Friday, March 22

Spring Break!

For the first time in more than two years, I'm taking a break. A Spring Break.
(Hey, teachers need some R&R, too.)

See y'all again in a few days!

Image source

Tuesday, March 19

Postcards from Maui (guest post)

While I've covered quite a lot of ground, I haven't been everywhere. (Yet...) So, I've enlisted some help from local experts in the "Postcards" series of running travel guides.

Today, we're going to Maui!

Our running tour guide is DC native and runner, Tai Fung. Tai is a regular run-chatter on Twitter and has been giving me pointers about what to do when I move to DC later this year. In the meantime, he's going to take us on a tour of his favorite vacation destination: Maui. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip.

Belated greetings from Maui!

I appreciate Beth letting me guest post this tale of my time in Maui, along with my experience running it. I travel to Maui yearly (or have, over the past few years), and stay on the west side. Maui is kinda shaped like a sideways number 8, with the left/west circle a little smaller than the right/east one.

Fortunately, based on the amount I eat and drink while I'm there, there are plenty of things to do, activity wise, so those Mai-Tai calories can find a little outlet. And really, would a guy with my handle drink anything ELSE?
Tai's Mai-Tai
I'm usually in Kahana, Maui, which is not far from the former capital of Hawaii, pre-statehood, Lahaina ("La-hi-nah," which translates roughly as "cruel/relentless/unforgiving sun").  Arriving in Maui, my full-blooded Italian roots kick in, and I quickly tan up, but if you're of a more fair complexion, bring or buy sunscreen -- the waterproof kind!

You'll see lots of morning runners in West Maui, and waving to each other seems to be the custom (even in my home of Washington, DC, I usually flash the Hawaiian "hang loose" wave when passing runners, since, after all, wouldn't we all rather be in Hawaii?).

In the Kahana region of Maui, there are two primary roads of interest, known as the "upper" and "lower" roads.  The "upper" road, is just Highway 30, the Honoapiilan Highway. This is where you'll get a lot of good, uninterrupted mileage. But beware! It is HILLY, and you'll often have a wind either going or coming. But run against traffic, and you'll get an excellent run in. Scenery-wise, there isn't a LOT that you'll see, although at certain points along the road, you can stop and watch the ocean. Wait long enough, and you'll see (male) Humpback Whales breaching, slapping fins, or otherwise trying to find a lady whale to make "friends" with (I guess these whales haven't discovered But the whales are only there in the winter, and if you're out running on the highway, you'll want to keep moving before you're baked to a crisp (you DID put on sunscreen for this run, didn't you??).

I snapped this picture after running along the upper highway, and then headed down to the beach to cool off.  That's not a camera trick.  That's just the biggest rainbow you've ever seen.
Maui Rainbow
The "lower" road is called the (wait for it!) LOWER Honoapiilani Highway(!).  This is a little more challenging for a hard run, but if you're looking for an easy, I'm-on-vacation run, you'll want to run here. You'll be with tons of runners doing slower paces (often because of walkers, driveways, etc), but you can see amazing views.  One of my favorite stops is Pohaku Park, nicknamed "S-turns" by the locals.  From here,  you can often see Green Sea Turtles swimming in the waves, and muching on the Limu (algae) on the rocks.
Beautiful views while on the run in Maui
As for beach running itself -- I advise against it.  Hawaii, at least Maui, is pretty rocky in places. You won't go as far as you think before you have to turn back, or move up to a road. On the plus side, walking the beaches is lovely as a post-run cooldown, because you can find amazing lava rocks. Here's one I found that formed a perfect little heart:
Heart-shaped lava rock
Bearing in mind the fate of Greg Brady, I threw it back after photographing it. Hawaiians take very seriously the removal of lava rocks from their home, and that a curse follows those who do. So don't, or be in deep doo-doo. Dig?

Sorry.  Anyway.

I have more pictures on my Instagram account, including a simulated picture of Steven Tyler (who I literally almost ran into in Lahaina).

Oh!  One thing before I finish up -- West Maui does have the lovely highway 30 for running great distances, but do NOT try and run in Lahaina, along their lower road, called "Front Street." It can't be done. Tourists abound. Kids. Cars. The odd homeless surfer who also happens to think he's Jesus Christ (really). Go there for a wonderful, memorable visit, but get your run in another time.

Finally, if you're really itching to race, check out the Maui Oceanfront Marathon, which features many different distances, and runs along some really lovely areas of West Maui, including Lahaina (when delusional surfers are shoo'd away).

Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or my own blog.

Aloha, and Mahalo to Beth for this opportunity!

Monday, March 18

Weekly workout

Refusing to let a job-changing, city re-locating, house-buying, summer turn me into a couch potato...

Last week's plan / actual:
  • Monday plan: strength circuit + 60 min bike
    Actual: Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred, level 1 + 50 minutes on stationary bike

  • Tuesday: 4 mile run or swim
    Actual: 4 mile run

  • Wednesday: yoga
    Actual: 25 minute gentle yoga from Yoga Download. I generally enjoy the podcasts and videos from Yoga Download, but this one was a bummer. I found myself wondering how much longer I'd have to stay in child's pose. Maybe it was my state of mind that day, but I'd only give this video 2 out of 5 stars.

  • Thursday: strength circuit + swim
    Actual: 40 minutes in the pool with 25 minutes of lap swimming and 15 minutes of pool running. (Those foam dumbbells are a great arm/shoulder workout!)

  • Friday: rest day
    Actual: REST

  • Saturday: 5 mile run or hike
    Actual: 6.5 mile hike

  • Sunday: anything goes
    Actual: rest

This week's plan:
  • Monday: strength circuit + 60 minute bike ride
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run
  • Wednesday: yoga
  • Thursday: strength circuit + 6 mile run
  • Friday: rest day
  • Saturday: 4 mile run
  • Sunday: anything goes

Friday, March 15

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!

Pricey Pedals

If you thought the $17,000 Chanel Bicycle was a tad pricey, you might be astounded by the newest luxury bike: a Lamborghini cycle.
Image source
Guess how much it costs?
(I'll post the price in the comments section after people have had a chance to guess...)

Bathroom humor

If you're reading this in the john... you're not alone. Three quarters of people use their cell phone while they're in the bathroom.

Failure is... inevitable? A mark of success? Failure?

The essay Stop Fetishizing Failure hit the nail on the head for me. An excerpt:
"...I’ve never liked this embrace of failure. We learn as much from our successes as from our failure and I suspect we learn much more. Besides, I failed a lot in school. I didn’t test all that well and didn’t get straight As. Failure made me feel awful... It has serious consequences. Get labelled a “Failure” and it can ruin your life.... be aware of the fallacy of failure. It is celebrated only when you succeed. If you continue to fail, you’re going to be— A Failure. So the fetishism of failure really means you can fail a couple of time—two or three or maybe three times— but no more. How many entrepreneurs are celebrated for their sixth or seventh try?"
I love the idea that "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." However, in business life, I cringe whenever coworkers extoll "virtues" like "Fail fast. Fail often." Um... doesn't that just mean you wasted a lot of precious time cleaning up messes? What's wrong with thinking through a problem, planning for possible roadblocks, and succeeding?!?

A failure shouldn't keep you from moving forward, but failure also shouldn't be a goal.

In my kitchen

I had overripe bananas, so this week I turned them into tropical multigrain muffins, using essentially the same batter recipe that I use for multi-grain pumpkin pecan muffins. I swapped out the pumpkin with mashed banana, a quarter cup of drained and crushed canned pineapple, and I added a sprinkle of coconut flakes to the batter.

Reason #1 to feed your pet indoors...
Source: via Career on Pinterest

Quote of the week:
"Date a runner. Every other athlete is a player."
As seen on a t-shirt

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, March 13

Daily dose of awesome x 3

Little awesome moments happen every day. They just don't always become headline news...
Daily Dose of Awesome highlights the awesome little things that don't make headlines (but should).

Daily dose of awesome #1

Last weekend I went for a run near a popular city park, Bayview Park. The sun was shining. The tennis courts were buzzing with activity. As I rounded a bend to walk down the hill to the bayou, I stopped because a mob of kids -- easily three dozen teenagers -- had taken over the sidewalk.

My first thought, sadly, was "What kind of trouble are these kids up to?!?"

But, on closer inspection, I realized that they were all hanging out and having a grand ol' time racing their scooters and skateboards down the hill. They were laughing, and playing, and enjoying a gorgeous day.

No property damage. No bullying. Just a (huge) bunch of kids having a good day.

Daily dose of awesome #2

My blog-buddy Kim was the recipient of a random act of Paying it Forward!
(Free lunches do exist, and they restore a little bit o' faith in humanity!)

Daily dose of awesome #3

A friend found out that I landed a new job in DC.

One morning this week, when I went into my office for office hours, I found a congratulations card tucked under my keyboard...

That one sweet gesture brightened my whole week!

Monday, March 11

Are you my next guest blogger?

Do you have stunning vacation photos that deserve a wider audience?
Would you like to tell the world about your runner-friendly hometown?
Are you interested in driving more traffic to your own blog?

If your answer to any of these questions is "yes," this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I am looking for guest bloggers to expand the "Postcards" series of travel-related posts.

Image source
Step 1: Let me know you're interested!
Tweet me @RunTraveler or send an email to me - coffeeb123 (at) yahoo (dot) com - with the following information:
  • Your name
  • A link to your blog
  • The location you would like to write about in your guest post

Step 2: Send me your postcard
Email the text of your post to me along with 2-4 of your own photos illustrating the location. I generally accept submissions as-is, but I reserve the right to make minor modifications for grammar and clarity.

Step 3: Showtime!
I will post your postcard along with introductory text that links readers back to your blog. I'll send you a note to let you know when it's live.

What makes a good Postcard?

Postcards posts are generally 250-750 words, but good content is more important than length.

As with a hard-copy postcard, photos are crucial. Images do not need to be studio quality, but should capture the spirit of the area you describe.

To make the link between travel and running, text should highlight one (or more) of the following:
  • Favorite local running route(s)
  • Popular local running club(s)
  • Running gear stores that cater to runners with extra perks (e.g. provide lockers and restrooms for use by runners, organize weekly group runs, etc...)

I hope to hear from you!

Weekly workout

As I mentioned last week, the quest for the sub-24 5k is being put on hold temporarily... But that doesn't mean I'm turning into a couch potato!

Last week's plan / actual:
  • Monday plan: strength circuit + 60 min bike
    Actual: Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred, level 3 + 60 minutes on stationary bike

  • Tuesday: 4 mile run or swim
    Actual: 3.5 mile run

  • Wednesday: yoga
    Actual: 25 minute gentle yoga + 3 mile walk

  • Thursday: strength circuit + swim
    Actual: 4 mile run. I looked at my swim gear bag, and realized that I felt like running. Four miles glided by easily and painlessly.

  • Friday: rest day
    Actual: REST

  • Saturday: 5 mile run or hike
    Actual: St. Patrick's day Prediction Run 5k hosted by McGuire's (plus another couple of miles run getting to the event). With 16,000 participants, parking is an issue best avoided!

  • Sunday: anything goes
    Actual: 4 mile walk

This week's plan:
  • Monday: strength circuit + 60 minute bike ride
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run
  • Wednesday: yoga
  • Thursday: strength circuit + swim
  • Friday: rest day
  • Saturday: 5 mile run or hike
  • Sunday: anything goes

Saturday, March 9

McGuire's Prediction 5K

This morning I ran 3.1 miles with more than 16,000 green-clad friends.
"I'm the one in green!" shouted a woman behind me
as a news crew took panoramic photos of the race.
Billed as the nation's largest "prediction run," the McGuire's 36th Annual Prediction Run 5k did not disappoint. Race officials announced that 16,150 people registered for the McGuire's 5k. This beat 15,000 registrants and more than 10,000 finishers in at the race in 2012.


After 3 years of running this race (first in 2011 and again in 2012) I have little new to report, other than noting that I'm always amazed at how smoothly the McGuire's folks manage to herd 16,000 runners through a bizarrely quick-and-painless bib pickup, a well coordinated (if a bit crowded) 3.1 mile run, and a raucous after-party.

With 16,000 participants converging on a tiny parking lot behind a restaurant, you'd think bib pickup would be a nightmare, but McGuire's pre-race organization is virtually the antithesis of a big-name event.

Think of the last Rock 'n' Roll expo you attended or read about. Compare that with a yoga class. That's about how different the two scenes are. Now, I mean no disrespect to the mega events that groups like Competitor and NYRR coordinate. There is an important place for those events in the running world. But with a similar numbers of competitors, it's hard not to make comparisons.

McGuire's has no frills, but is incredibly efficient. You arrive at packet pickup. You get your bib and t-shirt. You can get a wrist-band if you want to enjoy after-party adult beverages. You go home. The entire process takes less time than ordering a latte at Starbucks.

If you like the atmosphere of a race expo (and many runners do), you'll be disappointed by how little swag there is. If you run for the bling, this is definitely not your race. But if you prefer an event that is pared down to the basics: bib + t-shirt + run + party, you'll love this run.


Also... if stunt runners make your day, this race is definitely for you.

This year a man dressed as a "runaway bride" was my favorite costume-clad runner. The race also brought out 2 cows, 2 moose, a couple of bananas, and Bob Ross "Joy of Painting" his way through the 5k.
Runaway bride at the McGuire's 5k
Last year's Irish Mariachi band of runners was pretty cool, too.

Click here for more photos from the 36th annual McGuire's Prediction Run 5k.

Friday, March 8

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!

First and foremost: happy International Women's Day!
Just think... 40 years ago, women weren't allowed to compete in marathons for fear that endurance sports would make them infertile.

What? You don't believe me? Well then read the Runner's World piece on 6 women who protested the Amateur Athletic Union's bar against women marathoners...
(And feel free to stop by my Data Insights blog or my Examiner articles for current issues in gender equity research.)

Bizarre uses for everyday products

SUAR teaches us about some disturbing interesting uses for household products: a banana peel removes scratches from CDs, and a tampon can be used to plug a gunshot wound until medical treatment is available. (See Beth's full list here.)

Very punny

Strong is the new... strong!

Miz Fit's post "Strong is not the new Sexy" left me clapping at my keyboard.
Strong is strong. Period.

In my kitchen

With my oddball teaching schedule, the crockpot is my new favorite kitchen tool. (Hubby does plenty of cooking, but sometimes it's nice when we both get to come home to a home-cooked meal without doing any last minute work.)

This slow-cooker chicken tikka masala looks fantastic.
Source: Real Simple magazine

Quote of the week:
"Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead."
Kara Goucher

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, March 6

Rant & Rave

(Alt. title: Leave my clock alone!)

Springing forward.

Oh, how I hate the twice-yearly time change foolishness.

Mornings are finally light enough that waking up at 6 a.m. seems reasonable. Yet some genius decided we have to turn our clocks back this weekend. The fact that the time changes throw off everyone's internal clock (and leads to an increase in car accidents the day after the spring time shift) doesn't seem to be sufficient reason to get rid of this antiquated clock-changing rubbish.

(I should take bets on how many of my students will miss class on Monday morning...)

(Alt. title: Kid does good.)

From Yosemite National Park...
"The rangers that answer the phone and mail in our public information office receive a lot of letters, but this might be one of the best in recent years."

What are you ranting and raving about this week?

Tuesday, March 5

In search of the... change of plans

The quest for the sub-24 5k is being put on hold temporarily... 

My pre-race workouts were exactly as they should've been last week. But that 5k I was supposed to run on Saturday? That turned into a home loan appointment at the bank... I have no regrets about skipping the race.

Image by Colemama
Ok... maybe I have a few regrets.

I was hitting paces in the 6s during my track workouts leading up to this race, and race-day weather was PERFECT.

Unfortunately my timeline for making the big move just got moved up to May instead of July. (Read: I move in 2 months, not 4. Yikes!) So lots of pieces need to come together in the next 8 weeks. That bank appointment couldn't be postponed.

Racing has to take a back seat.

(On top of that, my right foot has been saying "go back to pool running" for a few days... It's about time I listened.)

Last week's plan / actual:
  • Monday plan: strength circuit + 60 min bike + stretching
    Actual: Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred, level 2 + 60 minutes on stationary bike

  • Tuesday: 4 mile run
    Actual: 4 mile run

  • Wednesday: yoga
    Actual: 25 minute gentle yoga + 3 mile walk

  • Thursday: 3 mile run
    Actual: 3 mile run

  • Friday: rest day
    Actual: REST

  • Saturday: RACE DAY!
    Actual: A morning appointment with our bank + an afternoon walk (Banking and a walk don't make a very sexy workout combination, but it did feel like an accomplishment to cross a major "To Do" off of the home-buying checklist... Now if only someone will put a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home for sale in DC within walking-distance of my new job...)

  • Sunday: anything goes
    Actual: 5 mile trail run at Fort Pickens

This week's plan:
My new goal for the next two months is to maintain my strength and run for stress relief.
  • Monday: strength circuit + 60 minute bike ride
  • Tuesday: 3 mile run or swim
  • Wednesday: yoga
  • Thursday: strength circuit + swim
  • Friday: rest day
  • Saturday: 5 mile run or hike
  • Sunday: anything goes

How are you doing on your 2013 goals?

Monday, March 4

Morning motivation: reader favorite

This week's morning motivation first appeared more than a year ago, and remains a reader favorite:

"It hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse."
~Ann Trason, ultrarunner

Friday, March 1

Weekly roundup: Friday's awkward potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck! This week's theme: Umm... Awkward!

Fact Check

A reporter, covering the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans marathon and half marathon, didn't recognize Olympian and race winner Mo Farah and treated him like an amateur when she interviewed him. Oops. (Thanks to Gourmet Runner for the link!)

For shame!

The person who wrote this "Embarrassing Workout Issues" article has obviously never worked out a day in her life. The biggest embarrassment is bad makeup after a workout? Seriously? WHO WEARS MAKEUP DURING A WORKOUT?!?

My open letter comment to the author:
If you're so worried about visible panty line that you encourage women to wear a thong while they're doing dead-lifts, you're in the wrong line of work...

REAL embarrassing workout issues include: running so hard you lose bladder control, chafing so badly that your bloody nipples show through your shirt, taking a spill on your bike, or having a big gob of snot stuck to your face after a few laps in the pool.

Double take

This "big dog purse" developed by the Carmichael Collective cannot go unnoticed... (The accompanying video is amusing.)
Image source
Carmichael Collective's art work also includes urinal cake cupcakes, a censorship towel, and (my personal favorite video) running from transitions:

At least it's a prize?

Voting is underway to name the "Oddest Book Title of the Year" for 2012.
Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter and Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes are among the titles vying to be known as the most bizarrely-titled books.

Last year's prize winner was Cooking With Poo.
(Seriously, people, I couldn't make this stuff up...)

Best whoopie cushion. Ever?
Source: via Beth on Pinterest

Quote of the week:
"Anyone who isn't embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn't learning enough."
Alain de Botton

Happy Friday, friends!