Thursday, February 28, 2008

My weight training declaration

The other day, I made a deal with my sister that I would do at least two days a week of weight training. We agreed to treat this as sort of a contract, one sister's guarantee to the other that she would make the effort to lift weights at least twice (I think we are both ideally aiming for three times) a week. In order to take my commitment one step further, I wanted to declare here that I am officially beginning my weight training plan tomorrow, and that I will be designating Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays my weight training days. My goal will be to do some training on all three of those days, although I will be satisfied if I can manage two out of three. I consider my fitness level to be pretty good, but I also kind of feel like I am only as strong as my weakest link. In other words, I want to get to a point where I feel like my fitness level is more balanced--I may be able to do handstands, but I am embarrassed to admit that I can't do any push-ups.

I have chosen a total body strengthening plan from that will, hopefully, serve as a sort of introduction to weight training. It's not that I don't know how, it's just that I never do and, as a result, need to start slow. Eventually I'll be hitting the gym hard-core, super-setting and doing pyramid sets and drinking protein shakes...or not. But hopefully I will come away from all of this with a stronger commitment to strengthening my body, some well-defined muscles, and stronger and faster legs that can shred those hills and get me through many a marathon!

Additionally, in an effort to truly motivate myself, I want to conduct a sort of experiment, so tomorrow, I will begin tracking my efforts and improvements by publishing my measurements and pictures for all the world to see. Who knows, maybe I can inspire someone to do the same? Weight training is extremely important, and it would be great to help someone realize what sort of benefits it can have.

And on that note, à demain and stay tuned :)

Pancake/sausage on a stick showdown!

Which is worse-- sausage wrapped in blueberry pancake on a stick, or this:

Vote now!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WTF for a rainy day

This WTF is a bit different from the norm, and wasn't sent to me as a WTF as such, but I had to share it anyway.

This image was sent by Sean, who writes:

Do you find this as gross as I do?"

I do, indeed. I hope to never be served one of those, and not just because I don't eat meat.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Beware: Funny is NSFW

This is hilarious. Watch for not one but two cameo appearances by my friend Huey Lewis around minutes four and five.

And the one that started it all, less funny because I can't stand Sarah Silverman, but a good laugh nonetheless. And Matt Damon. Who can say no to that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

100 miles stronger!

According to Nike, I am officially 100 miles stronger today than I was when I first started logging my runs with them! They have even given me a nifty certificate and told me to brag to my friends. I do what Nike says, so here you go:


Thursday, February 14, 2008

WTF: Valentine's Day Edition

I thought it would be fitting to post today about relationships of different sorts. Coincidentally, my perspective on the relationships I want to focus on here falls into the WTF category, which I guess is sort of convenient.

Here is the first thing I want to share:

I can't say that I personally feel that my relationship was strained due to my vegetarianism, but then again, I might not be the right person to ask.

The second thing I want to share is that a certain love-hate relationship that I have been involved in has been giving me welts. Who is this abusive lover? you ask. None other than my Nike+ ipod armband. For some crazy reason I thought, when buying it, that an armband designed by a sportswear company who had also designed it to be used specifically would be a quality product. I was attracted to the fact that it had been designed with the runner in mind, that it was sleek and lightweight, and that it even had a reflective pattern on it. I wear it frequently, since I run frequently and like to get information on my runs through the nike+ sport kit even when I am not listening to my ipod. I like the information into the Nike+ website. I love the little chip and its little receiver and the fact that I can get such accurate details about my runs. What I don't love, it turns out, is this armband, which I hugely regret buying. The reflective pattern doesn't actually reflect, but that is the least of my concerns. What bothers me more is the fact that every time I run with my ipod in the armband, the area that holds my ipod gets covered in condensation. It's pretty disconcerting to look down at your beloved ipod midway through your run only to find that it is chilling in a sauna. It is also upsetting to remove the ipod from the armband after the run and find that it is covered in moisture, and I mean really covered. So, if my ipod shorts out because I have been using a product sold at Apple's stores and designed to be worn while I run, will Apple or Nike replace it for me free of charge? I'm sort of guessing that the answer to that one is no. The armband thus boasts a major design flaw: it is made of a synthetic material blend--theoretically great for moisture-wicking; however, it is pressed up against the user's arm for the duration of a workout, which means there is nowhere for the moisture to wick to. Without ventilation, moisture isn't going anywhere but to the beautiful reflective metal backing of my precious baby ipod. Why not just reinforce the backing of the armband with something that would act as a waterproof shield between the body and the ipod? Oh, well, because that would mean that you are getting what you paid for and you are a satisfied consumer, and Nike clearly wants you to feel ripped off and cheated.

Perhaps the most personally painful part of this whole ordeal is that when I run at the gym, and I don't have my armband on over several layers of long-sleeved apparel, the strap repeatedly rubs my upper arm as well as the area below my armpit on my torso and actually gives me welts. The elastic closure straps of the armband may be sleek and lightweight, but their edges are stiff and just cut into the skin repeatedly, creating significant pain that I don't think a thick layer of Body Glide could soothe or prevent. At this moment in time, I have a semi-permanent (it has been there for weeks and doesn't seem to be going anywhere) mark from one of these welts, as well as two new ones that I got from trying to adjust the armband in the hopes that if it sat a bit higher or a bit lower then the chafing would be eliminated. No such luck. Armband: 3; Emilie: 0.

And thus ends my tale of woe. I feel stuck in this abusive relationship because I don't really have another $20-$30 to spend on a new armband that will do what it should without ripping me to shreds. This whole thing has made me realize that Nike doesn't care about me, they care about making a sale. I was naive to think otherwise. And now I just have a bitter taste in my mouth: the bitter taste of capitalism.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I just felt the urgent need to state how much I loathe Valentine's Day. I always find myself extraordinarily down during the week of Valentine's Day, and being constantly and relentlessly bombarded with adds for gifts, and ways to make your sweetie's day extra special, doesn't help at all.

Can I crawl under a rock somewhere and just wait for the week to go by without me? I am sort of over the feeling of being alone while the advertising world around me makes me feel like everyone except me is in a happy, loving, fulfilling relationship. So if you know of any rocks that are currently uninhabited and are large enough to cover me, please let me know.

Thanks in advance.

What a weekend!

Well, I don't know about you, but I had quite the weekend. Actually, I sort of didn't, but I will pretend I did anyway. I had a good friend come visit which was really nice because I have been a bit lonely lately. It was great to spend some time with someone who is close to me, and it was also nice to have someone around to take pictures of my latest accomplishment in yoga: the headstand/handstand. I have been working on getting into a handstand for a while, and I have finally gotten to a point where I can do it. Makes me wonder how I was ever able to when I was a child because man! it is hard!! Here is the photographic evidence of my progress:

Now that I think about it, I am not entirely sure I was able to do this as a child. At any rate, I'll admit that I am supported by the wall behind me, and in order to get into the position, I have walked my legs up another wall, but I think you will find that this is perfectly valid preparation for the full pose (which I am determined to get into eventually). So ignore my bare tummy and be happy for me!

This yogic triumph was followed by a second accomplishment on Sunday morning, when I ran the Bronx half-marathon in under two hours! For reference, it used to take my two hours (rarely less) to run 12 miles, so I am pretty excited to have run 13.1 miles in 1:58:28. Getting to the Bronx was an obnoxious, frustrating experience, and I almost didn't make it in time to start the race. Thanks, MTA, for your massively informative signage at the 110th St. A and B train stop, and for your efficiently-running trains. Generally I am a big supporter of you guys but you are pretty much on my shit list from now on because you really, really suck. I kind of wonder if you would be able to get away with such unreliable and shoddy service if you were serving an area other than upper Manhattan and the Bronx. I highly doubt that a population with more economic and social clout would have to put up with the same bull-shit. But I digress, and more importantly, I should thank Mike, who kept his calm and was reassuring and tolerant in the face my near-breakdown, and who never lost faith in the fact that we would, in fact, make it the race, and that we would do so on time. He then waited in the cold for two hours while I ran, and was supportive the entire time (although I cannot say for sure whether he was secretly cursing me in his mind. I am not too good at mind reading). So, Mike, thank you for being there for me, and for putting up with me in spite of how difficult I made it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WTF Wednesday!

Another day, another WTF. I like this feature! Today's WTF comes from Mama Sue, former member of the Mamas and the Papas and also featured prominently as a dancer in Grease and a crowd scene in Hair. She's pretty famous. Here's what she has to share:

I love to work out. Not only does it make you more physically fit, it is also a great time to think things through, sort out your day (whether you work out first thing in the a.m. or last thing in the p.m.), plan what you want to say to so-and-so about such-and-such, etc. And when your iPod loses its charge like mine does (I have one of those little mini ones that's the size of a stick of gum), then you are really stuck and really have to go through a ton of stuff in your head. Today was one of those mornings and I started thinking about something that happened in the cardio room last week. Now it's winter so it's cold outside. But today is one of those funky weather mornings that we get here in the Washington, DC, area - it was 56 degrees at 5:00 a.m. The forecast is calling for a 70-degree day today with severe thunderstorms later. But this day last week was more normal - it was below freezing at 5:00 a.m. Bitterly, brutally cold (or as I frequently say, "cold as a b----!"). Often I stay in bed on really cold mornings or if there is any ice coming down out of the sky. Well, I had been working out for a while and was coming to the end of my workout so had worked up a pretty good sweat. All of a sudden I became aware of a cold blast of air permeating the room. Looking over in the direction of the cold air, I saw that the side door had been propped open, not a little crack but a rather big opening. Next to this open door was a woman I recognized as someone who works out there sporadically over the years. She will come to work out for a few weeks, then stop and not come again for a year. She's been doing this for years. Maybe she works out somewhere else during the time she's not at my Y. Plus, she's probably about my age but maybe a few years younger - so I'm guessing she's about 50-52 years of age. I thought to myself, "WTF, I don't remember her making an announcement about opening the door, like 'anyone object if I open the door?'" Then I noticed that the handful of men that had been in that room had made a bee-line for the exit. Not enough adipose tissue, I guess. All the women kept working away, and her neighbor even chatted happily with her in that freezing blast of air! What d'ya think? Maybe she needs to try soy milk - it really worked for me!! (Hot flashes, ya know?)

Unfortunately, it seems pretty common that people behave as though no one else exists when they are at the gym. Between grunting, moaning, letting a weight stack crash, wearing strong perfume, or no deodorant (the list could go on and on), the gym really does seem like a place where people put their egos on display. In fact, this behavior is not limited to the gym! I witness all sorts of wild behavior when I am running in Central Park. The one thing I have noticed most recently is spitting and burping. I understand that as you run, your saliva tends to accumulate (gross but true) and your insides get sort of shaken around. This is inevitably going to result in a need to spit or expel some of the air that seems to be building up inside. But please, don't spit directly into the path of someone behind you or coming toward you. And for the love of all things good, please STOP BURPING as though there is no one around to hear you and you're alone in your living room at home drinking beer and seeing how loud you can burp or fart just for the hell of it. It is extremely disgusting.

Lack of common courtesy comes in all forms, but as Mama Sue points out, one of the most frustrating times to have to deal with it is while working out. This should be a time to relax, clear your mind, think about your day, etc. and not a time to have to tolerate other people's annoying or disgusting habits!

Monday, February 4, 2008

WTF: Monday edition

This morning's WTF moment comes to us from R. Kelly. That's right, R. Kelly! No, not the child-molesting, talentless, trapped in the closet R. Kelly, I would never post any trash of his here. This R. Kelly is far more talented, respectable, attractive, intelligent, and inspiring, not to mention a great mother and all-around great person. Here's what she has to share with us:

First: yesterday and today I have had a hate-on for stupid people in cars. (Well, actually, the hate-on goes much farther back than the past two days, but I had the same basic experience both days so it’s worse now.) Yesterday I went out grocery shopping, realizing much too late that it was Superbowl Sunday and thus the grocery store was mobbed. I went straight for the farthest area of the parking lot and it was stop-and-go the whole way, and when I finally reached an aisle I thought might give me some luck, someone was pulling out of a space and I couldn’t turn into the aisle without hitting them. So, naturally, I had to stop. One would think that, because EVERYONE had been stopping all along the way, this would be no big deal but apparently when *I* stop I’m committing some huge felony because the guy behind me decided to honk and wave indignantly at me for not turning down the aisle and, you know, demolishing my car by smashing it into the guy pulling out. Yep.

So no big deal though… I’m a kind-hearted soul and I put the whole thing behind me. Truly, I did. Until this morning, when I was driving to work, and trying to merge from a right-turn feeder lane into the main traffic. There was a guy in front of me doing the same, and a woman behind me also doing same. Somehow you could tell the woman behind me was impatient – it was like her *car* looked impatient somehow. So traffic is not slowing, and I’m feeling very sorry for the guy in front of me, who is inching along and running out of space. I had the distinct feeling the woman behind me was going to merge and cut us both off as soon as space was available, so I pulled out as soon as I could too, and then slowed to let the guy in front of me in. Cue the rampant honking and, yes, indignant hand-waving from Bitchy McDriver behind me. And you know, this one was my fault. I totally forgot that it was much, much more important that SHE get to go to work without having to slow down at all, or else she’ll, you know, DIE. I could have been responsible for her death, and all because I had to stop and do a good deed and let a guy into traffic. What the hell is my problem, anyway. I’m some kind of sicko.

The more time I spend *not* driving in New York, the less I miss it. And this is a perfect example of why I don't miss it. There is something about putting people in their own little metal, glass, and rubber bubbles that turns them into raving lunatics whereas outside of their bubbles, they may be perfectly nice, normal people. Thanks for sharing your moment, R. Kelly. I think we can all relate to this one!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Knitting for charity

In the hopes of pulling in a few extra dollars here and there for Team in Training, I have decided to start making little cozies, sachets, and various quick projects with my talent (?) for knitting. Here is the first product up for sale, my very first cell-phone cozy made of a variegated pink wool yarn.

Please forgive my freakish looking thumbs. The cozy is not 100% complete yet, I still have to attach a velcro closure (so that I don't have to hold it closed) and a decorative button on the front flap.

Any takers?

Saturday, February 2, 2008


In the spirit of blowing off steam (it is a leitmotif today), I thought I would add a new feature to my blog called 'WTF'. I will take submissions from others and will also share my own WTF moments in an effort to give people an outlet where they can express frustration with something that has happened, something that warrants a WTF?! because it is so stupid, inexplicable, anger-provoking, or just plain bizarre. After expressing this frustration, you can let it go and move on with your day.

I'll start.

I just went for a 15-mile run through Central Park wearing my new fuel belt (purchased because my camelbak and I have officially broken up. The magic just wasn't there anymore) and was running along 110th toward Amsterdam. I passed two guys, one of whom took it upon himself to point out to me as I ran by that I was wearing a belt with flasks of water attached to it. "You got something on your back, girl. Looks like a damn utility belt," he said. He then cracked up. Because nothing is more hilarious than pointing out the obvious. And boy, the awesome powers of observation in this one. He is one keen observer if ever there was one. If I'd had a cookie, I would have given him one, just because he really deserved an award for that remarkable statement and use of deductive skills. I mean, just awe-inspiring, really. Seriously, though, and by that I mean all rampant sarcasm aside, I'm running 15 miles. I need somewhere to put water. And last time I checked, I wasn't going out running in order to impress anyone. So what the f*ck is the deal with this jackass actually taking time out of the conversation he was having with his friend to make some comment that is deliberately intended to make me feel bad about myself?! I mean, it didn't work, I don't feel bad about myself and if anything I just feel like he made it obvious that he is an asshole, but really.


See, though? Now I feel better, and I can let this go. To share your own experience, email me with your story.

Blowing off steam

Here's a confession: I feel like I am having a much harder time training for marathon #2 than I was training for marathon #1. I sort of expected the situation to be the reverse. It makes more sense to me that the first marathon, for which I trained alone, would be harder than the second, for which I am training with a team.

I find myself frustrated on a number of levels: for one thing, I feel like the team is not the social outlet I was hoping it would be. I kind of feel like I missed some bonding activity that everyone else participated in, and as a result I feel a little socially intimidated whenever I participate in group runs, or any sort of team-related event such as a race, for instance. For another thing, I have been having a really hard time feeling good about the running I am doing. Lately I have been really over-tired, and feeling really run-down. I have fifteen miles to run today and absolutely no enthusiasm for it. This isn't helped by the fact that I have come to loathe my camelbak. Putting it on feels like attaching a tumor to my body, and running with it is just plain uncomfortable. I feel like an idiot wearing it, and as minor and silly as that may sound, I don't really want to go out running looking like an idiot.

I don't know what's going on, I have just been feeling so off and drained lately. Today, to be honest, I just don't feel like going out with a tumor on my lower back, an ipod cord bouncing around and headphones constantly falling out of my ears, and an armband that makes me work twice as hard to even get any information into or out of said ipod.

Does anyone else ever get to feeling this way about something they love? If so, what do you do about it?

Friday, February 1, 2008

One often hears the old adage (actually I don't know that it qualifies as an adage, but I will use the word anyway) that states that men and women cannot be friends without sex getting in the way. Whether you agree with this statement or not is beside the point here; my guess is that you have most likely heard it. What about women being friends with women, though? Is that possible? With our two most noted (and most historically different) democratic presidential candidates getting fervent daily attention, I have found myself wondering more and more frequently whether or not Clinton will get any support from her fellow females. Will she be a rallying point for women everywhere who are undoubtedly keen to support someone of their gender, or will she instead suffer as a result of this shared trait?

That is not to say that just because a woman is a woman that she should vote for Hilary Clinton. My question here is really whether a woman who would vote for a male candidate with views and opinions absolutely, 100% identical to Clinton's would vote for Hilary Clinton, or whether this same voter would be deterred on the basis of Clinton's gender.

So far, it seems like the primaries are unable to answer this question. In certain states, the majority of the female vote has gone to Clinton while in others, it hasn't. There doesn't seem to be any clear pattern of support or rejection. And yet on a daily basis on my college campus, I see posters for rallies where women are to "raise [their] voice for Obama". Fliers encouraging young women to do the same for Clinton are conspicuously absent.

Growing up I always noticed that women are capable of creating strong bonds with each other, but they are also just as capable of severing those bonds in nasty, vicious ways. I strongly value the stable friendships that I am fortunate to have with other women, but I have also had my fair share of catty rejection and seemingly inexplicable refusal. To a certain degree, it seems that women cannot support each other--perhaps something gets in the way? I do not know what the explanation is for the bizarre relationships that tend to develop between women. Are they inevitably affected by jealousy, envy, a secret desire that your close friend will, at some point, falter or fail? At that point, we women willingly take up the role of support, cheerleader, whatever it is our friend needs; however, we do not all respond the same way to a friend's success. I want to stress again that this is not true of all women; perhaps this is what makes it more surprising that this tendency would exist at all.

So I continue to wonder: will Clinton end up being the ugly duckling because there is something at stake if she succeeds? Will a possible female inclination toward jealousy directed at other women who are perceived to be more successful prevent my sex from voting for the candidate they really support? I guess time will tell.