Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Ok, once again, sorry for being out of the loop.

Some recent news:

1- I got an offer to tutor kids after school part-time. Yay! Still looking for more work, but at least this is a start. First training session begins October 10.

2- Sent an email to a principal in the area offering to volunteer at her elementary school. I figure it's a good way to get exposure, help out, etc.

3- Also sent volunteer requests to Shoes and Clothes for Kids as well as Team in Training (alumni)...should be great!

4- Been baking/cooking even more now that mom got me that Martha Stewart cupcake book...good thing I'm marathon training!

5- Signed up for yelp and have been writing lots of reviews. I'm trying to figure out how to link them directly here, but until I do, you can click on the right-hand side of the page on that little yelp map and you can read the reviews. I've done mostly Cleveland places, but I did touch a bit on NY pizza places and one place in Madison so far.

I also started reading New York Magazine's "The Cut" Blogs again, now that Gossip Girl, as well as the Hills and the City, are back in full force. You may keel over laughing if you read this article about last night's Gossip Girl!

What else?

Not much.

Training this week is as follows:

Mon 9/28 - 4 miles, Towpath Trail @ Canal & Rockside
Tues 9/29 - pilates
Wed 9/30 - 6 miles, Steelyard Path
Thurs 10/1 - 6 miles, TBD
Fri 10/2 - Off
Sat 10/3 - 20 miles!!!!!!!!!!!! Last one!!!!!!!!!
Sat 10/4 - Off or an "easy 3" (By the way, love those T-shirts that say "On the seventh day, God did an easy 3.")

And then, thankfully, the taper begins. I felt so strong today though, and I am ready to conquer 20 once again. And then 26.2 in exactly 4 weeks from Sunday!!!

Also, next weekend (Oct. 11) I've decided to run the Towpath Half Marathon with Claire. Good times!

Kristin came to visit last weekend, which was wonderful, and we went apple picking at Heavenly Hill Farm in North Royalton. Here are some of our photos:

On a final note: made some buttermilk biscuits with this recipe by the Food Network's Tyler thing: there MUST have been a mistake on the recipe because it calls for a full tablespoon of salt. Blecch! I am annoyed that these were pretty much ruined...but still fun to make. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Super Sunday

I did my 20-miler today! And lived to blog about it!!!

I went to Rocky River, where it was bound to be (mostly) shaded, and it was. In fact, the high today only got to the mid-70s (although it felt a lot warmer while running in the sun)--a welcome respite from the 80-plus-degree long runs of August.

Annoying setback: there was a street closing on McKinley on the way to Riverside, so I couldn't enter at Hogsback Lane like I normally do. Got directions from a cop (why does even a harmless conversation like this still get me nervous around cops?), and of course got lost for a while, until I found my way back to Detroit Road and Claire told me where to enter the park. So I started at mile 1 (or, I guess, mile "0"), at the Scenic park picnic area, which actually proved to be easier to keep track of my mileage (instead of always subtracting two miles like I have to when I start at Hogsback). And lord knows, when you've run 10+ miles, doing math is not something anyone wants to do.

Started off strong, I think partially because I took an extra rest day yesterday AND because I have recently discovered a good pre-run meal: Cream Farina with raisins (I know, you people probably think I'm gross). For some reason, I had this all the time as a kid. As an adult, I more often have oatmeal, but Farina is yummy and doesn't have as much fiber, so it's not going to mess with the digestive system. Anyway, I thought I would try this out today, because I had it this past week and it worked extremely well for a six-mile tempo run on Wednesday.

Also, new to the mix this week: GU Chomps, which I picked up at Second Sole on Friday along with a lot of other gels and stuff. I have tried Clif Shot Blocks (Blox? Bloks?) before too, and although I liked the taste and the gummy quality, I thought they were a bit too big (I have this inordinate fear of choking; more on that another time) and too sticky. I had heard that the GU Chomps are smaller, and the package is also a little bit easier to manage (the plastic is softer and you can just slide the Chomps out the top, then fold it over and stick back in your shorts or whatever). Plus, they have vitamins C&E and amino acids in addition to electrolytes, whereas Clif Blox only have electrolytes (according to the sales guy at Second Sole).

Let me tell you, these Chomps were the bomb! Not only were they tasty, but they gave me a jolt that the gels simply do not. I didn't have coffee before this run--I am starting to not drink coffee before a long run as it tends to make me have to use the bathroom too much--but these bites gave me the little "kick" of caffeine I needed during the run. There are 8 to a pack, which says is supposed to last 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. Probably right. I used them in 2-chomp increments, about every half hour. Hehe, 2-chomp increments...that sounded funny.

I also used GU (Vanilla bean, which I am OFFICIALLY stopping the use of because it is just gross) and Just Plain (my first time using this flavor - I liked it and it didn't give me a bad taste in my mouth and/or stomach problems like Vanilla Bean). I am a bit tiffed that Second Sole doesn't have my PowerBar Gel--my go-to gel. Oh well. I am liking Clif Shots more and more; they are a bit more substantial than GU and taste better too.

The first half of my run was strong and steady--I would even say that I ran faster than usual in this part. I finally made it to mile 10 (my turnaround) near the Nature Center. Yay! Then things were good for about a mile or two, and then, predictably, got much worse before they could get sun, stomach issues, not knowing whether to eat more gel or whether the gel was the problem, etc. At least my hydration was awesome today; I decided to forgo the oppressive backpack for this run and instead simply carried a 16-ounce Dasani bottle (good size to hold; 20 oz would have definitely felt cumbersome), which I refiled a few times at the water fountains.

Mentally, I realized the end was "near" at 14 miles...tried to remember that I am regularly running six miles during the week and attempted convincing myself that it was just the same! (Uh...except for having run 14 miles already!) Started the mental "countdown" with about 5.5 miles to go...just kept looking for those half-mile markers. Hills were brutal, but relied on my strength and resolve to get through it...finally inching my way towards the end...when I reached 18 miles I knew I wouldn't have to walk in order to finish, although when I finally DID finish, I was literally hobbling to the car. Had to walk it off QUITE a bit, in addition to drinking gatorade/water/eating PB&J from my car stash before I could think about driving home.

But I did it! Time was 4:06 (approximate, wasn't wearing the garmin), which was great, because usually I'll average 5 miles an hour for the first 2 hours, then...slow....waaay....dowwwwwnnnn. (Ha ha, that reminds me of Office Space, when the hypnotist says, "Way...way down...."

Now, why can't I stop stuffing my face...? :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Greetings from the land of Unemployment.

I have been getting SO FRUSTRATED lately about the lack of response to jobs that I KNOW I am qualified for...even too qualified...but what really kills me is the growing number of scams that are just insulting and make me question even searching for a job online.

I realize there are a number of scams out there, particularly in admin/office jobs on a certain oft-used site...if any of you are new to the job search like I am, this story might help you. (By the way, this story is just one of MANY weird scams I have become in contact with, but the only one that seemed valid at the time I applied.)

I recently applied to an ad that simply said "Secretary" (Cleveland) which did not seem phony at all in the original ad, mentioned hours, per-hour salary, and a little bit about the company. But then it got weirder.

I got an email shortly after I applied asking me to take a test to narrow down the selection process due to the large number of people who had applied. This didn't seem too weird. It asked different multiple-choice questions about my personality at the workplace. Then there was a second part which said was a test of following directions and recognizing layouts, browsers, and online advertising trends. Because the original ad said they were a web-based company, I believed them, even though I was wary about giving any personal info. I was instructed to "validate" three website forms, and then answer specific questions about the second page of each site (after I had given my email address). Naively, I did as instructed, but stopped when asked for anything more than my email address. I figured I didn't pass the test because I wasn't willing to give more info, and just clicked out of it.

The next day, I got an email which seemed like a real response from a woman at a certain company (I will not mention either name), with the subject line that matched my original email response to the ad exactly, saying that "from reviewing my resume, it is clear that I am qualified for the position and that I have been shortlisted for the position." She asked me to email more information about myself, including what time would be best for me to interview. She also said that I would be required to take a credit check, the results of which would not impact hire, but would validate my identity. She then provided a link to a free credit report site. (!!!)

Aside from never having to take a credit check for a job, I also realized that throughout this whole process, I had never sent them my resume. I also looked up the company, which didn't seem to actually exist, because the website domain from which the woman's email was sent just went to a site of other links. Plus there was no phone number at which I could reach her. I deleted the email.

I have since gotten FIVE EMAILS from five different parties (HR representatives, recruitment agencies, random individuals) asking me to take different kinds of "competency tests" to help them with the process due to "overwhelming response to the position ad"...all with the same subject line I had originally provided. Most of them included typing in your email address, home address, phone number, etc. This, I realize, is partially my fault for giving my email address, however, it's a catch-22: you have to "put yourself out there" to get something, while at the same time, you don't want to be too exposed to scams like these.

I already have sent my resume to multiple people; my information is just out there. Most online jobs I apply to then send me to a second-party job site, like "Direct Job Source" or "Employment Source" which then ask me to fill out my stuff again, and then bombard me with questions about whether or not I was interested in furthering my education at the moment. Once, before I knew better, I made the mistake of saying "maybe, if I had more information" and then was literally harassed for two weeks from a representative at a local community college, saying she was simply "responding to an inquiry" that I had made. She even sent me a card in the mail (she got my address from the job-search website). I was only able to get rid of her calls when I emailed her telling her I was not at all interested in the school. I felt like a bad person. But this is crazy!

PLEASE be careful when applying to any secretarial position.

On another note...I had a group interview/info session the other night for a tutoring position. It went was mostly a Q&A/fill out an application and leave your credentials with the director type of thing, but still, I felt ok about it. I sent the requisite "thank you email" to stand out a bit. So we'll see.

As for training this week, I feel that I have returned! Took Monday off from running, because I was super sore from the Half (and because a rest day was in my schedule - yay!) and went to Kripalu Yoga (a new one for me, very relaxing). Tuesday and Wednesday, took to the treadmill - not at a gym, but at a fitness center in the basement of one of my landlord's other buildings - free access! Watched the news one day, the VMA pre-show the next...gotta love distractions like that, plus NO HILLS on the treadmill! As my shins have been acting up, I thought I would "tread" on a softer surface for a couple of days. Did 6 miles both days, but for yesterday's speed workout, I made part of it a tempo run at half-marathon pace (which was a lot harder now that my half-marathon pace is 10:30ish!). Today is 5 miles, tomorrow's a rest day, and then first 20-miler!!!! It's supposed to be really nice and cool on Saturday, which is a big relief.

By the way, I ordered some Kinesio Tape yesterday for my shins...this seems like it's a big deal right now, used at the Olympics, and my sis-in-law, who is a Physical Therapist, says it's great for rehabilitation because it promotes blood flow around the injured area. Will report when I get it!

Tonight, dinner at Johnny Mango's in Ohio City with Claire! Will also report on that!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Strawberry Jam Teacakes w/ Citrus Glaze

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Let the River Run

Ok, so, remember all that complaining I was doing? It was stupid. Why? Because I just ran the best half-marathon ever! So, here's the race report for the Cleveland Clinic River Run...

Claire and I ran this one together, which was great, because even though we didn't really chat during the race, it was great to have someone there going through it with you. We are about the same pace, so there was no "pressure"...although we agreed that if one or the other needed to run ahead or fall back, it was o.k.

She picked me up at around 7, and we got to Wallace Lake in Berea by 7:15 or 7:20. This was a point-to-point course, so we both signed up for the shuttle that would take us from the finish (Memorial Field in Rocky River) back to the start where we parked. I was excited to run this race, because I had recently discovered (thanks to Claire) the Rocky River Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metroparks, which is spectacularly beautiful. Plus, I read online that it was a net downhill course, and that it was fast -- and I had never run a course like that for a half-marathon...or any race, for that matter, other than the Patrick Joyce 5k in August.

The start was "cute" this I mean that it was small, and they kind of rang a little bell when the race began. They did, however, have mats and the new "shoe tag" technology. Started off a little fast for my pace, but we were at the WAY back of the crowd and I would have felt a bit embarrassed going any slower. So I said to myself, "you held the pace for the 5k, and this isn't that fast, you've done tempo runs before, just do it, it'll be good practice." I was thinking for quite a while that the McMillan Calculator didn't quite work out with me...that I could hold an ok pace for a bit, but that once I got past the 5 mile mark, I just slowed and slowed. Therefore, 10ks, halfs, and the one marathon I did were MUCH slower than they should have been according to this calculator. So I said to myself, "you've been training really hard, and maybe you just haven't been trying as hard as you could during those longer races to maintain that 'comfortably hard' threshold pace in order to get the most of your training." And you know what? I DID keep the pace today, and it worked!

I'll break this race into thirds. The first third's splits were as follows:

Mile 1 - 10:08
Mile 2 - 10:16
Mile 3 - 10:05
Mile 4 - 11:13 (hmm, a bit slower)
Mile 5 - 9:49 (that's why!)

At this point, Claire and I had been running pretty much side by side. But then she had to use the bathroom, and ran up ahead to do that, and said she'd hopefully catch up with me. The next few miles are the "solo" ones:

Mile 6 - 10:35
Mile 7 - 10:57
Mile 8 - 10:48
Mile 9 - 10:15

It was around this mile when a huge-ass hill presented itself...I was prepared because Claire told me it was coming. Speaking of Claire, just as we were climbing the hill, she caught up to me. We supported each other throughout the last part, which is always kind of the hardest. (Actually, for me, the "Rodney Dangerfields of running" -- the middle miles -- are the worst.)

Mile 10 - 11:04 (by the way, cumulative time at this point was 1:45, the fastest ten miles I have ever run!)
Mile 11 - 10:18 (can't believe I am STILL under two hours! Wow!)
Mile 12 - 10:42 (OMG, cumulative time is 2:06, I can't believe it!)
Mile 13 - 10:12, and the last .1 - 52 seconds.

Finishing time: 2:17:12 -- a new PR by over ten minutes!! Wow!

So the moral of this story is...even when you feel disgusting and that nothing is working...TRUST YOUR TRAINING :)

Got water and a banana - was "proud" of myself for not partaking of the pizza and ice cream they had in abundance...I say that in quotes because to be honest, I thought I would be sick at the thought of it. :) But I really did feel great afterwards, not delirious like the last half in Madison, and I hardly even got that "brain drain"/gross fatigue that sets in during these races. I guess running 18 miles the previous weekend puts things a bit in perspective :)

Anyway, on to other things...tried two new recipes this weekend: Eggplant Parmesan last night, and Tea Cakes with Jam in Citrus Glaze (!) today. (My mom recently got me this book by Martha Stewart on the art of making cupcakes.) Speaking of which, I've got to go make and glaze my cakes. Pictures to follow. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Banana Nut Muffins!

And here they are...


Ok, just so that nobody thinks I'm dead, I thought I should update the blog a minute. Ok, done.

Just kidding...sort of.

The truth? I have been super unmotivated and kind of down lately. Still can't find a job. Been applying everywhere under the sun and I am so frustrated. But I don't really feel like elaborating at the moment.

Also, the training has been fine - did my 18-miler last weekend and this weekend plan to do the Cleveland Clinic River Run with Claire. But I am feeling really tired, with leaden legs (and now my left leg is actually bothering me quite a bit and I haven't been able to get a good run in since Saturday). Did some cross-training this week, but it isn't the same, and I just feel gross. Also, been trying to eat a bit better, which is working and is actually making me feel better with more energy (had been partaking in the pizzas, chips, and ice cream a bit too much, resulting in sugar highs...and lows...and grease-hangovers. Not good for running!). But, I don't know. I need to be lifted out of this funk.

I guess it doesn't help matters that today is the 8-year anniversary of the Twin Towers attacks. I just miss my city so much, and I want to be there with my family and friends. Cleveland is fine, actually better than fine, but I need my support network. I am so grateful for Derek, and for the few good friends we have here...but I miss everybody else. :(

Anyway, this made me feel a bit better. Also, Derek and I booked our flight for marathon weekend! We are getting in Friday night, October 30, and leaving at 4:15 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. Thinking about the marathon, and my opportunity to pay tribute to my city, makes me feel so strong and proud. So much so that I am (temporarily) willing to suck it up and cut back a bit on the mileage right now in order to not totally mess up my chances of running in November. I am annoyed that I haven't been able to get in my quality miles this week, but I have learned from experience that a couple of days of will not only aid healing, but it will also not derail all the good training I've put forth thus far. So, yeah. Good chat, self.

On another note, you (and I say "you" meaning..who? I think only my mom and maybe one other person ever reads this) might have noticed that I have been posting more pictures of food lately. I have really been cooking and baking up a storm. So I might just send MMS messages to the blog ('cause I have it synced up to the phone) of what I've been doing. For example, this morning, I baked some homemade banana nut muffins. Hmm, maybe I'll send a pic of those after I post this. Or wait - maybe I will send it now, so it will arrive on the blog first, thus, right after this paragraph...? Anyway. Take care for now. I will try to do the same.