the wonderful world of veena.

29 July 2013

1/2 marathon monday: don't run TO the finish line, run THROUGH it.

Every time I'm getting close to the end of one of my runs, I have Coach McMahan's voice in my head repeating that over and over. Don't run to the finish line, run through it. I heard him say it so many times for days and months on end to the girls at Baylor during practices [I was the trusty manager, so it was never said - or yelled - to me], and now it's getting me to make sure I go hard at the end of my runs. It's been 13 years since I graduated, and I can still hear his voice as if it were yesterday.

And now for the Week 3 updates:

Monday: 2 mile run. it was a beautiful morning full of dark clouds, and I took advantage of it and shaved another minute off my time from last week. my lower back was hurting a bit from my workout on Sunday, but it shouldn't slow me down too much.

Tuesday: 45-minute Get Toned Beginner Energizer workout. this was the first workout that didn't have any recovery time built into it, and I definitely could have used some. finally a day with no Russian Twists, but to compensate, there were 2 sets each of Crazy Ivans and side plank crunches, neither of which are pleasant. I can feel myself getting better at some of the exercises that show up regularly, but today this workout also introduced about 4 new exercises, so those took a bit of time to master.

Wednesday: 1 mile run. I got a little excited at the beginning and was winded by the time I reached the top of the incline, but the nice weather made me forget everything else.

Thursday: 45-minute Get Lean Beginner Cardio Surge workout. going from mountain climbers into a squat hold was not very fun, and I definitely could always do without the 2-feet-plank-side-hops, but otherwise it was alright. oh, and scissor jumps. those are super fun. I don't know if I can necessarily say I enjoyed this workout, but it certainly was not nearly as destructive as Tuesday's. so I guess that's progress.

Friday: well, I was supposed to do my first 3 mile run on Friday, but because I was in Little Rock for my Capstone defense and had stayed up the previous night with Maggie and Stephen, I didn't get up and run in the morning. and then we had so much going on at home when I got back to Memphis, I had to just burn one of my rest days on Friday and switch up my training.

Saturday: completed my 3 mile run. it was a wonderfully cool morning, and I really enjoyed my run. it was the farthest I've run since last October in Delhi, and I was pretty proud of myself when I finished. between defending my Capstone on Friday and running 3 miles on Saturday, I was kind of feeling like I could conquer the world.

Sunday: a second day of rest. and I definitely needed it.

3 weeks down, and I'm feeling pretty good with myself. let's see what week 4 has in store for us.

the joy project: week twenty-seven.

Capstone defense week!

Sunday: back to Memphis, where mum had made awesomely yummy chana bhathura. evening workout before dinner.

Monday: beautiful weather for an early morning run followed by late morning rain rain rain [those are things that make Veena very happy].

Tuesday: woke up to more morning rain. I could definitely get used to this.

Wednesday: spent most of the day on the couch listening to the rain [3rd day in a row!] and watching season 1 of Greek with the brother.

Thursday: made the drive to LR to get ready for my Capstone defense. helped Maggie make dinner and invented an Indianized pasta sauce in the process. cupcakes!

Friday: CAPSTONE DEFENSE. lunch at 42 with Alex Thomas. made one dish all on my own for dinner, with zero input or supervision from the mother. even my brother said it was good.

Saturday: lunch at Flavors followed by a lovely Saturday afternoon nap. introduced my aunt to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

and now that the Capstone defense is out of the way, apparently it is time to begin my "job search". yeah, right.

22 July 2013

1/2 marathon monday: minor improvements, but I'll take them.

Recap of Week 2:

Monday: 45-minute Get Lean Beginner Crunch + Burn on the NTC. some squats, a lot of variations of planking, some Russian twists and crazy Ivans [ab stuff with a medicine ball. ouch], and some ski jumps. there was only one exercise I had trouble with in terms of getting the form down; otherwise it was pretty ok.

Tuesday: 2mi run. I woke up about 15 minutes earlier than usual to try to beat the heat, and I'm glad that I did. even though it was still a bit muggy when I set out around 5.40, the sun wasn't in sight, so there was still a little bit of a breeze. other than the final incline on Bazemore around the 1.4mi mark, it was a pretty uneventful run. I'm definitely glad I got up earlier, and I think that will continue, at least through August.

Wednesday: Carmelita Jeter's 15-minute intensity workout. slightly easier than it was on Sunday, but those mountain-climbers-into-tuck-jumps still hurt.

Thursday: another 2mi run, completed 1 minute faster than on Tuesday. it's not much, but I'll take it.

Friday: 45-minute Get Toned Beginner Tighten Up. I am a big fan of any workout that does not involve planking. I also had an extra adrenaline rush because I knew the faster I completed my workout and got ready, the faster the brother and I could hit the road to Little Rock to hang out with our peeps.

Saturday: rest day! I went for a few leisurely swims at Maggie's house which were great for stretching out my muscles.

Sunday: 45-minute Get Strong Beginner Magnum workout. because the brother and I drove back from Little Rock Sunday morning, I did my workout around 6 in the evening, which was something new and different for me. the workout itself wasn't too bad, and I think I slept better having done the workout later in the day.

Overall, I can feel myself getting a bit stronger with each passing day. I still greatly dislike Russian Twists and especially Crazy Ivans, but my form is slowly improving. As is my running form. I notice that I'm having to correct my posture less and less when I run, which is something I'm just a little bit proud of.

I bought a new set of orthotic inserts for my shoes to add some extra arch support to my ridiculously flat feet, but I am yet to actually put them in my shoes. One step at a time...

Additional Notes, on eating and such:

I ate nicely over the first weekend, but I also controlled my portions, particularly when we went to Cheddar's on Friday night and with the Indian food on both Saturday and Sunday for lunch. And I was pretty diligent about logging my food as well, so that I could just generally keep track of what and how much I was eating. I'm not counting calories necessarily, but I do find it interesting to have a log of the things I eat on a regular basis.

This last weekend, however, I did not log my food. It wasn't really a conscious decision, it was more that Maggie and I picked up food on Friday night, and I didn't have access to wifi until we got home at something stupid like 2am. And then again on Saturday, things were hectic with preparing food and whatnot, and I didn't have the energy, so I decided that I was giving myself the weekend off.

Why do I run?

I realised I've not really written on here about why I run, only about my runs. The Oatmeal recently published a hilarious cartoon about why the illustrator runs, and it got me thinking about how I started running and why I keep running.

Growing up I always hated exercise. It's not necessarily that I was lazy, although that was part of it, but I didn't like going to the gym. Part of it was being self-conscious and not wanting to have to work out in front of other people, but part of it was also that I just didn't enjoy the exercises that we had to do, especially lifting weights. My lower body has always been stronger than my upper body, so I didn't like having to do bench presses and the like.

Because of this, I was never a regular exerciser as an adult. In college I played random intramural sports, which gave me just enough exercise to keep me happy. While I lived in India, I went for aerobics classes with Amai in the months leading up to her wedding, but I wasn't interested enough to keep up with it after the wedding. At one point I got into the habit of going for 30-40 minute walks every evening when I got home from work to unwind from the day and to have some time for myself.

When I moved to Little Rock in 2011 for grad school, I knew I needed to get myself into a regular exercise routine of some sort, but that hatred for the gym runs deep. When I heard about the Little Rock Marathon [and half, and 10k, and 5k] and found out that a number of my classmates were running various events, I decided that the 10k would be a good option for me. I knew that once I paid the registration fee, I would be hell-bent on getting my money's worth, aka finishing the race. So I registered for the race, I downloaded the Couch-to-5k app on my phone [I was starting from scratch], and I got to running.

And to my absolute surprise, I found that I enjoyed running. I would often get up and run around 6am, which was really nice when I didn't have a lot of schoolwork. When school got busy, I would take myself down to the river on the weekends and run there, enjoying the crisp, cool weather and the time to myself to be alone with my thoughts. And come March, I ran that 10k. I didn't run it fast, but I finished the race, which was my goal.

But then once I didn't have a race to train for, and with school getting busy and Catherine and Drew's wedding to get ready for, I didn't stick with it. I kept telling myself tomorrow I'll go for a run. tomorrow. tomorrowwwww.... And then I didn't. I kept putting it off. Every few weeks or so, I'd run for about 20-ish minutes, but my heart wasn't really in it. I wasn't enjoying it anymore, and there were too many other things going on, and the weather was warming up, and I always seemed to have some excuse or another as to why I didn't run on a given day.

And then I went back to India and didn't run. It's impossible to run on the roads in India, it was hot, and often Shonali and I would stay up watching episodes of New Girl until 2am, which means I wouldn't get up at 7 to run like I intended. When I was in Delhi for 2 weeks and Rob and I were staying together, we would get up and run at Lodi Garden in the mornings, but I got out of that habit, too. In Bombay I got swept up in the lifestyle and excused myself by saying that I walked to the railway station and back, so that was good enough. It wasn't.

So when I got back this spring, I was determined to get back into a routine with my running. The first month was pretty sporadic, since I was back-and-forth between Memphis and Little Rock, but since returning to Memphis I was pretty good about running 2 or 3 days a week. And then came the surprise email notifying me that I would be running in San Francisco, and the rest, as they say, is history. [kind of. it's only Week 2 of training]

So that's the history of how I started running. But why do I keep running. To put it simply, I actually enjoy it. Yes, it's often difficult, it's pretty slow, and it's never pretty, but I have such a feeling of accomplishment when I finish a run I set out to do, regardless of how long or short it is. And it's been a great stress reliever for me, particularly when I was in Little Rock and school got busy. It was a great way for me to get half an hour / an hour / however long to myself to sort out everything that was going on and to just think some things through. Since I've been back and living at home, it's been a nice way for me to get some solid alone time. And it's a reminder that once I set my mind to something, I can follow through on it.

I've now followed through on 2 weeks of training. Only 13 [I think?] more to go.

the joy project: week twenty-six.

Sunday: learned how to do mountain-climbers-into-squat-jumps [don't ask]. helped the mother make Sunday lunch. mummy oiled my hair. DDLJ on the television!

Monday: mailed some goodies to the Peanut and the Pumpkin.

Tuesday: got to chat with Bee for a solid 45 minutes and hear about her new job a bit.

Wednesday: long overdue Skype chat with Bear.

Thursday: survived outings to both the mall and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. that's a pretty big deal for me. lovely summer rain. Memphis Pizza Cafe and YoLo with Walker and Joe.

Friday: sibling road trip to Little Rock. introduced the brother to the Town Pump and then returned later with some of the Clinton School peeps.

Saturday: various errands with Maggie and Stephen. chocolate and banana smoothie from Tropical Smoothie. partook of many of the free samples at Kroger. papdi chat, samosa chat, and pani puri at the Indian grocery store. leisurely afternoon swim. Indian food fest with lots of helpers. midnight swim.

My final Capstone presentation is this Friday, so I am soliciting and welcoming any and all well wishes. I promise to reciprocate in full.

15 July 2013

1/2 marathon monday: week 1 in the books.

I realized during my run on Tuesday that it would probably be easier - at least for the first few weeks - to do a running diary type of thing to keep track of my workouts and runs and then to add a few overall thoughts at the end. We'll try it out for a few weeks and see how it goes. So buckle yourself in, we're off to recount Week 1 of training.

Tuesday: a short 1 mile run to ease into the running portion of the training. it was super muggy outside, but I slogged through and ran the fastest mile I've run in a while. I was definitely dripping by the end of it, though. depending on how Thursday's run goes, I'm going to consider getting up half an hour earlier for my runs, especially when they get longer in the coming weeks.

Wednesday: 45-minute NTC Get Strong Beginner Pump Station workout. mostly squats / lifting combinations with some plank walks thrown in for good measure. I still need to work on my techniques on a few of them, particularly the plank rows. generally I'm not good at planking, so that's something I want to focus on improving for Week 2.

Thursday: another muggy run, this time for 1.5mi. my quads weren't too happy with me at the beginning, since my run begins with an incline, but we made it through in one piece. I have a feeling it's going to be muggy for at least another month or so, so next week I'm going to try to get up 15-20 minutes earlier to beat the heat a bit. we'll see how that goes.

Friday: 45-minute NTC Get Toned Beginner Shape + Sculpt workout. the good news: no planks! the bad news: lots of abs. again, something I need to work on, but not something I enjoy doing. and lots of squats, which burned, but which I made it through. the thing I have to keep reminding myself during these workouts is that it's a marathon [well, I guess technically it's half of one...], not a sprint. sure, those squats are nothing at the beginning of the workout, but there's still 37 minutes and 3 more sets of those to come, so I have to remember to save my strength so I can make it through the whole workout. this workout was also the first one where I had to use the medicine ball, which was something new and different.

Saturday: oh glory be, a day of rest!

Sunday: Carmelita Jeter's 15-minute intensity workout. 3 sets each of step jumps, squats with a kettle ball, squats with a medicine ball, mountain-climbers-into-tuck-jumps [ouch], and weird backward diagonal squats with weights. my quads - which felt fine after Saturday's rest day - were screaming and threatening to collapse out from under me. ok, that might be a tad bit dramatic, but it was a pretty intense 15 minutes.

Overall, it was a pretty good week. The runs were short and easy, but the workouts were a bit difficult, mostly because I was unfamiliar with a lot of the exercises. I'm hoping that with practice and increased endurance, I'll get better at them over time.

On a separate but related note:

A few weeks ago, I ordered a Jawbone UP band, and I began wearing it the Sunday night before I began my training. I had a few reasons for biting the bullet and ordering it:
  • I've been wanting for a while to have a band that tracked my steps and general activity.
  • The UP band also allows me to log my food, which I'm hoping will not just cut back on my intake but also help me get into a routine again with my eating.
  • You can set the band to let you know when you've been idle for a certain amount of time [I currently have mine set to vibrate if I've been sitting still for 1 hour between 9am and 7pm, but I can change it whenever I want].
  • It also logs your sleep, which I thought was a pretty cool feature.
It's definitely an investment - a cool $129.99 from Amazon or a number of in-store retailers such as Best Buy or the Apple store, to name a few - but I think it will pay itself off.

Logging my food has already made me more vigilant about what I'm eating; knowing I have to log it has kept me from scarfing down the loose Starbursts that are hanging out on our coffee table, and instead of reaching for cookies or candy when I want an afternoon snack, I'm going for the baby carrots or a peach instead. I'll still eat those other things - I am me, after all - but I'm looking more for portion control and moderation right now. Coming back from India always throws me, because I want all of my favourite Memphis foods right away, none of which are healthy. And being out of town 4 weekends in a row didn't help me much, but I am slowly trying to get myself back into a healthier routine. One week is always too soon to tell, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

As for my steps, my current goal is 6,000 steps per day, although I would love to average somewhere in the 7-7,500 range. On days when I run, I surpass my goal by the time I get back home, but on days where I have workouts, it takes me longer, since it obviously doesn't count things like squats and crunches and planking and the like. Since my brother and I are both sitting at home joblessly for the time being - and since he also ordered an UP band - we keep searching for errands to run and reasons to get out of the house so we can meet our steps goal. And if we've been idle for a while in the late afternoon, right when that urge to take a nap starts to set in, we'll start walking laps around the ground floor of the house. It's pretty funny to watch, actually. My father will sit with an amused look on his face and watch us go in circles. But it gets the job done. Some days I get in far more steps than on others, but as long as I'm being active, I'll take that as a good thing.

So here I am at the end of Week 1, still in one piece and still convinced I'm going to be ready to run this race come October 20. Bring it on, Week 2.

14 July 2013

the joy project: week twenty-five.

Sunday: looooong drive back to Memphis, but I got a Jack in the Box Ultimate Cheeseburger and seasoned curly fries out of it, so I'm not complaining overly much.

Monday: made tilapia for dinner for the brother, the father, and myself. my father - who is difficult to please when it comes to these things - said, and I quote, "Veen, whenever you make fish again, make some for me." so I guess it was a hit.

Tuesday: Barnes & Noble and Babies 'R Us runs so I can start spoiling Amai and Kishore's latest creation [and continue spoiling the first one]. a whole day in which I did not have to re-watch Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani [it's a good movie, but twice on Monday was enough for my week].

Wednesday: spent a lazy day at home watching re-runs of Law & Order: SVU and Castle. brother got me a Clay Matthews bobblehead doll!

Thursday: lunch at Humdinger's and a visit to the cinema to see World War Z [better than either of us expected]. got a Thank You card from Cait and Wes in the mail! [I very much enjoy receiving things in the mail]

Friday: new pictures of the Pumpkin and the Peanut [Evika and Nilah, for those not in the know] from the Boss! sorted out the gifts for the girls that need to be sent next week. family dinner at Cheddar's.

Saturday: lunch with the parents at Flavours. took my father on a jaunt to the Nike outlet store. Baskin Robbins!

Capstone defense is in less than 2 weeks! guess I should actually start working on that presentation...

11 July 2013

movie review: world war z.

The brother and I have been saying for a few weeks now that we should go see one of these recent releases on the big screen, so today we took ourselves for an afternoon viewing of World War Z.

I remember when the book by Max Brooks [son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, in case you didn't know] was published a few years ago, but I really didn't give it much thought. Zombie books have never really been high on my list of potential reads, and I had - and still have - enough other books I wanted to read that I wasn't overly bothered.

But then I saw that the movie was being released, and I was intrigued. The previews looked alright, and different enough from previous end-of-the-world summer blockbusters that I had refused to see. Then I read a recent article about Brad Pitt in Vanity Fair that touched briefly on some of the production setbacks - primarily of the budget variety - that the movie had experienced, and my interest was aroused once again.

One of the main things I liked going into the movie was that, other than Brad, the movie didn't have any major stars. I tend to avoid the summer blockbusters with a truckload of famous people but no real plotlines. Other than that, however, I was pretty much in the dark as to what the movie was about and had zero expectations as to how it would be.

And I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised.

The movie was gripping throughout, the action scenes were pretty good, and even though it was 2 hours long, it never dragged or felt ridiculously long. Both the brother and I walked out having thoroughly enjoyed it. It seemed at the time that the end wrapped up rather quickly, but I think it would have felt like that regardless of the length of the movie. Overall it is definitely a movie I would recommend seeing at the cinema while it's still playing.

Besides, it's a movie about Brad Pitt saving the world. Doesn't get much better than that.

08 July 2013

1/2 marathon monday: and here we go.

Today marked the first workout to train for my race in October, and I only have one thing to say: I much prefer straight up running.

The workouts are through the Nike Training Club app, and today's was the 45-minute Get Lean Beginner Hurricane workout. It's a combination of stretches and lunges and planks and skipping rope and a few other things, and it was tough. There were definitely a few moments where I had to stop to catch my breath, but I somehow made it through. I know I have to do these workouts to get into better shape for my race, and I'll do them, but they're going to really test me. Which I know is the point, but still. I can run for 45 minutes, but this was something else entirely.

At this point I don't have a whole lot to say since I'm only one day into my training. The rest of the week consists of a 1 mile run tomorrow, a different 45-minute workout Wednesday, a 1.5 or 2 mile run on Thursday [I'm still getting mixed signals from the app as to how far it wants me to run], another 45-minute workout Friday, rest on Saturday, and a 15-minute power workout on Sunday.

That which doesn't kill me only makes me stronger. Right?

07 July 2013

the joy project: week twenty-four.


Sunday: back to Memphis. lots of early wishes from the peeps in Bangalore. got to chat with Harish, Saranya, Reishabh, and Sastri.

Monday: woke up to beautiful Bangalore weather in Cordova [cloudy and drizzling]. cool 1.63mi run around the neighbourhood. cranked out most of my awesome birthday playlist [made it through 2004, which I'd say was probably enough for one day]. chilled out in the backyard [cannot remember the last time I did that in the middle of the day in July] with my book. lunch at Jason's Deli with the father and brother. big bro got me a Kindle! [he spoils me way too much] family dinner at BBQ Shop. enjoyed some adult beverages at Fox and Hound with the brother and watched a lot of baseball.

Tuesday: slept in. Toys 'R Us and Best Buy run to grab some gifts for all the kiddos in Houston. bought myself a new pair of earphones in the process [I was getting sick of mine slipping out when I ran]. finished the birthday playlist.

Wednesday: 2.40mi run [those new earphones worked out well]. nice long afternoon nap. packed for Houston.

Thursday: on the road at 2.15am to Houston. dropped the mother at Shailesh Bhai's house, said hi to Masi et al, and then spent the rest of the day at Omar and Reva's catching up with the Houston brothers, drinking and swimming and building toys for the kiddos and eating spare ribs and barbecued chicken and playing beer pong. it was a pretty spectacular afternoon / evening / night / early morning.

Friday: spent the hot day in the cool pool again. played H-O-R-S-E with the guys [and finished ahead of my brother]. celebrated Sunjana's sweet 16 with the family.

Saturday: toured Aneek and Anisha's new house. housewarming at Shailesh Bhai and Archana's. late-night family antics that included a 1am gorging of butter chicken lasagna [amazing, by the way]. slept at 2.30am.

it was one heck of a week, and after being out of town 4 weekends in a row, I am worn to the bone. just in time to begin that 1/2 marathon training tomorrow. wish me luck!

01 July 2013

it seems 10k tuesday has morphed into 1/2 marathon monday.

So remember how I was saying just last week that I wasn't training for any particular race? Yeah, well that's gone out the window. Why, you ask? Well, it's because I'm going to be running the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco on October 20th of this year.

And how exactly did that come about? Well, I'll tell you.

So about 3 weeks ago, when I was house-sitting for Walker and Joe, I got an email from Nike+ informing me that the draw for the Nike Women's Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco was open [I use the Nike+ Running app to keep track of my runs, hence why I got the email]. The Run Nike Women Series works differently from other races; because the demand for bibs is so high, rather than having an open registration until all slots are filled, you have one week in which you can enter your name, the names are randomly drawn, and then you are informed if you were accepted to run the race.

I decided, kind of on a whim, to throw my name into the ring. I figured, why not. If my name gets accepted, I get to go to San Francisco in October and hang out with Miriam and Dave for a bit, and the Run Nike Women Series would be pretty cool for my first half marathon. So I filled out the form, sent it out into the world of the interwebs, and promptly forgot about it.

Until Saturday morning.

That's when I checked my email in Atlanta and discovered an email that said exactly what you see above: "Congratulations, you have been accepted."

So it appears as though I am indeed training for something. And not just any something, but an actual half marathon. That's right, 13.1 miles [approximately 21km]. Which is, you guessed it, about 2x farther than I've ever run before. But hey, there's a first time for everything, right? And I have 4 months to get ready for it.

One of the really nice things that the Nike Series has just debuted is a personalized online training app to get you ready for the race. That means that I no longer have to wake up in the morning and figure out how long / far I want to run, because it's already decided for me. And it means that on the in-between days, I have other workouts to complete, so hopefully I can trim and tone in the process. The entire training program is synced through the Nike+ Running and Nike Training Club apps, so it tells you how far to run or which specific workout to complete on a given day. All I have to do is follow directions.

The training program begins 1 week from today on the 8th of July, so for this week I'll just stick to my originally planned schedule of 3 runs and then will dive into that next week. So for the 3 of you out there in the world who actually follow my running trials and tribulations, be on the lookout in the coming weeks for more specific accounts of how my training is coming along.

And wish me luck!

the joy project: week twenty-three.

Sunday: India won the ICC Champions Trophy!

Monday: 3.01km run. photo scavenger hunt around midtown / downtown Memphis. YoLo for "lunch".

Tuesday: lazed in bed. got my first proxy ballot as a Packers Shareholder. finished putting together my birthday playlist!

Wednesday: 2.65km run. India Palace reunion with Walshee. cheered on Walshee and Julie at their kickball game.

Thursday: watched Side Effects with the brother. kind of a weird movie. cranked out 8 [count 'em] 30thursdays posts!

Friday: 1.26mi run [yep, we're back on the English system. I'll explain why very soon]. Bojangles for lunch! road trip to Atlanta with the parents for CHIPPER JONES' JERSEY RETIREMENT CEREMONY. made it through all the speeches without crying [definitely came close, though]. Braves win!

Saturday: found out I was accepted to run the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco in October. a lovely lunch with the Will Tyler and his wife Haley. nice afternoon snooze. dinner with the parents at Zyka.

and so concludes the 30th year of Veena. a new one beings now.