the wonderful world of veena.

31 January 2012

10k tuesday: taking a bit of a philosophical turn.

Yesterday, I ran 3.8 miles. 3.8. That is far and away the longest I've ever run in one stretch in my entire life. And it was pretty painful. Partly because it's the longest I've ever run, but partly also because I hadn't run since my 3.5 miler last Monday. I realize now that that was probably not the best decision I've ever made, but I made it through. The other factor was the weather. While it's been pretty cool the last few weeks, yesterday it was a sunny 65 when I went for my run, and the heat zapped whatever extra energy I might have had. I know that while I need to keep extending my distance, it is equally important to do a shorter run in between to keep building my endurance. So before I hit 4.2 miles over the weekend, I need to do a 20-30 minute run Friday morning. This week should provide me at least two more opportunities to run, including the weekend, so that I hopefully won't feel so sluggish when the time comes for me to extend my distance a little bit more.

The philosophical angle comes from a guy I "met" while running yesterday. He was probably in his mid- to late-30s and had come to walk when I was just about to reach my halfway goal and was seriously wondering what the hell I was thinking trying to run 3.8 miles. As I passed him, he wished me a good afternoon and said he wished he could run but that his legs couldn't take the pressure. I greeted him and went past, continuing on my run, while he completed one lap at a leisurely stroll and then left the park. Now, I don't know how much he had walked before he came to the park, nor do I know how much he walked after he left, but I doubt it was very much.

So I spent the second half of my run philosophizing about how lucky I am that my body allows me to run. I'm not a great runner, my pace isn't fast, and god only knows what I look like out there, but at least I can do it. I know I can run at least 3.8 miles, and I'm only getting stronger with each run. I realized how much I take for granted my body's ability to do things and that I need to take more advantage of the physical things I can do.

I think all sorts of crazy thoughts to help me get through my runs, but this was a bit of a new turn for me. Let's see how long my newfound vigor lasts.

And fingers crossed that by the time of my update next week, I will have crossed the 4-mile mark.

29 January 2012

looking ahead into february.

Since I am once again awake at an ungodly hour to watch Rafa, I thought I could go ahead and share my goals/resolutions for February. They're going to be interesting, since one is the reduction of a major habit, and the other is [hopefully] the beginning of a new one.

no facebook. That's right, I said none. From midnight February 1st to 11.59pm February 29th, I will not be logging in to my Facebook account. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and while it would probably make more sense to boycott Facebook during finals or some such event, I decided to go ahead and do it in February. And this leads into my second resolution for the month...

write one email every day to a friend. Partly because of the ease of Facebook, and partly because I'm a bit lazy, I have become really bad at writing personal emails to friends to catch up. So this month, instead of reading people's updates online and posting my own, I am going to reach out via email to restart a more personalized conversation. [and yes, I realize that phone calls and handwritten letters are even more personalized, but here's the thing: I don't like speaking on the phone, and stamps are expensive, so this is really my best option. baby steps]

and an ongoing one for the semester:

continue to read for fun for 20 minutes each night. I've been keeping up with this so far, but it's only been a few weeks. My goal is to stick with this for the duration of the semester, partly because I enjoy reading, partly because it's a good way to get my mind off of school, and partly because I sleep much better when I've calmed my mind down a bit before bed. I currently have about 100 pages left in The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay [Siddharth Dhanwant Shangvhi] and then am hoping to move on to the first book of the Hunger Games series [Suzanne Collins].

Bring it on, February. I'm ready.

28 January 2012

1 out of 2 ain't bad.

At the beginning of the month, I set two goals for myself: to visit the LEGO exhibit at the Clinton Library and to book tickets somewhere - anywhere - for Spring Break.

Well, I'm batting .500.

I haven't made it to the LEGO exhibit yet, but that's because Dylan was out of town, and we decided to make it a family outing. We've postponed it for a week, so I should still be able to make it over there before it closes on the 12th of February. I'm not sweating it. Yet.

And as for Spring Break. I'M BOOKED! Through sheer luck and awesomeness, the Mann siblings actually want me to come visit. I am flying into London and spending a few days with Ellie-Bear before taking the train over to Paris to spend a few days with Mr Rob while Ms Ellie "studies" for an exam. And then it's back to London for a few more days of fun before heading back State-side. I. can't. wait. This trip excites me for many reasons:

  • I love the Mann siblings.
  • I heart London. a lot.
  • I've never been to Paris.
  • I needed something kind of crazy and spontaneous. and out of town. [remember those itchy feet I'm always going on about?]
  • my cousin, who lives in Italy, is possibly going to be in Paris at the same time.
  • lots of cool people live in London, and I very much enjoy hanging out with them.
  • it's roughly halfway between now and my return to Bangalore. makes the time go by so much faster.
So all in all, I'd say I did fairly well with my January resolutions. I have some bigger ones in store for February, which I will update you on in a few days.

Happy weekend!

25 January 2012

veena's attempts at eating better.

Notice I didn't necessarily say healthy, because let's face it, I really like my chocolate and my ice cream every now and then. I have, however, been attempting to eat better than I had been in recent months. With the onset of the holidays and finals, my diet went for a toss, and I'm attempting to get it back on track.

I'm incorporating more fruit and veggies into my diet, carrying carrots to class with me rather than cookies. I'm trying to have salad a few days a week, and I'm also hoping to take advantage of evenings when I'm home relatively early to actually make something fresh as opposed to just heating up something out of a box. Obviously there will be days of Lean Cuisines and the like for dinner, but there was one point last semester where I was essentially living off of them, and that wasn't good. Additionally, I've mostly cut out bread and sandwiches, mostly because I think I had too many of them last semester and burned myself out.

One of the main reasons I didn't stick to a good diet last semester was that I rarely went to the grocery store. I really liked being able to go once and stock up for about 3 weeks, which was also why most of my food came from out of a box. I know that eating better will require more frequent trips to the grocery store, and that's just something I'm going to have to build into my schedule as time allows.

I'm not doing this because I necessarily want to lose a whole lot of weight; I'm doing it because I realized how out of hand my diet got towards December and Christmas last year, and I want to get out of that habit of snacking on junk food at odd hours of the day and night.

In addition, I have cut out alcohol and soda from my diet. I wanted to do that leading up to my 10k in March anyway, so it seemed like perfect timing. I don't tend to drink a ton of soda, but - again - because of finals, I was drinking entirely too much Dr Pepper. That's been a fine transition, since my body isn't used to too much of either anyway.

The main thing I've noticed so far is that I get hungry more often, but that is partly due to the fact that my runs have been getting longer recently, and I sometimes forget that I need to increase my calories on those days. I've also gotten back into the habit of having a banana a day and drinking a glass of milk in the night [my mother would be so proud]. And while I get hungry more often, my appetite is also less when I do eat. Which means that instead of having 3 big meals a day, I tend to have something like 5 small ones throughout the day, which [I've heard] is healthier for you anyway.

So far I don't have any amazing insight into how this has changed my life, but it's only been about a week. Give me some time, and I'll keep you posted.

Also, I'm on the lookout for some good, easy grilled and baked chicken recipes. Things that aren't too work-intensive. If you know of anything, send it my way!

Happy eating.

23 January 2012

10k tuesday: holy 3.5 miles, batman.

So I clearly didn't get around to running 4 miles over the break. Instead, I finally realized last week that my race is in less than 2 months, and I need to get myself in gear. I've been staying on top of my running, and I finally hit 3.5 miles today. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy, but I did it. I've been going back and forth between how much I need to increase my time / distances from here on out, and I still haven't come up with anything conclusive. If you have any suggestions, be sure to let me know.

I also made a very big decision last week in regards to my running: NO MORE 6AM RUNS. That's right, no more getting up at ridiculous hours of the morning and running when it's cold and dark. That's not for me, and I finally realized what a toll it was taking on me. And besides, being in bed by 10pm is just not feasible for a graduate student. So instead, I am sleeping until 7 and then running as and when I get time during the week. Some weeks I might be able to run 3 times, others maybe only once, but I prioritize getting back on a proper sleep schedule more than being able to run a super fast 10k. Call me crazy.

Last week I got in a good 20-minute run between Program Evaluation and work, and today I did my 3.5 miler between Professionalism and work. On the days we don't have noon programs, I usually have time before work to get in some sort of run, and then I have at least one day over the weekend to have a nice long one. And you know what? That's good enough for me.

Until next time.

20 January 2012

and spring semester has begun.

Apologies for the radio silence of late. A new semester began on Tuesday, and it has been mostly nonstop since then.

Tuesday is Practicum day, so after class from 9-10.30, we headed down to Monticello for interviews and got back home only around 7. Wednesday I had class from 9-12, came home and went for a run, and then had the girls from 2.30 until about 6.30. From there I had a call with my contact at Room to Read and then headed over to celebrate Jordan's birthday with some pizza and a viewing of the season finale of Homeland. No better way to start watching a show than by beginning with its last episode. Then Thursday I had class from 9-1 and again from 1.30-4.30 and then went to the temple, which is over in North Little Rock. From there we had a family dinner, and then it was back home to get a start on all of this reading.

Luckily I don't have class on Friday, so I managed to sleep in this morning and get in a good run before settling down to some more work. It's going to be a pretty crazy semester, particularly through Spring Break, so I'm going to have to be good about setting my schedules and sticking with them. So far I have also been able to be in bed early to read for fun for about 20 minutes before going to sleep, which I've been grateful for. As the semester gets more busy, and as the public programs start up again, we'll see how long I am able to keep up with that, but to make it a week is a pretty good sign.

I have also switched up my running routine a bit, which I will discuss next week during one of my fabulous 10k tuesday posts. [no, I haven't forgotten about them. I'm just not sure about weekly posts on the subject any longer. we'll see how things go]

So here's to a fun-filled semester where I don't lose all my marbles.

16 January 2012

celebrating catherine.

To celebrate Catherine and Drew's upcoming wedding, we headed down to Miami for a girls' weekend. To recap:

[yummy daiquiri]
After a late lunch on the roadside, we got ourselves dolled up at headed to a salon called Blo. Apparently it's a big thing in Miami to get your hair blown out before hitting the town, so off we went to partake in champagne and chocolates and crazy hairstyles.

[catherine gettin' her hurr did]
Following our primping, we had cocktails and appetizers at Liz and Chris' apartment.

[yummy spread]
[the girls]
[me, catherine, walker, and liz o]
[brooke, julie, and liz j]
On Saturday we set out for a fantastic late brunch and a nice stroll on the beach.

We took a break in the afternoon before having a "classy" lingerie shower followed by a fantastic street-side dinner and a visit to the club "Love/Hate", where Sunday night is "Early Hip-Hop Night".

Once we decided we were probably not "old school" enough for the music, we ended the night at the Playwright Irish Pub, where we spent a few enjoyable hours regaling the non-Rhodents with tales of our collegiate escapades.

All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend.

11 January 2012

the books, #21-25.

I realize it's been a few months since I last updated my book list, but things have been a bit hectic. So, without further ado:

21. The Millennium Trilogy [Stieg Larsson]. You know which ones I'm talking about, the Dragon Tattoo, Played With Fire, Hornet's Nest books. Admittedly, I haven't read the third one yet, but that's because it doesn't release in paperback here for another month. I'm kicking myself for not having bought them in Bangalore - they've been out in paperback for nearly 2 years over there. I read the first one a few years ago, and while I liked it, I did find the beginning a bit slow-going as it introduced all the characters. The second one went much faster for me, as much of that background was out of the way. I'm intrigued to see what the third one has in store. And then after I've read the third book, I'm watching the Swedish versions of all 3 on Netflix - I've heard they're awesome.

22. The Memory Keeper's Daughter [Kim Edwards]. If you read this and didn't cry at least once, I'm pretty sure you're dead inside. And that's coming from someone who's not particularly a crier. It's both a heartbreaking and a hopeful story, and one that you won't forget all too soon. And it will make you thankful for the people you have in your life.

23. The Outsiders [SE Hinton]. An old classic that I've read and re-read numerous times over the years; between my brother and me our copy is pretty tattered these days. There's never a dull moment reading about the adventures of Pony Boy and the gang, and it's a jarring look at class differences in America. [although I normally despise books that are made into movies, I love the movie adaptation of this one. how can you not, with that lineup?]

24. A Fine Balance [Rohinton Mistry]. This isn't one that I necessarily enjoyed [you really can't, given the content of the book], but it is one that I found very interesting and difficult to put down. It's terribly sad and depressing, but it's also very eye-opening. It's a behemoth of a book, and it runs the full gamut of emotions, but I think it's definitely worth reading. I also loved the quote that Mistry used in the preface: "Holding this book in your hand, sinking back in your soft armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will not amuse me. And after you have read this story of great misfortunes you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy. But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true."

25. Water for Elephants [Sara Gruen]. The book that made me want to join the circus. Not because it's necessarily a glamorous life, but because it sounds like one hell of an adventure. I always like books that are told through flashbacks and memories, and this one did not disappoint. It's a quick, interesting read that made the rounds of my TEFL group during our one-month stint in Kolkata. I'd love to re-read it but have no idea who has my copy. And if I keep re-reading, the only thing that happens is that my stack of yet-to-be-read books continues to grow. I haven't seen the movie version of this one, and I haven't quite decided if I'm going to. Anyone have any comments on it?

So there you go, 5 more books for you.
Next on my to-read list:
The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay [Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi]
The Hunger Games [Suzanne Collins]

Any suggestions for what I need to be reading?

06 January 2012

woo pig.

It's Cotton Bowl time, so to get us all in the mood to cheer those Hogs on to victory, I leave you with the Arkansas fight song. Can't wait to sing it all day/night long.

Hit that line! Hit that line! 
Keep on going!
Take that ball right 
down the field!
Give a cheer. Rah! Rah!
Never fear. Rah! Rah!
Arkansas will never yield!
On your toes, Razorbacks,
to the finish,
Carry on with all your might!
For it’s A-A-A-R-K-A-N-S-A-S
for Arkansas!
Fight! Fight! Fi-i-i-ight!


04 January 2012

january: looking forward.

As I mentioned in my first post of the year, instead of resolutions that I have to keep up with for the entire year, at the beginning of each month I am going to make a list of a few resolutions/projects/things I hope to accomplish. I am pretty good at sticking to things for a month, and it also means that I will end up [hopefully] being much more productive month-by-month.

So here are the things that I want to accomplish in January:

visit the LEGO exhibit at the Presidential Center. the exhibit has been up since September, and I've just not had a chance to get over there and see it. since I'll be back in Little Rock a week before school starts, I'm hoping to spend some time strolling through all the exhibits down at the Presidential Center, but I particularly want to see that life-size Razorback up close and in person.

figure out my plans for spring break. originally I thought about just chilling out in Little Rock and/or Memphis, until I realized that that was a crazy idea. now I'm drowning in ideas and need to just pick one and stick with it. so far I'm toying with Boston/Philly; London/Paris/south Italy [those depend on the availability of any or both of the Mann siblings]; San Francisco; New York; somewhere completely crazy like Spain or Greece; or a completely random road trip to wherever I end up. any thoughts or suggestions?

I realize this is less like a list of resolutions and more just my to-do list for the month, but I'm hoping that documenting it on here might hold me to it. Daily/weekly/monthly resolutions will come later once I've thought this through a bit more.

Any ideas for things I should attempt?
woo pig.

03 January 2012

10k tuesday: round and round and round we go.

I realize it's been a while since one of my 10k tuesday posts, and that is mostly because I have a tendency to lose track of what day it is when I am on holiday. That has been further perpetuated by the fact that my parents had two long weekends in a row for Christmas and New Year, and I had my wisdom teeth removed last Friday. I finally glanced at my watch today and saw that it said Tuesday. yikes.

I've been doing much better with my running since the semester helps that I can get up at 10 [or 11, on occasion] and still be able to go for a run. My motivation for those 6am runs fell by the wayside a long time ago. I have been helped considerably by being in Memphis for a few weeks and having had the opportunity to run a few different routes near my parents' house. I'm going to have to find new places to run once I'm back in the Rock.

In good news, my new running shoes are working out well, and having varied music for my runs has been good. I am unfortunately not going to be into a regular schedule until probably the end of the month, so I honestly have no idea how the next few weeks are going to go.

So far, so good. Hopefully I didn't just jinx myself.
woo pig.

01 January 2012

out with the old, in with the new.

Happy 2012!

To celebrate the new year, I spent the evening of the 31st on my couch, watching bowl games and Hindi movies and a Big Bang Theory marathon. [sidenote: I got my wisdom teeth pulled on the 30th, so I wasn't up for doing too much]

I am not a big one for resolutions, as I tend to get distracted and forget about them. Additionally, what I find to be most pressing in January tends to not seem so important once May or June rolls around. So this year, I thought I would try something a bit different. Instead of resolutions to last the whole year through, at the beginning of each month I will come up with some sort of resolution or project for that month, and see if I can see it through. That way it will be something that is pertinent to my life for that month, and only doing it for a month ensures I might actually keep up with it.

There are a few overarching things that I have on my list, but they are ones that are always in the back of my mind: to travel to new places [Miami and Nepal are already confirmed; hopefully I can add Leh and/or Manali to the list over the summer]; to go to a Packers game [Super Bowl? I think yes]; to read more; to hand-write more cards and letters; to be better about keeping in touch with people; to be better about exercising; etc etc. But I never make resolutions about these things, because I know they will ebb and flow as the year passes by.

2011 was a great year, but I am always excited to see what a new year will bring. New adventures, new friends, new trials and new triumphs, and lots of new memories.

So here's to a fabulous year ahead. Cheers.
woo pig.