the wonderful world of veena.

24 August 2013

the joy project: week thirty-one.

Sunday: slept in. mum made andwah [it's a Gujurati snack, and that's not how you spell it, but I figure it's close enough]. spent the entire day in my pajamas.

Monday: figured out how to unlock my hard drive! it was pretty exciting.

Tuesday: got to chat with my third-born for a solid half hour. found a place in Memphis that does threading for $5! [still majorly inflated compared to India, but way better than the $20 place I went to in LR]

Wednesday: finally uploaded pictures onto Facebook dating back to June of last year. I consider it my accomplishment of the year.

Thursday: dropped off a box of books to the main branch of the public library. yummy lunch at PF Chang's. those lettuce wraps are to die for.

Friday: mum made her famous steak and baked potatoes, and I ate way too much.

Saturday: survived my first 6.2 mile run since March 2012. family lunch at Bharat [last one before the brother leaves for school]. packed for Aruba!

and tomorrow it's off to Aruba for a week!

1/2 marathon "monday": hydration is sexy.

[I'm heading out of town early tomorrow morning and will be back only on the 1st, so I'm posting this week's update a little bit early. week 8 will be posted as normal on the 2nd]


Monday: 3mi run. I picked up my pace from Saturday and enjoyed a pretty peaceful run. 3 miles is certainly much easier now than it was 6 weeks ago, which is nice, although I didn't have any major incline challenges.

Tuesday: 45-minute Get Toned Beginner Dream Team. it was nice to get back to a 45-minute workout, even taking the broad jumps into account. I think I've finally mastered plank rows, which is no small feat. the only thing - other than those broad jumps - that really tested me was the Crazy Ivans, but those are meant to be challenging. otherwise it was all pretty smooth.

Wednesday: 3mi tempo run. mile 1 was a warm-up, mile 2 was at a faster pace, and mile 3 was a cool down. I felt pretty good throughout the run, and on the return I tackled the hill on Forest Hill-Irene that I normally hate. it was tough, but I made it.

Thursday: 45-minute Get Lean Beginner Cardio Surge workout. lots of squat jumps and squat holds and mountain climbers and all those fun things. it was tough, and I couldn't feel my quads a few times, but I somehow crawled my way through it.

Friday: 15-minute Gabby Douglas Perfect Alignment workout. a nice short core workout after Thursday was exactly what I needed. this workout comes up a few times over the next few weeks, so I'm pretty sure I'll be an expert by the time it's all said and done.

Saturday: 6.2mi run. my first 10k since my race in March 2012. it was hot, it was slow, and it was definitely not pretty, but I ran the whole thing without stopping, and that's what counts.

staying hydrated:

My number one motto in life is hydration is sexy. I pass it along to anyone and everyone that I can in almost every situation in life. And it's no more apparent how important it is than when I'm running in the Memphis heat. Even at 6.30 in the morning, it's often humid, and I can feel the fluids running out of my pores. I've taken Gu with me on a few of my long runs, and it's worked ok, but it's a bit thick for my liking. My brother bought me a small Camelbak that I'll put to use once I come back from Aruba next weekend; it'll be nice to have water with me during my run, but I'm unsure how I'll cope with running with a backpack. I'm hoping that since it's so small, I will hardly notice it. It'll definitely beat running with a water bottle, which I know will annoy me to no end. And besides, my hands get so sweaty, I'm pretty sure I'll drop it at some point.

I reached out to my friends on Facebook to get their opinions on various forms of hydration, and I got a lot of really great responses and suggestions for other products to try out. And Cheryl gave me a heads up on what they'll have along the course by way of hydration and snacks, so that I can go ahead and try those out to see if they work for me. Oh the joys of having friends who work for the race :)

As my Saturday runs continue to get longer and longer, we'll see which gels / chews / hydration secrets work best for me.

Next week's update should be interesting, as I'll be completing Week 8's workouts in Aruba.
Until then.

19 August 2013

[audio] book update: gone girl.

I have been hearing a lot about audible the last few months, so back in June, when I knew I had a number of road trips on my horizon, I decided to try it out. They give you the first month free as a trial, and you get 2 credits to begin, so I used my first credit to listen to Gone Girl [Gillian Flynn]. I had been hearing so much about the book since it came out last year, so I figured it would be a great use of my latest little toy.

The book was awesome. There's really no other word for it. It's fast-paced, it's got a ton of twists and turns, and at times you don't know who to believe or even which character to like in a given moment. But I loved it. If I were reading the book version, I probably would have finished it in about 4 days, because I would not have been able to put it down. Because I was listening to it, it took me significantly longer, and by the final 1/3 of the book, I was just walking around my house listening to it on my phone.

I don't want to discuss the plot overly much, because I don't want to accidentally give away any of the plot twists, but trust me when I say that you should read this as soon as you can. Flynn weaves an awesome story of lies, deception, love, truth, family, loss, heartbreak, and everything in between. I can't wait to read some of her other works.

As far as listening to the book, as I said, it took me a lot longer not having the book in front of me. I have listened to audiobooks before and enjoyed them, but this is one that I think I would have enjoyed more had I been able to read it myself. I didn't have as much time as I had hoped for during my road trips to listen to it, and it was difficult to listen to it while running errands, so I was constantly searching for opportunities to finish it. I am, however, glad that I finally got a chance to read / listen to it.

I am yet to use my second Audible credit just yet, but I think I'll probably download something for my trip to Aruba next week to get me through those airports and plane rides and to listen to while I'm on the beach. Suggestions are always welcome.

Currently Reading:

Emperor's Children [Claire Messud]. Rob, Britney, and I have formed a book club of sorts and are reading this as our first book. I'm about halfway through it and am still a bit unsure how I feel about it. Will do a full write-up after I've finished and once we've had a chance to discuss it. I'm curious to hear what they think of it.

The Shadow Rising [Robert Jordan]. The 4th book in the Wheel of Time series. I obviously did not complete the entire series before my birthday back in July. Once I realised this book itself was 2600 pages long, I gave up on that dream. I am, however, still trucking along through it. I'm a little over halfway and have decided that I will probably be reading these books for the next decade. They're really good, and I'm invested in most of the characters - there are a few that are getting on my nerves - so I'll stick with them, but I'm still pushing through with my other books as well.

On the Horizon:

Whatever Rob or Britney chooses as our book for September.

Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy [John Wood]. Another one from the founder of Room to Read that I am excited about.

The Fault in Our Stars [John Green]. Another one that has been gaining a lot of good publicity. Being made into a movie that is releasing either late this year or early next year.

Midnight's Children [Salman Rushdie]. It's been on my must-read list for years. And one of these days I'm actually going to get around to reading it.

I've got a few trips coming up, so I'm hoping to make a dent in my ever-growing list of books.
And as always, I love hearing suggestions for anything I need to add to my list.

1/2 marathon monday: thank heaven for cooler weather.


Monday: 2mi run. after the failures of the previous week's runs, this one was actually pretty alright. I took it easy, got back into my stride, and was happy with how it went.

Tuesday: 30 minutes on the elliptical. it was a "choose-your-own-workout" day, so I decided to go with the elliptical. I chose the rolling setting, put on my music, and went at it. I hadn't done the elliptical in a while, and it was fine.

Wednesday: 1.6mi run. easy 1 mile run followed by a sprint for the last .6 mile. technically it was supposed to be 5x200m sprints, but I wasn't running on a track, so I had to improvise. thanks to the awesome weather and my improved diet, it was a really good run.

Thursday: 15-minute Get Focused Leaner Legs workout followed by 15-minute Hope Solo's Unbeatable workout. lots of drop squats and wood chop jumps and some quick runs in place, but I made it through.

Friday: 15-minute Gabby Douglas Perfect Alignment workout. a great 15-minute stretching session and leg lifts to follow Thursday's crazy workout. my legs were feeling really stiff, and this was a great way to loosen up all my muscles.

Saturday: 5mi run. I slowed my pace waaaaayyyyyy down, took some Gu with me for my journey, and survived all 5 miles in one go! and in the process, I conquered the hill on Bazemore that normally kicks my ass, so I was pretty proud of myself.

Sunday: rest day. and I needed it. my muscles were super sore.

the diet is the key. the weather helps, too.

It was crazy how much better I felt after only 2 days of being back on a healthy diet. I felt so much lighter during my runs, and those hills that normally cause me trouble were no problem at all. My brother and I started making fish and veggies for lunch, and by Wednesday's run, I could feel the difference in my energy levels and my endurance. And by Saturday, I knew I could tackle those 5 miles and any hills, and I did.

This week is going to be a test, since it's the brother's last before he heads back to school, but we're trying our best to control ourselves a bit. I'm going to need all the energy I can get for Saturday's 6.2 miler.

And the weather! The past 6 days have been absolutely beautiful here in Memphis. Cool mornings, highs in the upper 70s / low 80s, and wonderfully cooling breezes all day long. You'd never have known it was August. It was also a major factor in my runs going smoothly last week.

6 weeks down, only 9 to go!

17 August 2013

the joy project: week thirty.

Sunday: slept in. picked up the parents from the airport.

Monday: finally cleaned and organised my closet. it's been 3 months in the making.

Tuesday: made more progress cleaning my room.

Wednesday: enjoyed my weekly late-Wednesday-morning-nap.

Thursday: awesome lunch at Genghis Grill. saw The Way Way Back at the renovated Malco Ridgeway [it's fancy these days!].

Friday: turned in my computer and all my various accessories to school so they will release my transcript. Slim Chicken's lunch with Nathan Jesson and Britney. got to see where Bee works and take a tour of the Arkansas Foodbank!

Saturday: survived my first 5 mile run! got to play in the dirt with my mum and help her plant her new jasmine plants.

it's been a pretty low-key week. mostly just been hanging with the brother before he heads back to school. and we've been watching a lot of Chuck, so that's been happening, too.

some fun stuff on the horizon for next week, though, and then it's off to Aruba for a week!

13 August 2013

1/2 marathon monday: it's a marathon, not a sprint.

This is a double update that covers the last 2 weeks. My nieces were in town for a week, and I chose to hang with them rather than spend my time on Blogger. I hope you'll forgive me and read on.


Monday 29: awesome weather for an early morning 2mi run. shaved another 30 seconds off my previous time. loved having the alone time after having a full house all weekend.

Tuesday 30: 30-minute Get Toned Beginner Body Flexor workout. after 3 weeks of 45-minute workouts, 30 minutes seemed to be over as soon as it began. I think it was also because it was all exercises I've done before, including a lot of squats and lunges, so that also helped it go by quickly.

Wednesday 31: another 2mi run. it was about a minute slower than Monday, but that was partly because it was raining for the first 1/2 mile or so, so I was treading carefully. the rain definitely kept a lot of people indoors, because I didn't see any of the regulars I normally see when I'm out at that time. it was nice and cool while it was raining, but once it stopped, it was a bit muggy the rest of the way.

Thursday 1: 30-minute Get Lean Beginner Jump Start workout. this one again felt like it was over as soon as it started, but this time I was not complaining, especially after the squat jumps and mountain climbers and tuck jumps. those are hard on the quads.

Friday 2: 3mi run. this one was a lot tougher and a lot slower than last week's 3-miler. my guess - which I'm completely making up, by the way - is that my eating has been really bad this week [too much Indian food], and my body was just not in the mood for that run. and me being me, I decided at the beginning that I should try to push myself, which meant I was struggling at the end. either way, I was definitely glad when it finished. lesson learned for future long runs: take your time, and make sure your body is prepared to follow through on your mind's plans for it.

Saturday 3: sleep and rest.

Sunday 4: 3.5mi run. I slowed my pace down and took my time, and I'm really glad I did. My run was good, and I felt like I still had something in me at the end.

Monday 5: 2.5mi run. this was the first time I've had to run on back-to-back days, and I was initially nervous about how my knees would hold up, but it turned out to be alright. I did, however, fall almost straight back into bed once I got back home. two mornings in a row of waking up at 5.15am took their toll, and since the brother and the nieces were still sleeping, I figured I might as well, too.

Tuesday 6: 30-minute Get Strong Beginner Full Action workout. talk about ouch. squat flips, multiple sets of tuck jumps, and some wall sits. my quads were not very happy with me. I'm really glad this one was only 30 minutes, because it was rather intense.

Wednesday 7: 3mi run. probably the worst run I've had in my 4 weeks of training. I was super sluggish, it was majorly humid outside, and I just didn't feel great about it. the incline coming back on Forest Hill-Irene nearly did me in, and I actually had to pause my run a few times to catch my breath and stretch my hamstrings.

Thursday 8: 45-minute Get Strong Beginner Pump Station workout. overall a pretty good workout. I'm still having trouble with plank rows and plank walks, but I'm slowly improving. I just still find them really awkward, but I'm hoping I'll get used to them.

Friday 9: 30-minute stretching session. it was nice to have a kind of day off and to stretch out my muscles.

Saturday 10: 4mi run. not as good as the 3.5 miler from the past Sunday, but still better than Wednesday's 3. the humidity is what is really getting to me, and that hill coming back on Bazemore was tough, but I made it through. I changed up my route a bit, and I'm glad I did; it was nice to get some new variety. I ran the length of Forest Hill-Irene to Walnut Grove, then up to the light at Sanga, along Sanga to Bazemore, up Bazemore, and then across FH-I and around Riveredge [it wasn't as complicated as it sounds]; the run on Sanga was particularly nice and was a stretch I'd not run before.

Sunday 11: rest! sleep in! joy!

Marathon, not sprint...

I was feeling pretty proud of myself after those runs the previous week, so this week I tried to push myself to lower my pace even more. What I forgot was that my diet was all screwy because of the combination of leftovers in our fridge, being too lazy to make a salad or some fish each evening, and then the arrival of my nieces from Houston for a week, which meant we were eating out and eating junk a lot. The result was that some of my runs were painful. More painful than they should have been.

Going into Sunday's run - on the 4th - I had to keep reminding myself: "this is a marathon, not a sprint". That is to say, "slow down, Veen. stop pushing yourself so heard, and listen to your body when it's trying to tell you something". I have a feeling it's a mantra that is going to be on repeat in the next 3 months, and one of these days, I'm finally going to listen to that inner monologue of mine.

Getting back on the healthy eating train

So my eating. To put it simply, it's been terrible the last 2 weeks. We've had visitors, we've been making a lot of Indian food, we've been eating out a lot, and I have felt how it's taken a toll on both my body and my training. I also got out of the habit of logging my food, simply because it's too difficult with Indian food. So with all of that going on, my eating took a turn for the worse.

With no visitors on the horizon, I am employing my self-discipline and am going to be extra careful with my eating in the coming weeks. I foresee lots of fruits, salads, and fish in my future. I like all of those things, so it's not like it's going to be painful or difficult; it's just that it's going to take a good bit of self-control. And I still allow myself some indulgences from time-to-time.

So here we go, back to it.

10 August 2013

the joy project: weeks twenty-eight and twenty-nine.

[double update! I know you're excited]

Sunday 28: got to see the Bee as she was passing through town on her way back to the Rock.

Monday 29: spent the day relaxing and recuperating from the weekend.

Tuesday 30: dinner at the Palace with Katie Walsh that included free shish kababs. and then I was sent home with complimentary mutter paneer, chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, rice, and papad for my family. India Palace and I love each other something fierce.

Wednesday 31: started tackling the cleaning and organizing of my room. lunch at Kwik Chek with Dubz before he moves to DC next week.

Thursday 1: went to Barnes & Noble and walked out without buying a book! [that's a rare occurrence for me] started reading Emperor's Children [Claire Messud].

Friday 2: got my library card so I can borrow ebooks for free. in the evening, our next-door-neighbour brought us some flowers and fresh basil from her garden!

Saturday 3: party at the Rangaswami house. brother's friend Ian and Sunjana and Karisma - the nieces from Houston - came to hang. so much food. mum made tandoori and kheema and parwar, and I made parathas and stuffed okra. late-evening run to Baskin-Robbins. always a good way to wrap up a Saturday.

Sunday 4: learned to make butter chicken. took the girls to see The Heat.

Monday 5: mixed the masala for meatballs and rolled them. went bowling and then to see Grown-Ups 2. came home to meatballs in the process of being made. made brownies with the girls. [I told you, lots of food]

Tuesday 6: made spaghetti sauce all by myself, and it turned out fantastically well, if I do say so myself. saw Fruitvale Station [all 3 movies will be discussed in a separate post coming ... soon?].

Wednesday 7: spent the entire afternoon on the couch. I wasn't feeling super well, and it was so nice to have the house to myself and to just relax.

Thursday 8: Graceland. Beale Street. Blues City Cafe. ribs. [I feel like that says it all]

Friday 9: got my teeth cleaned [I'm one of those weird people who enjoys it]. Mexican food for lunch. finished Season 2 of Chuck.

Saturday 10: drinking and Chuck session with the brother. while the parents are away, the children will play.

it's been a crazy couple of weeks, and I for one am ready to get back into my routine.