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June 7, 2013 / fionarwbl

Five Things Friday: Google Offices, Gorgeous Necklaces, and Summer Eats


1. Bauble Bar Necklaces cheer up any outfits. I can’t decide between the coral flowers or the blue neon geometry.

2. The nerd in me loves these math-print TOMs

3. If you haven’t had the Coconut Water Fruit Floes from Trader Joes you haven’t tasted summer. Bonus: they have real pieces of coconut in them.

4. This summer salad of Asparagus, White Beans, and Goats cheese is going to be a Sunday night go-to for me.

5. This New Yorker article about the Google offices in New York actually put me off working there. Meetings on a five-person bicycle? No thanks.

June 6, 2013 / fionarwbl

Recovering Hard and Building a Base

Ten days ago I ran the Vermont City Marathon. While my legs feel okay when I run, I know that I’m not truly recovered. I need to take a time out from training, from both a mind and body perspective. I admit that for the last 10 days, it has definitely been mostly a laying around on the beach / grass / couch sort of break, but I’m now considering moving around a little more, maybe breaking a sweat.

My next marathon is on October 6th. I like a shorter training cycle (12 weeks), so that means that marathon training will start at the start of July. The next few weeks will be about having fun and building a base. I did some googling around on what a base training actually means, and got some ideas that I could work with without becoming a slave to the training plan. Here are some thoughts on what I want the next month or so to look like:

  1. A whole lot more yoga. Pure, I miss you so much.
  2. Strength training. Refine, I’m looking at you. Especially now that there are outside classes!
  3. Spinning. I have semi-used class packs at both Flywheel and Revolve which I’d like to make a serious dent in.
  4. Running. Oh yeah, I haven’t forgotten about you.
  5. Recovering. AKA loosening up my angry, tight calves before they do a complete revolt on my and stop running altogether.

Here’s what I won’t have: a training plan or spreadsheet. Instead, I’ll be running based on my mood, but it would be good if my mood corresponded with including the sorts of runs below in any given week:

  • 2-3 30-55 minute easy runs
  • 1 speed workout
  • 1 tempo workout
  • 1 longish run (90-120 mins)

The other thing I’d like to experiment with during my base building is running doubles. Aside from Ragnar races, I’ve never run twice in a day, but I’d like to see whether it agrees with me. I definitely like the idea, because sometimes I’ll have pretty easy, calm days at work, and others, well, it’s crazy-town from start to finish. Getting in doubles might be a decent way to get in my mileage and not be beholden to the corporate gods.

Do you run twice in a day? What do you do in between training cycles? Run less? Party more?

June 5, 2013 / fionarwbl

Running Skirts for the Mini 10k

I admit that I am a late adopter when it comes to running skirts. For at least the first two years of running, I shunned and scored them. I thought that real runners didn’t wear skirts. But, like most things that I passionately hate, I had a complete 180 on them, and now love the opportunity to get some breezy skirt action. Other things I’ve changed my mind on, by the way, include avocado, eggs, and e-readers. But not Coldplay and spinach (still passionately dislike).

There’s just something about a skirt that feels slightly rebellious and transgressive: breaking a randomly defined run boundary set arbitrarily in place. It’s amazing to think that 30 years ago women were not allowed to run long distances and had to register as men, and today women make up over 50% of race registrants. In the advent of Lean In and Not Having It All, this has definitely been a year when talking about what it is to be a working woman today, and the Mini 10k reminds me of how far we’ve come in such a short time. That, for me, will always make it an emotional race, and for some reason, I’ll always wear a skirt to underscore my lady running self. In case you want to join in, here’s some of my favorites, and a couple I’d definitely wear.




1. Moving Comfort Women’s Sprint Tech Skort – love the colors. Last year I got the Moving Comfort Momentum shorts and I love them; I would love to get this skort as well. Particularly digging the contrast shorts underneath!

2. Lululemon Pacesetter Skirt – the Pacesetter skirt was the first running skirt that I ever bought. The pleats add a nice breezy kick to your run. Love.

3. City Sports Running Skirt – I saw this skirt at the Vermont City Expo (while it was 40 and raining) and still thought that it looked awesome. The laser cut detailing makes it a little different from your regular skirt

4. Nike Rival Running Skirt – my current favorite! I wore this at Big Sur and it was super comfortable, and had a decently sized pocket for stashing my phone and some gels. Oh, and again with the rockin’ contrast shorts.

5. Brooks Infiniti Skirt – Brooks make some of my favorite gear, and this skirt is cut but a little refined. A gateway skirt, if you like 🙂

How do you feel about running skirts? Love, or absolutely loathe? Are you running the Mini 10k this weekend?

June 3, 2013 / fionarwbl

The Best Thing About A Recovery is Planning a Comeback

First up, I am pretty much completely reconciled with my Vermont marathon time. There are so many good things to take away from that race that I cannot honestly keep being upset about it.

  1. The course was fun, fast, and filled with people
  2. For the most part, I ran well, and was pleased with my body
  3. #sub4ordie is in the bag

So, what’s next? Because, you know, that’s what you do when faced with a long stretch of nothing.

Even though marathons are cruel, brutal beasts, it seems that I can’t quite quit them yet. I’d actually signed up for #5 even before completing Vermont. I’ll be toeing the line at the Wineglass Marathon on October 6th, along with lots of my running besties.

In the immediate future, I’ll be running the NYRR Oakley Mini 10k on Saturday. I have a love-hate relationship with this race: love the energy, the crowd, the start along Central Park West, the community of lady runners. And then about 1.5 miles in I hate-hate-hate the race itself, usually because it is so disgustingly humid. Maybe this year will be different – ha!

I then have nothing in the schedule until the Rock N Rock Philly Half Marathon in September, and either the Army 10-Miler or the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco on October 20th.


There are a couple of things missing:

1. Short races. Some 5ks would be fun. I’d like to try and do a couple of the Prospect Park or Riverside Park 5k series if work allows this year.

2. Another relay. Team Call Me Ishmael are in talks to get back together for a reunion. Now we just have to find a suitable time and location.

3. Anything in July or August. Yes, I know, they are race hell in terms of weather. But I wanna pin a bib on, ok?


Do you feel a need to fill an empty calendar with race registrations? Any suggestions for races in July or August?

May 31, 2013 / fionarwbl

Five Things Friday: Cute Tops and Summer Desserts Edition


1. Nike Pink Cut Out Tank – sale at $28! // 2. Gin-Gin Candies available on Amazon // 3. Clinique Chubby Stick Intense – $16 each// 4. Strawberry Shortcake recipe //5. Feedly RSS feed reader

May 28, 2013 / fionarwbl

A Bittersweet PR: Vermont City Marathon Race Recap

This is a tough race recap to write. On paper, a 16 minute PR is amazing. A feat to be proud of. And believe me, I’m trying. I broke the magic sub 4:00 barrier, and for the most part, felt good doing it.

However, there is no overcoming the overwhelming frustration that I feel right now. There is no doubt that there was a faster finish time in my mind and my body. A few small decisions had significant impacts on my race day time, and of course, I’ll do the necessary things and learn from them, but between now and my next marathon, there will always be a sense of “could have, should have”.

The Vermont City Marathon will also, hopefully, be the wettest marathon I ever run. From the moment we left NYC until about 2hrs into the race, it did not stop raining. Yay summer? I drove up with Steph and Shaya on Friday night, and we got as far as somewheresville just past Albany before finding a random “don’t kill me please” motel to call it a night.

Saturday morning was yet more rain, and the expo had a decidedly damp feeling with people stocking up on emergency hats and waterproof jackets. I got a hat, but decided to stick with my tank top and shorts combination as I hate wet sleeves and figured I’d be working hard enough to stay warm. This, it turned out to be mostly true actually, even if I was the only person in a tank top and shorts I saw the entire race. We also saw Laura at the pacers table who gave us lots of advice and made plans to meet up for dinner later. Dinner was amazing – huge helpings of pasta and delicious sauce. There was even an option for $3.75 cocktails which none of us went for. Next time!

At this point I should let you know – there are not many pictures in this post, because frankly, rain is not so picturesque. Bad blogger.

We got an early night and fairly decent sleep before a 6am wake up call. The race started at 8:03, and we were just a 10 minute drive from the starting line. How awesome are smaller races? We drove over and huddled in the car watching people who were far better prepared for the elements than us head over to the starting line. We had debated picking up gallon trash bags the night before. This was a mistake. We should have. Instead, we had sheer, flimsy, lightweight trashbags that were not exactly weatherproof.

Standing in line for the portapotties we all had serious doubts about even starting. To be honest, I was very, very concerned about hyporthermia or getting sick. However, I knew that I couldn’t go home after not even having run. Having gotten to the start, but not actually started? Not happening. A DNF I could take, a DNS from so close? Not so much.

Having said that, the portapotty line was taking forever, despite the rain, and we hadn’t really left enough time to go, so we ended up sort of missing the actual start and jumping into the race sort of at the back. This was actually a good way to have a slow first mile, and it wasn’t so crowded that I was ducking a weaving the whole time.

I wanted to settle into an 8:45 pace. For the first time since the DC Half in March, I was wearing a watch. I was impressed I could remember how to use it! The first couple of miles are downhill, so I knew I had to hold back and relax on these miles, rather than pay for it later. I briefly ran into Stephanie and exchanged hellos before continuing locked into my pace.

Very early on, I realized, well, I needed the bathroom. I decided that I could try and go early, which would probably be easier than making the time up in the race later, so at the first portapotties at around mile 5 I stopped. And lost 3 minutes, without getting much, er, relief. Eh. Sucks. I picked up the pace and ran past Steph and Shaya again. It took me until mile 8 or 9 to catch up to the 4:00 pace group again, who I wanted to keep well behind me at all times.


I was trying to make up a little time, but not get ahead of myself and end up with dead legs in the second half, so my pace hovered around the 8:20s to 8:30s. I was so nervous about my legs running away with me, as they have a habit of doing, and then leaving me nothing for miles 21-26.2, but at the same time, I was frustrated about losing time. Mile 8 was the first of the two hills on the course, and having run down it, it was straightforward enough up – nothing overwhelming, and only 100ft over half a mile. We also got a sweet downhill about a mile later.

I don’t really remember much until mile 13.1, which was a big relay exchange, and was the only time I felt cold. Oh, and I nearly cried. I still needed the bathroom too. We were running along Lake Champlain, and the wind was bitter, the waves were sloshing over the trail, my time was drifting away, I was cold, and I had no idea where I was. I was very, very unhappy. This lasted for about half a mile, and is one of my slowest miles of the day (9:07). I don’t know what cheered me up – maybe leaving the lake shore – but I got over my “I want to die” and kept one foot in front of the other.

The other “big hill’” in the race is at mile 15, and is a short, steep, bandaid of a hill -steep, intense, but over in a couple of minutes. My type of hill, thankyouverymuch. It didn’t kick my ass too bad, and right at the top running through yet another relay exchange I saw my Ragnar team-mate Kim waving for me. She had just finished her relay running, lucky her. Still, getting over that hill was hugely psychological – there were no more hills to deal with. By the way, this is totally true. There are lots of races where people say there are no more hills after a certain big hill e.g., the Queensboro Bridge in NYC, but it turns out there are about 5 more, maybe not as big, but still, you know, hills. Not in this marathon. It was literally downhill from that point onwards.


My marathon brain gets a little fuzzy from this point. I did finally breakdown and use the bathroom at mile 18, because, well, I just had to. Another 3 minutes lost. There was some more pretty running on paved trails (lots of this race is on paved trails which is so nice, and I imagine even nicer on a sunny day!). My energy started to flag at mile 21, and then started the painful countdown of miles and multiple bargaining with myself just. keep. running. I had some watermelon at some point. I nearly cried again. Every mile seemed to take about 34 minutes to run, but actually they were more like 8:50s. By mile 25 I was seriously, miserably, ready to be done, and recorded my slowest running mile (9:25). Mile 26 I perked it up to a 9:15, bouyed by the realization that this torture would be over soon. Mile 0.2 was a long circuitous journey through an incredibly long chute, up some mud, and over the finish line. 3:54. Not the 3:50 I had wanted. Not the 3:48 my auto-stopped Garmin had recorded. I was soaking wet, freezing, and upset.

Honestly, I should be pleased. My legs played along the whole race. The times that they were running were amazing – they actually ran to their potential. And I actually got a sense of potential – I could do this better; I could run this faster; this is going ok; I’m having fun! So many emotions from such a self-imposed torture.

I’m sure I’ll have more eloquent thoughts later in the week, but right now I’m just glad I don’t have to run anymore. Everything hurts.

May 24, 2013 / fionarwbl

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Race Recap Part II: Nighthawks

For me, the night running aspect of relays are what make them so special in the first place. When else do you get the change to run under the stars? Relay night runs are a perfect combination of solitude, exhilaration  and community. There is nothing like running toward a blinking red light, and looking back and seeing a couple of lights bobbing along behind you, and know that you are surrounded by other people who thought that this was a good idea.

Kim took off at dusk, and we picked up Elena and attempted to warm her up. Mostly she was mad we met firefighters while she was running over a bridge. Who can blame her? We tried to appease her with some amazing homemade healthful granola snacks, but she wasn’t having any of it.

Side note: our van was split into people who thought that eating nutella, gummy bears, dunkin donuts, and iced coffee was a perfectly reasonable way to fuel, and those who seems to subsist mostly on nuts and seeds. You can guess on which side I ended up. However, we all agreed that a giant jar of pickles was awesome.


Who doesn't carry around giant jars of pickles?

Who doesn’t carry around giant jars of pickles?

Kim handed off to Shaya, who thought her ankle would be able to make it through another 8. So far, so good. Shaya handed off to Steph, who was dressed amazingly in eye-searingly bright neons that I cannot believe I do not have evidence of. However, the photo below I believe is pretty close. Steph ran her legs faster than we thought, and after spending 25 mins waiting at her mid-exchange, we decided to be smart and ask if our runner had come through. Of course she had. #teamfail We drove rather rapidly to her next exchange and bundled Katie out the door to be ready for her coming through.


I was up next, and it was about 12.30am. The stars were out, the roads were quiet, and my legs were feeling surprisingly ok, all things considered. I picked out a This American Life to listen to to have Ira Glass comfort me in case I got the night heebie jeebies, and off I went!


Can you tell what it is yet?

Can you tell what it is yet?

That was basically my thought the entire time. After my first 7 miles, my legs agreed too, and totally sped up “for fun” AKA “let’s pretend we don’t have another 10 miles to run after this. So much fun. Basically, the perfect run.

I was vaguely aware that my van hadn’t passed me while I was running, so when I charged into the exchange all hopped up on adrenaline and 8 min/miles, I was not surprised that the van wasn’t there. It was a small exchange as well, and aside from the guys hanging around the exchange, it was pretty quiet. 2am will do that to you. The people at the exchange were lovely and chatty, taking the edge of any anger I felt about being abandoned in the middle of the night.

After about 15 minutes, our van rolled in. Apparently there had been some missed turns and some lost runners. However, walking into the van was like walking into a wall of doom. Apparently, while I was out getting all runner’s high, spirits had sunk within the van due to a couple of things:

  1. Another potential runner down – Katie’s knee was starting to feel angry at the high mileage, and Shaya’s ankle had not enjoyed the 8m run. We were starting to have to do some complicated math to see how we got through the rest of the miles with less and less runners.
  2. We had made some critical errors in judgment around the placement of our driver’s legs, and both were desperate for sleep.

I cannot claim that I was a good captain at this point and rallied spirits. Instead, I grabbed something to eat, drank some nuun, and put a blanket over my head to get some sleep. No, I am not proud of this.

Kim was running Steph were sleeping, and the van wasn’t moving. Stephanie was promising to rally in 5 mins to get us moving. Somehow, the van switched on and we were moving. Shaya was driving and Elena was map-reading! Somewhere back in the fuzzy recesses of my brain, I remember thinking “her ankle is sore and her map-reading is questionable” (her words, not mine!!), but whatever, we’ll go with it. #GOTEAM

Next up: 4 runners, and 60 miles to go. Are we having fun?