during the week tend to feel pretty good, so I’m not sure what’s breaking down in the long run equation. Cumulative fatigue? Maybe. The heat/humidity? Not sure. I’m hoping to get to the bottom of it soon.

Monday – July 19

35 min Strength / 10 min Stretch / 10 min Foam Roll

This day was a big one. It was the day of my big work event that I had been stressing about for weeks. All in all it went pretty well and I was so glad when it was over! I needed to work off nervous energy and lifting some weights did the trick.

Scenes from mission control of my work event

Tuesday – July 20

3 mile Run / 10 min Foam Roll / 17 min Yoga

Easy mileage. My brain was so foggy coming out of my work event; I felt fatigued from head to toe. I wasn’t trying to do anything too ambitious with my training until I started feeling better.

Wednesday – July 21

4 mile Hilly Run / 10 min Foam Roll / 15 min Yoga

This run was a feat of mental grit. I wanted nothing more than to turn around after one mile, but loaded up some good music and kept it easy. Of course, once I finished I was so glad that I had persevered. My mind and body felt better and I was pleased with how it went!

Thursday – July 22

3 mile Speed Run / 30 min Strength / 20 min Yoga

Another great run! When I want to incorporate speed I normally throw in a Peloton Outdoor Run. They tend to be pretty entertaining and push me to do faster bursts than I’d be able to do by myself. I also discovered Peloton’s Slow Yoga classes, which I love. They have a little more effort to them then the typical yin style yoga I like to do, but ultimately feel really nice.

Friday – July 23

22 min Foam Roll / 20 min Strength / 20 min Slow Yoga

An easy day. This whole week was meant to be a cutback week, though I do try to maintain strength training. I also neglected lower body strength training for a loooong time (because I was running so much!) but I am trying to gently reintroduce it.

I also went to a real life social event with a friend! I learned that Baltimore actually seems pretty awesome. The Science Center was hosting an adult-only event themed around Jurassic Park. We played Jenga with velociraptor claws.

Saturday – July 24

33 mile Bike Ride / 16 min Yoga

Oh my god, this ride. It was in rural Maryland and was beautiful! We stopped at McDonald’s for french fries and a chocolate chip cookie. Things got a little rocky when the route was a few miles longer than I thought it’d be and it started downpouring on us. Fortunately we were already on the C&O towpath, so there weren’t any safety concerns but we were muddy and gross by the time we got back to the car. Patrick normally brings towels to throw in the trunk, but somehow we didn’t have ANY. Good times.

Sunday – July 25

10 mile Trail Run / 16 min Stretch

I titled this run “Struggle bus never pulled over to let me off” on Strava. We went to Manassas Battlefield, a route that I intentionally chose for being an easy trail. The first mile or two I felt great, amazing, was going to be the best run ever. Somewhere around mile 6, things started falling apart. My legs felt heavy, nutrition felt crappy, and it turned into a slog.

I got the miles in and the trail was beautiful (as always), but boy it was tough. I think I said “I’m going to live right here” a few times on the trail. We also finally went into the visitor center, which was pretty neat. Erica came over for dinner this night and we had excellent grilled chicken, mediterranean quinoa salad, and peach cobbler for dessert. I’m hungry just writing about it.

Monday – July 26

10 min Foam Roll / 20 min Yoga

Good ole fashioned rest day. I always stretch and foam roll on rest days because it feels so nice. I also did both of these recovery items earlier in the day which left my evening wide open! Sometimes I rush my evenings, which I don’t love. There’s nothing quite like casually sipping Sleepytime tea on the couch.

I also went down a rabbit hole learning about what a Mobius Strip is. Highly recommend.

Tuesday – July 27

4 mile Hilly Run / 10 min Strength / 10 min Foam Roll / 10 min Stretch

Two hill repeats on the Courthouse Rd climb was enough for me. I didn’t feel too hot until about halfway through my second repeat. I wasn’t even really sweating too much until then! My pace was pretty even and my breathing was good. I love hill training because 1) I can see it paying off when doing ascents, but potentially even more exciting is that 2) I can see the downhill portion paying off as well! It really helps to protect the knees and IT band, so I am thrilled.

Wednesday – July 28

10 min Foam Roll / 5 mile Run / 10 min Strength / 7 min Plantar Fascia Recovery / 20 min Yoga

I was dead on my feet for this run. I kept saying I was going to move the miles to Friday, but I also really didn’t want to have to run on Friday. I told Patrick to be prepared to go slow and slow we went. At some point my legs woke up and felt okay, but my brain (and the rest of my body) still felt pretty sleepy. When we got back from the run I used the momentum I had left to get some strength work in. I felt pretty good after all was said and done and probably slept like a rock.

Thursday – July 29

5 mile Run / 30 min Strength / 20 min Yoga / 10 min Foam Roll

A rainy run! It’s always fun when that happens. Erica and I ran together while Patrick ran on his own. We weren’t sure if it would begin to truly storm, so we ran a 3 mile loop and then a smaller 2 mile loop to stay closer to home. Patrick lamented how humid it got after the rain stopped, but I didn’t notice. There was gentle, cool breeze that felt amazing and the clouds kept the sun from beating down on us.

Friday – July 30

30 min Strength / 7 min Planter Fascia Recovery / 22 min Yoga

This was a full body strength, so it was part of my effort to do more lower body training! Again, I used the momentum from doing the Peloton to get my plantar fascia recovery done. I am committing here to doing that at least twice a week (but I’d really like to aim for three times a week). It’s not hard, but it’s just challenging enough that you sweat too much for doing it after a shower.

Saturday – July 31

10 min Strength / 16 mile Bike Ride / 10 min Foam Roll / 8 min Yoga

The strength came before the bike ride as a way to active the core and glutes. We had planned to do more riding, but the path we were on got pretty busy which is a little annoying. I was also enjoying the casual riding, so we turned around once we got to Alexandria. We stopped at a hut/shack? called Weenie Beanie that we first passed on a run a few months ago. I got a cheesesteak and Patrick got a hamburger. This place is “known” for its hot dogs, so we both pondered why neither of us chose that after the fact.

We ate on a park bench before finishing our ride home, which included a pretty large hill! Powered by cheesesteak.

Sunday – August 1

14 mile Trail Run / 15 min Stretch

Holy crap. This run. My god.

3,000+ ft of elevation in this run, but don’t be fooled. All the elevation gain was contained to maybe 3-4 of the miles. I felt so terrible. More terrible than I should’ve, which was a little frustrating, but it was hard hard course. Thank god for trekking poles.

It was so brutal. The route was an edited version of a 50k course Patrick did back in March in George Washington National Forest. We did one of the ascents twice. 24.5% grade for half a mile. It was like climbing. The second go around I really thought I would not be able to take another step. BRUTAL.

We somehow did not see a bear, despite it looking and feeling like prime bear country! We did see some… characters out on the fire road but that’s another story for another time. Once we made it back to the car I sat on the ground to eat my sandwich and was glad to not be moving anymore.

I will do that route again sometime, if anything just for redemption.

I hope you have a fabulous week full of plenty of sleep, water, delicious food, and fun movement! We are planning to go bikecamping this week, so I am excited for that!

Juliana

Putting the Phone Down

Hi. Over the last week or so I have been making a concerted effort to put my phone down. I wanted to not mindlessly scroll Instagram and have time fly past me unnoticed. Staring at my phone, while providing the entertainment I craved, ultimately left me feeling cranky, useless, and… bored.

I know none of this is groundbreaking and it was something I had thought about and not acted on previously. Two things happened this go around that convinced me to stop with the screens so much.

First, I came across this TED Talk. Manoush Zomorodi talks about how being bored, or letting your mind enter a relaxed and relatively unengaged state, is actually good for you and helps your brain function better. In fact, it may make you more creative, let your thoughts flow more smoothly, and helps your neurons.

It made me think of a podcast episode about the runner’s high I had listened to recently where they talked about the flow state. It feels so nice when your brain isn’t being forced to process media or work and it can just roam freely however it pleases. I told Patrick recently after a stressful day while sitting in the car, driving to a park without any music and only minor conversation made my brain feel like it was taking a bath. It was so nice.

I highly recommend the TED Talk and the podcast episode (plot twist: it’s not really about running and it’s pretty short). These things got me thinking about how often I let myself just exist without consuming some sort of information and I realized it rarely happened. For example, if I was headed upstairs I would grab my phone to bring with me. I would then proceed to stare at my phone as I walked up the stairs. WHY? So unnecessary. I needed to cut back.

The second revelation for me was a thought process I had while on a run (classic). I asked myself the question: “what is holding you back?” I didn’t have any goal in mind, but the question was very general. What is holding me back from anything I want to do or accomplish or try? As I thought about it and the things I want to do with my time and life, I realized that it was me. (You know that I know there are structural and societal pieces at play for the large-scale goals I have, but that’s not what I’m talking about here).

An example I gave Patrick was that I want to do more and longer yoga before bed. I do yoga right before bed (usually) and sometimes, when I didn’t get to it until later, I do really short classes so that I can get into bed before it gets too late. Why am I waiting so long to get ready for bed and do yoga? Because I am staring at my phone for long periods of time during the day.

I have a book that I started and really want to read but barely touch because I told myself I didn’t have time. Well, if I picked up that book instead of my phone then maybe I could!

By putting my phone down I could also spend more time with Patrick, enjoy my coffee more, take morning walks, clean around the house more often, write this blog post, find inspiration for fun adventures, get school work taken care of sooner rather than later, hang out with my dogs, or just sit quietly in peace. It’s pretty nice.

I do love seeing what people are up to online, so I haven’t sworn it off completely but I don’t want it to be my go-to time filler anymore. That’s lame.

July is almost over and I still haven’t made peach cobbler, so I think I may use some of my newfound time to do that soon.

Love,

Juliana