Monday, October 24, 2016

Lucky #5

On October 15, I ran my fifth half marathon. My last one was over a year and a half ago, and honestly, the two races couldn't have been any different.

This was the first time I ran a "destination" race--it was part of the Baltimore Running Festival which includes a marathon, 5k, and marathon relay. My friend and I went to Baltimore the night before and stayed at a hotel super convenient to the expo and start line.

Most races require you to get up at zero dark thirty--the city wants to open up streets again at a reasonable hour and the organizers want to take everything down at some point too. So most races I've run have started at 7 or 8 a.m., so marathoners can finish by noon and the half folks finish by 10 or 11 a.m.

Well, this race started at 9:45 a.m. The half marathon start line is at Mile 13 of the marathon. So the marathoners got started at 8 a.m. and merged with us when our race started. Since we were staying about 6 blocks from the start line, we had the most leisurely morning, which included eating about 3 mini-breakfasts (when you wake up at 7 but aren't running for three hours, you're not sure how to fuel yourself!).

The race itself was packed and had a great crowd cheering--just the way I like it. However, I did not see ANY part of Baltimore that stuck with me, other than a cool bell tower thing at the top of the WORST hill of the race. I feel like the DC halfs (and even the Dallas ones I've run) take you by landmarks and cool things, but the only thing I remember in Baltimore is the Giant supermarket I ran by. Scenic.

Mentally, this race was different from all the others. I never lost my mind (or had a desperation mile), but the miles didn't fly by either. I feel like I just systematically ticked them off as they went by.

The people of Baltimore are swell, though. Volunteers were dressed as crabs, passing out pretzels, beer, bananas, gummy bears. Families out with their kids, playing music, cheering for complete strangers.

For this race, I listened to podcasts most of the time. The West Wing Weekly, specifically, they had two episodes covering the beginning of season 2 (In the Shadow of Two Gunman, Part 1 & 2, for fans) and good interviews along with them. That kept me occupied until mile 10 when I suddenly needed all the music, and switched to my Spotify running list.

Finish line song

I continued my trend of wanting nothing to do with the "Celebration Village" at the end. The last thing I want to do is hang out with people who also just ran many miles. I want to leave and get brunch. I also was a bit woozy and off balance at the end of the race. I grabbed about 18 different snacks they were offering, had a bite of each and threw them away.

My friend and I walked to Federal Hill and had a cute (and cheap!) brunch at a cafe where I had no fewer than three beverages (mimosa, beer, hot water with lemon--I was cold). We then realized how bad we smelled, and decided it was time to head back to DC. I ended the day at 3 a.m. (!) after a party at a friend's house (sidenote: am too old to stay out until 3 a.m. And too old to take shots, but that's another blog post).

And, I'm now done with half marathons for a long time. I had set a goal to run a half marathon a year, then took 2012 and 2013 off because of injuries. I've run one the last three years, and honestly, I hate the training now. I used to love training--yes, it took over my life, but running was fun, and I would lose myself in the miles. That hasn't happened lately. And it's really stressed me out. This training was among the worst--my longest run was 8 miles (I try to run 10 as my longest), and recovery took a LONG time for even shorter distances. Still, I managed to PR on this race, and we're going to call that good for a few years. Maybe 10. Maybe forever. Who knows?

So for now, I'm creating a shadowbox with my five medals and giving my running shoes a break.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Five

It's been a hot minute, but I'm trying to get back into updating this a bit more, if anything for the time capsule aspect (I do get a kick out of reading my previous entries, no matter how mundane).

Here are five things I'm loving this unseasonably warm week in DC (OH, is this what Indian Summer is?!)

1. These pants from Old Navy. After loving a pair of straight-leg jeans I bought there last March (when I forgot to bring a single pair of pants on a trip to Houston, Hail Mary purchase FTW!), I decided I wanted some straight-leg black pants for work and play in the fall and winter. After trying pairs on from BR, Ann Taylor Loft, and J Crew, who'd a thunk that I'd LOVE the pair from Old Navy? They continue to surprise me. I haven't washed them yet, but have high hopes. I wear them with long-ish tops and cute flats. I might also pair them with my newly-purchased-but-yet-to-arrive booties.

2. Everyday Seasoning from Trader Joe's. I was never one for spice blends, preferring my garlic salt and black pepper for everything. I don't recall when I first bought this, but guys, I put it on ANYTHING I'm cooking on the stove or in the oven. It has that perfect blend of all the flavors.

And, don't start talking to me about 21 Seasoning Salute. It has Celery Seed or Salt in it and it's all I taste. Gross.

3. Season 3 of Younger. Guys, it's back. And while I can tell they're trying to string out several storylines for no reason, I love the show too much to complain. Are you watching yet?!

4. Texting with friends about TV shows. I have such fun conversations with far-flung friends over the TV shows we both watch (Younger included). The best is when I'm significantly behind on a show and they're like "oh yeah, I remember when that happened a few years ago"

5. Booking 2017 travel. It's started. (At least the wedding save-the-dates have) 

Happy weekend!

Monday, October 3, 2016

My Favorite Podcasts, Pt 2

Getting to Know You

Fresh Air: If you think of the soothing NPR voice, you're probably thinking of Terry Gross who hosts this podcast. Roughly 45 minute interviews with actors, artists, newsmakers, authors, academics. Gross is famous for her prep and being able to get right to the root of something with her guests. And the interview subjects are usually starstruck that they're talking to THE Terry Gross. I recommend listening to Amy Poehler's interview with her.

Dear Sugar: We all remember the book Wild, by Cheryl Strayed (yes, the one with the boot on the cover). This advice podcast is hosted by Strayed and Steve Almond where they answer letters they receive from listeners. Talk about soothing voices, their voices will calm any anxiety you have. It's often letters about love that they answer, but they sprinkle in a good amount of inter-personal issues.

Dear Prudence: Another advice podcast, this time from Slate. Dear Prudence has been written by several different people, but typically covers all type of inter-personal and personal problems.

Working: There are a few Slate podcasts on this list, and this is one of them. I wrote about this previously, when the first season had ended (didn't know podcasts had seasons?) but it's back! And has a heavy focus on DC and The White House at the moment.

News and Other Serious Things (warning: I get real wonky on this)

NPR Politics Podcast: I found this podcast during the conventions, when they were posting daily updates. And man, am I glad I did. A variety of NPR political reporters, from campaign to White House to Congress to general political, talk about the week's news in politics. It's especially entertaining during campaign season, but I look forward to what they do when it's just a humdrum March week.

More Perfect: Have you ever heard about a Supreme Court ruling and thought "wow, that's really specific and I don't see what this has to do with me?" This podcast goes super in-depth in an interesting way to some cases, interviewing the people involved, and basically showing why you should care about a case. (NPR podcast)

Amicus: A Slate podcast ALSO about the Supreme Court. The new season just started with an episode about RBG, so clearly I was hooked.

Double X: Yet another Slate podcast, which talks about different issues affecting women. Recent episodes have talked about burkinis, trigger warnings, and men trying to talk to women wearing headphones. Three women are on the "panel" one of whom is Australian (or British) and a lesbian, so she brings an interesting perspective to many of the topics.

Death, Sex, and Money: A podcast that talks about the three things people don't talk about. I happen to have listened to more of the ones about death, but I assume they cover more than that!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Favorite Podcasts, Pt. 1

I've been a podcast fan ever since my drive to DC back in 2013--nothing passes 22 hours on the road like listening to other people talk.

Lately, I've been stepping up my podcast game and have some recommendations, some from friends, and some that I've found on my own. This will be a few posts long, so come back for Part 2.

Fun and Entertainment:

My Dad Wrote a Porno: Imagine your dad, in retirement, writes an erotic novel which he self-publishes. So what do you do? Gather two friends and make a podcast where you read each chapter aloud and comment on it. Did I mention they're British?

The Baby-Sitters Club Club: I'm only a few episodes in on this one, but given my love of these slow recap podcasts (see The West Wing Weekly and Gilmore Guys), and the fact that this is one of my favorite book series, I'm predicting a good thing.

Sleep with Me: Ironic that I put this under Fun and Entertainment. Because the point of this podcast is to put you to sleep. It is neither fun nor entertaining. Read more here.

People I want to Be Friends With

Still Buffering: This is my new favorite podcast. Three sisters, two in their 30s and one age 16, discuss common topics about teen life--everything from food to shopping to body image, with the older sisters talking about their experience and the younger one talking about hers. Their rapport is delightful and, being in the same age group as the older sisters, it brings a heavy dose of nostalgia. Also, they're friends with Lin-Manuel Miranda!

Call Your Girlfriend: Billed as "a podcast for long distance besties everywhere", two friends who live across the country from each other cover current events and whatever else they want to talk about. It can be a bit preachy at times, and they can be self-involved, but always good for a few laughs or "I know that's right!" exclamations.

Happier: I think I've written about this before? Author Gretchen Ruben (The Happiness Project) and her sister Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer, talk about happiness tips and ways to find happiness in your life. I find their rapport so refreshing and their topics genuinely interesting (noticing a theme? I like podcasts with sisters, haha)

I Want it That Way: Perhaps the most risque podcast I listen to (and I listen to a porno on tape, basically), this is Bustle's sex and relationship podcast. It answers questions you're afraid to ask, and questions you didn't know you had, and is just a refreshingly honest and frank look at dating, sex, marriage, etc. by some cool ladies.

Adulthood Made Easy: So, I love Real Simple. Like a lot. And they came out with a whole suite of podcasts a year or two ago. Some were about cooking, relationships, romance, but this one is the only one I stuck with. Sam Zabell, a RS staffer and quasi-recent college grad, hosts this podcast that covers everything someone needs to know for being in the real world for the first time. It started out talking about how to find an apartment and navigating your first holidays at home as a "real adult", but has expanded to some more niche topics, like how to know when feeling down is really depression, how to use credit cards responsibly, dos and don'ts of moving in with a significant other, being a bridesmaid, etc. I don't listen to every episode, but I usually enjoy the ones I do make time for.

So there's a start as to the podcasts I'm listening to right now. What podcast are you obsessed with at the moment?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Emmy Catch-Up

It's no secret I love live awards shows, and the Emmy's are a favorite. I was especially impressed with this year's show--with Jimmy Kimmel as host (appropriately funny and not flashy, it's not his thing) and with the winners. Some thoughts on my favorites below:

I Watch Good TV:

So many of my favorite shows won awards this year. Veep winning for best comedy series after a strong season made me so happy, though I do think Julia Louis-Dreyfus needs to take her name out of contention now. She's won five Emmys for Veep alone, so let someone else be prom queen, ok?

Maggie Smith winning for Downton Abbey, while a bit overdone, was a lovely send-off for the show, even if she has never shown to accept her award. I still can't believe that show is over.

Game of Thrones winning for best drama was also well-deserved, this season was non-stop action and plot development and honestly one of the best seasons of the show.

The People vs. OJ Simpson was also a big winner for the night--and if you haven't watched it, you should. I thought David Schwimmer really deserved an Emmy for his performance as Robert Kardashian, but am also happy that Sterling K. Brown won as Christopher Darden. That show was full of so many good performances, it's hard to single one out.

But, the thing I was the most happy about?

Tatiana Maslany winning Best Actress in a Drama for Orphan Black

I know I don't watch this show anymore, but I will always be a fan girl of Tatiana Maslany and especially of her, I think, 8 roles on Orphan Black. The show went off the deep end a bit for me, but, man, she's awesome. 

So, keep on keepin' on, Emmys, and branching out from Modern Family as a default winner for all the things. See you next year. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Dog Days of Summer Catch-Up

I think it's been about 4 months since I've done one of these, so  might as well see what I'm up to this summer? I have to say, it's been the hottest summer since I moved to DC (though I do admit that my first three summers were pretty wimpy in terms of heat and humidity, so I had it coming), so much of my activities have been focused on staying cool and ultimately embracing frizzy hair.

What I'm drinking
It's my second summer of The Passport Program, which lets me try out new (to me) bars and save $$ on drinks. I've hit up lots of new spots and some old spots that I hadn't frequented in awhile (pro-tip: Kapnos has a fantastic happy hour and is never busy!! WHY?!?!). I've had struggles finding my go-to Shiner Ruby Redbird this year, so the Passport Program has been a good way to get out of a bar rut and support local businesses.

What I'm reminiscing about
For some reason, summer 2013 has been in my rearview mirror a lot lately. Perhaps because it was my first summer in DC, and I embraced it with gusto. Between trips I took and visitors I had, plus just general DC fun, it was a pretty great summer.

What I'm Loving
Where I am right now. There are so many good things happening in my life, from friends having kids and getting engaged, to spending time with people I love, to the slow pace of summer, to my church that continues to affirm why it's in my life, to having so many credit card points that I get to plan crazy trips (that I may or may not take).

Also, my new apartment. I've lived alone in the past, but it's my first time doing so in DC, and man is it great. I'm also in a quieter hood and close to friends, and really like the set-up of my place, so despite all my moving angst, and the money that one seems to hemorrhage when moving and setting up a new place, it's worth it.

What I've been up to
All the workouts. I joined ClassPass in July to try it out after many friends raved about it. Instead of a membership to one gym or studio, it's a membership to hundreds in your area, from yoga to spin to barre to HIIT, etc. The catch? You can only visit each studio three times a month. I like the cancellation policy--you must cancel 12 hours ahead of time or they charge you. It keeps me from sleeping through my alarm or getting home from work and deciding I'm too tired to go to spin. My favorite thing has been getting into hot yoga, which I love and hate. But I've tried out lots of new gyms and feel like I've helped combat SOME of the Passport Program effects :-)

What I'm Excited About
My usual answer--upcoming travel. I have a mix of work and fun trips coming up, including Labor Day in LA to celebrate a special lady's 30th birthday, and a return to one of my favorite cities--Vegas!

Oh, and also, my own birthday! It will be decidedly more low-key than last year's jaunt to Greece, but it's always nice to spend it with friends.

But let's not forget something that I get excited about every four years:

True story: I used to want my wedding processional to be the Olympic theme. My Olympics love knows no bounds. You have been warned. 

What I'm Dreading
My post-travel exhaustion. A total first-world problem, I know, but I had three trips in three weeks earlier this summer, and between the energy you need to travel, sleeping in hotel beds, time changes, and feeling like I'm missing out on life in DC, I was exhausted.

What I'm Watching
Not a whole lot right now as I've kicked Ballers to the curb, Royal Pains has ended (sob), and Playing House hasn't yet started. When will that be coming back, USA Network?!

What I'm Listening to
The West Wing Weekly podcast. Hosted by Josh Malina (Will Bailey on TWW) and Hrishi Hriway (who I was introduced to as a guest on Gilmore Guys), they talk about The West Wing, episode by episode. It's interesting to hear about the show from a fan and star of the show perspective, and they get some pretty stellar guests (Richard Schiff, Janel Maloney, Dule Hill). One gripe I have is that Josh Malina is not at all an expert on The West Wing, despite being on the show for four seasons. I do occasionally yell at the podcast when he gets something wrong, or something I've know about forever blows his mind.

What I'm Reading
I finally got back into reading! However, I'm in between books at the moment, but have a few on my to-read list, and need to renew my library card post-haste (apparently in DC they expire after three years?!? Stupid). Any recommendations to add to the list?

What I'm doing this weekend
Well, it's Monday. Can I say I haven't given it a ton of thought? Though, some friends and I are going to a food truck festival of sorts (it has more specifics than that, but I do, in a deep corner of my mind, try to restrain from too many identifying details about my life and wherabouts because you know #crazypeople #stalkers). Other than that, probably passporting.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer TV, How I Love Thee

I posted to the Twitters recently that summer travels make it really hard to keep up with all the TV I want to watch in the summer (first world problems, amiright?!). Then I got a request to write a blog post about summer TV, so here we are.

Now, summer TV to me means both shows that are only on in the summer, as well as a time when I catch up on shows from the regular season that I missed. Below are the highlights:

Summer Season Shows

Royal Pains: This is the show that's currently on TV that I've been watching the longest. I started watching it in 2009 (its first season) when I would go to the gym Saturday mornings and it would be on TV. It's hard to believe that was seven years ago, but this show kept me coming back each summer (and occasionally in the winter when they'd have a 5-episode winter season). The premise, a doctor from Brooklyn opens a concierge medical business in the Hamptons, expanded as the series went on and more characters joined the show over the past seven years, but it was always entertaining and I actually cared about the people on the show. The series finale airs this Wednesday, and I'm a little bummed to see all my Hamptons friends go.

Playing House: A discovery to me last year, this show became one of my favorites immediately. A 30 minute comedy about two best friends, one who's divorced with a baby, and the other is a successful businesswoman who moves back to their small hometown to help raise the baby. This is one of the smartest, funniest comedies on TV right now, so catch up on seasons 1 and 2 post-haste (I watched these seasons over Labor Day weekend, so you can knock them out quickly). Season 3 was not a given, I actually wrote to USA network about the need to renew the show (which I don't think I've ever done?), so when it was announced in January, I was THRILLED. The release date hasn't been announced, but you can bet I will be waiting with baited breath until then.

UnREAL: Another new discovery to me last year. A fictional behind the scenes look at a show like The Bachelor, created by a former producer for The Bachelor. I don't watch The Bachelor or it's spin-offs, but this show is addicting, partly because of how crazy things get, but also because, I don't really think it's that far from the truth. I sometimes even watch this show in REAL TIME. WITH COMMERCIALS. High praise.

Ballers: This is kind of the perfect summer show. Easy to watch and forgettable (I don't even remember the main character's name . . . ) The Rock plays a former pro-football player who now advises current players on financial matters. It's fascinating to see how people in the financial industry chase after these players, and how people who were just handed millions of dollars react to sudden wealth (spoiler: not well). The new season starts this month, I think, so catch up on the first season now.

Playing Catch-up:

Two shows I'm adding to my summer list now that their seasons are available in totality (I support binge-watching TV). I've watched a few episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and hear it only gets better, so I'm interested to see what happens with it. And, I haven't watched the new episodes of The Mindy Project from the spring, so I'll be catching back up with Dr. Lahiri and the gang.

Anything I need to add to my list?