the wonderful world of veena.

30 September 2013

1/2 marathon monday: discovering great runs in Memphis.


Monday: 5mi run. a huge thank you to the running weather gods for hearing my plea and providing absolutely beautiful weather for my run. it was cool, there was a great breeze, and there was no humidity to be found. I went for a nice little scamper through the neighbourhood and loved it.

Tuesday: it was a pick-your-own 30-minute workout, so I did a 15-minute Get Focused Ab Burner workout and a 15-minute Better Butt workout. both were fine, except for the split jumps in the second one, but otherwise nothing major. guess I'm becoming a planking expert or something.

Wednesday: 5mi run. was supposed to be a tempo run, but my batteries weren't fully charged. but I did have a change of scenery. I got up a few minutes early and drove over to Shelby Farms, which was pretty nice. the trail begins going through the woods, which I really enjoyed. kind of made me feel like I was back in Coorg. and it helped me work on picking up my feet when I run, since there are lots of tree roots and various things across the trail path. after about 1.5 miles, you emerge onto the access road that runs parallel to Walnut Grove, which I followed up to the lake and back. it was cool, since I could see all the traffic on the main road but didn't have to deal with it. I got a little winded around mile 3.5, so I walked for about 400 meters and then ran the rest. the main downside to running through the woods, though, was that my GPS signal was weak, so I don't know how accurate the distance was. it was about 5 minutes slower overall than Monday's run, which I think sounds about right, but I don't know for sure. it was definitely nice to have a change of scenery, though, and I really enjoyed the bit through the woods.

Thursday & Friday: yep, skipped those workouts. oops :/

Saturday: 12mi run on the Greenline [see below]. wow. it was long, but it was good. I ran the first 10k straight through [my fastest 10k ever! 2 minutes faster than my race in March 2012] and then walked for about 400 meters. Katie Walsh met me at Highland with cold water [she is a godsend] and then ran ahead of me for a bit. at the end, especially from miles 10 to 12, the intervals were shorter and slower with a bit more walking than I maybe would have liked, but I'm still pretty happy with how it went, and I'm feeling more confident about my race. which is in 3 WEEKS! I can't believe that from the beginning of July, we're down to only 3 weeks from race day. the moment of truth is nearly upon us. also, I met two really nice women on my run. they passed me at one point, but then they stopped to walk, so I passed them and stayed ahead of them for a bit until near the end of my run. I ran into them again in the parking lot, and they said they had been using me to pace them and that I was maintaining a really good, consistent pace throughout my run, which was a really nice thing to hear. pacing is one of those things I sometimes worry about, and it was nice to have complete strangers say something like that, especially when it was toward the end of my run, and I was feeling as though I were less consistent than at the beginning. so thank you, random women, and hopefully we can be running buddies again soon.

my recent Shelby Farms Park obsession:

for months I have been intending to utilize some of the trails of Shelby Farms Park, and this week I got out and explored two of them. and I really liked them both.

the trail off Germantown Parkway and Walnut Bend I really liked because it was pretty quiet and isolated, and because part of it is an actual trail through the woods. it was good practice for picking up my feet while I run, and I just like that it reminded me of trekking through the jungle in Coorg. it was pretty dark when I first set out, so whenever I run that one in the future, I think I'll give it an extra 15 minutes to have a bit more light through the trees. it's good for runs around 5 miles.

I'd been hearing and reading about the Greenline for over a year and had been wanting to check it out - especially now that it comes all the way out to the Park - and I really enjoyed it. it's a straight run from Mullins Station at Farm Road all the way down to Tillman [parallel to I-40 / Sam Cooper, but with very minimal traffic noise - a HUGE plus], it's flat, and - most importantly - it's shaded. it was pretty cool when I ran out there on Saturday, with only a few small spots of sunshine [yet I still somehow managed to get a tan. go figure]. and even though it was Saturday and there were a good number of people out, it only seemed to get crowded toward the end, around 10, which was really nice. and it was nice to set up a meeting with a friend and see a familiar face at my halfway point. especially a familiar face bearing water. cold water. my only complaint about the Greenline is that it doesn't have water fountains. I am someone who hates carrying water bottles, and I forgot my Camelbak, so having that water break at the midway point was huge. I had some Gu Chomps with me - the watermelon ones - and I chomped on a few every 3 miles, which helped, but water is always the key. other than that, however, I loved the Greenline and will definitely be utilizing it for more of my long runs. it's such a sense of accomplishment to say that I ran from Farm Road to Highland and back. pretty cool.

here's to running more of the 901 in the coming weeks / months.
woo pig.

29 September 2013

the joy project: week thirty-six.

Sunday: lovely brunch in Nashville with Dr and Mrs Hughes, Lindsay, and Catherine and Drew before I hit the road back to Memphis. Masi and Shailesh Bhai have come to visit.

Monday: one of our jasmine plants [Jep Jasmine, to be precise] had another flower overnight. took Masi and Shailesh Bhai to Curry Bowl for lunch. found a $3 copy of The Age of Innocence [Edith Wharton] at Goodwill. had some promising communication about a potential j-o-b. began writing my first ever cover letter.

Tuesday: lunch at Flavors. prepped for Thursday's grad fairs at CBU and Rhodes.

Wednesday: changed up my routine and did my run at Shelby Farms. submitted my application and cover letter for a position I'm really interested in. cross your fingers I get an interview!

Thursday: repped the Clinton School at the CBU and Rhodes grad school expos [and discovered how well Admissions folks eat while they're traveling]. dinner at the Palace with Katie Walsh. getting some ideas underway for Booktober.

Friday: good chat with a potential future boss [that sounds weird to say]. found out I have a Skype interview next week!

Saturday: survived a 12 mile run. fell in love with the Greenline.

bit of a crazy week with family in town and various things going on, but it was nice to be busy. hope it's sign of good things to come.
woo pig.

27 September 2013

the 5 biggest decisions of my life.

It's no secret that I'm at a bit of a crossroads in my life right now. I recently finished graduate school, I turned 30 a few months ago, and I'm slowly trying to figure out where I want to be and what I want to be doing. While I sit at this juncture, I've been thinking a lot about how I got here, and I've realised that much of my life has hinged on 5 major decisions that have taken place over the course of my life.

1. Moving up from 1st to 2nd grade.
When I was in 1st grade, my teacher had trouble giving me enough work to keep me occupied. I would finish worksheets early and then sit in the back of the room and play while my classmates completed theirs. I'm not saying this to brag or to imply that I was necessarily smarter than the other students in my class: I was 6, after all; we were all on the same level. But for whatever reason, it happened, and my teacher suggested to my parents that I move up to 2nd grade so that I could be challenged more. My mother and I went to Little Rock so that I could meet with a child psychologist there to make sure I was emotionally ready for that, she said I was, and so my parents and I - as much as I could, being 6 - decided that I would move up a grade. After 6 weeks in 1st grade, I was suddenly a 2nd grader; from being Class of '01, I was a 2000 kid. I loved being a part of my new class, and I never once regretted my decision to switch grades, but it was definitely a catalyst for everything that has come after.

2. Leaving DeSoto to attend Baylor.
This was definitely one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. When my brother started at Emory, he had a tough time adjusting to the rigorous academics, and he suggested we think about my attending boarding school in Chattanooga to better prepare me for college. At the time, I was horrified. My first thought was that my parents wanted to get rid of me so they could have the house to themselves. Yes, I realise now that I was being melodramatic, but hey, I was 14, cut me some slack. Once I got over myself, my parents and brother and I started talking more seriously about my attending Baylor, and my father and I flew to Chattanooga to visit the campus and see the school. And that's what cemented it for me. The campus was beautiful, all the people I met were great, and by the time we left campus, I was sold. My admission letter came soon after, and come August 1998, off I went for what remains 2 of the greatest years of my life. I grew a lot as an individual, I made a number of friends from across the US and around the world, and I learned from amazing individuals both in and out of the classroom. Baylor opened up a whole new world for me and provided immense preparation for the rigorous academics that I would encounter at Rhodes. I loved my dorm and the friendships I made there, I loved the random Saturday adventures we would find for ourselves, and I loved the community I found at Baylor. It was a great place to be a part of, and part of my heart will always live in Chattanooga at the top of that hill.

3. Volunteering in India for 6 months.
When I first graduated from Rhodes, I had no idea what I wanted to do. While my friends were stressing about grad school applications and finding work, I was pretty successfully avoiding thinking about the future. Because my parents were moving to Memphis right after my graduation, I wasn't worried about needing to find immediate employment. I took a few months to help my mother unpack and sort out the house, and I eventually became a nanny for Carter Strickland, one of the happiest and easiest babies I've ever known [the fact that he is now NINE floors me. to me he'll always be tiny]. And while I enjoyed hanging out with Carter and teaching him new tricks, I was continually drawn to the idea of volunteering in India. It was something I'd toyed with previously, but with school commitments and summer jobs, it hadn't worked out. I started Googling various projects and organizations, and I eventually landed in the hands of Peace Child India. From there, my life has never been the same. I spent 6 months teaching English in 3 government schools around Bangalore, traveling around south India, and being welcomed with open arms into the wonderful Devaraj family. Those 6 months changed the trajectory of my life in countless ways, and every day I am thankful for some stray memory from that time.

4. Moving back to Bangalore indefinitely in 2007.
After my initial round in Bangalore, I returned to Memphis and began working at Barnes & Noble, eventually getting promoted into the role of Head Cashier. While I enjoyed the work that I was doing and most of the people I worked with, I couldn't stop thinking about my time in India. I wanted to go back. And finally one day Shonali said to me: "Veen, if you want to come back, then come back. Stop whining and feeling bad for yourself and do something about it." And it was exactly the kick in the ass I needed. I was wallowing in self-pity about not being in Bangalore, but I wasn't actively trying to get back. I was all talk. So I decided I should teach. I had found a TEFL course in Calcutta and signed up for it, thinking that I could find a job teaching at an international school in Bangalore once I finished the course. Before going to Calcutta, I went to Bangalore for a week to spend some time with Bern and the rest of the family, and she mentioned to me that Jagan and Maeve would soon be moving to the UK and Peace Child would need some help and was I interested. Was I interested?? Of course I was. It was what I had been wanting for nearly 18 months. We agreed to start on a trial basis with me being in charge of trying to recruit new volunteers, and as soon as I finished my TEFL certification in Calcutta, I was on a plane back to Bangalore. Little did I know what the next 4 years had in store for me. I went from sending outreach emails to eventually leading and organizing the project at the Boys' Home. I led 11 [that I can remember] groups on trips to Mysore, Hampi, Coorg, Mahaballipuram, and Kerala. I became a part of the Devaraj family in ways I could never have imagined. I grew into an adult. And I met wonderful people from all over the world. Those 4 years further solidified my desire to help others, they brought me some of the best friends I have, and they provided me with numerous wonderful memories that I will cherish forever. Deciding to leave was another one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I will forever be grateful for those years and for those people.

5. Leaving Bangalore for graduate school.
Around late 2009, I first heard of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. While Facebook stalking various people, I discovered that a friend from Rhodes had attended a mysterious grad school called the "Clinton School of Public Service". I had never heard of it, so I decided to check out the website, and I was impressed with what I saw. What especially drew me to the program was the emphasis on fieldwork and the requirement that all students complete an international project. Working abroad for so many years made me certain that everyone should have some international service experience at some point in their lives, regardless of their field. I wasn't ready yet for graduate school [or to leave Bangalore, if I'm honest], but I kept it in the back of my mind and would periodically check the website to see the updates and to see what cool new speakers had been a part of their speaker series. Finally, when I was in the States for a visit in fall 2010, I told my parents I was thinking of applying to grad school. I had found a school - in Little Rock, no less - that offered a "Master of Public Service", and I was interested [my father was thrilled at the thought of me in graduate school]. I bought a Kaplan GRE study guide, and I headed back to Bangalore. Over the next few months, I wrote personal essays and I solicited recommendations from long-lost professors and I studied for my first standardized test in over a decade. And while those preparations were difficult, I knew I was making the right decision. I knew I needed to further develop my skills and test myself in new ways. I knew it was the right time for me to go back to school. And I knew if I didn't leave Peace Child and Bangalore then, I never would. When I found out I was accepted, on a rainy Tuesday night in April [I remember it because my house flooded], I was overjoyed. It had been a long time since I had worked toward something like that, and having it pay off meant the world to me. While I know my decision to move back to the States for school put a lot of pressure on my personal life and eventually ended a relationship, I also know it was the right thing for me. Attending the Clinton School opened up a number of new opportunities for me, introduced me to wonderful people doing amazing work all around the globe, and brought me still more friends who continue to influence my life.

And now here I sit, on the verge of making yet another big decision. At present, I am looking primarily at jobs in the States. While a part of my heart will always be in India, at this juncture I think I need to explore more opportunities here. So much of my professional life has been spent abroad that I would like to get a glimpse of what working life is like in the States.

I know things will work out when they're meant to work out, and in the meantime I have been enjoying trips to see old friends and to celebrate weddings and babies and getting to do all those things I missed out on for all those years. It's nice getting to see people I've not seen in a long time and to take trips to new places and to try new things.

And one day, eventually, I'll find myself exactly where I'm supposed to be.

25 September 2013

movie reviews: end-of-summer edition.

There's been a lot of movie-watching happening recently, so I figured it was easier to fill you in on all of them at once. So here goes.

The Heat. This was Karisma's choice when the nieces came to visit, and it was pretty hilarious. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy make quite the comedic team, and it was just the right combination of funny and slightly serious to keep us all entertained. And - best of all when dealing with comedies - it didn't try to be any more than it was and stayed under 2 hours. In my books, that's a win-win. And after watching Melissa McCarthy as Sookie all those years ago on Gilmore Girls, I'm happy to see her starting to get some real recognition for her comedic talents [which reminds me that I still need to see Bridesmaids].

Grown-Ups 2. This one was Sunjana's pick during Niece Week. Having not seen / heard of the first one, I had no idea what to expect going into it, and I was pretty entertained for its duration. I was happy to see Adam Sandler in a non-annoying role, and the feud the "grown-ups" had with a local frat was pretty entertaining. It was probably 20 minutes too long, but otherwise I enjoyed it.

Fruitvale Station. This was my pick during Niece Week. I hadn't heard anything about Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old who was gunned down by a transit cop in Oakland on New Year 2009, until I read reviews of this movie. Grant is played by Michael B Jordan of Friday Night Lights and The Wire fame, and I think he did a great job making the character human. He's already generating a lot of awards buzz for his performance, and I definitely think he's deserving of the praise. The movie was quite intense, especially the climax, but I thought it was done really well and didn't try to dramatize the story too much. Definitely one to see if you want a more serious movie.

The Way Way Back. One of the many coming-of-age stories that are releasing this year. I wanted to see a movie at the renovated Ridgeway Four theater in east Memphis, and this one was playing, so off we set. I - as per usual - did not know anything about it except that it had Steve Carrell. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. The main character, Duncan, was great, as was the overgrown man-child who is the manager of the water park [I can't remember other character names right now]. And Steve Carrell was phenomenal. His character isn't necessarily very likable, and although it took me some time to adjust to not liking him, he did a great job in the role. Great movie, didn't try to be more than what it was, and not too long and overly dramatic. Go see it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower. My brother rented this on iTunes a few months ago and then started quoting it to me and was dumbfounded when I didn't respond. He'd heard me mention the book, so he assumed I had seen the film as well. When I said I hadn't, he re-rented it so I could watch it. And it was awesome. I loved the book when I read it nearly 7 years ago, and I loved the movie just as much. It is directed by Stephen Chbosky, the author of the book, so it is true to his vision, which I loved. I only wish all the authors of my favourite books had the talent to adapt their novels to the big screen. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and especially Ezra Miller [with great appearances by Paul Rudd, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh, and Mae Whitman]. I loved how simply and tastefully Chbosky keps the movie, and it's definitely one I'll be owning and rewatching in the future.

Elysium. The brother, father, and I watched this one when we were down in Aruba at the end of August. I had seen a few previews for it when we had gone to other movies during the summer, and I thought it looked interesting. I generally like Matt Damon's movies, and Jodie Foster is an amazing actress, so we decided to give it a go. And it was definitely worth seeing. It's set in a futuristic Los Angeles where earth is in shreds and the 1% live on a closed-off space station that orbits Earth. What scared me the most is that it didn't seem like something that would happen way off in the future. Matt Damon was excellent in his role as a factory worker in LA who gets exposed to intense radiation and will only survive if he can get onto the space station, and Jodie Foster was pretty good as the "Secretary of Defense" whose job it is to keep outsiders off the pristine floating world. And Diego Luna was in it! I wasn't expecting him, so that was a nice surprise. Definitely one worth seeing.

Others I want to see:

  • Lee Daniels' The Butler
  • The Spectacular Now
  • Runner Runner
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
And there you have it, more movies watched in the last 3 months than probably in the last 3 years of my life.
woo pig.

24 September 2013

book update: emperor's children, cold sassy tree, and the ocean at the end of the lane.

I've read a few new books in the last two months and listened to another, so I thought I would share some thoughts on them with you.

Emperor's Children [Claire Messud]. This is one of those that always appears on all those lists-of-books-you-should-read, so Britney, Rob, and I read it in September for our "book club" selection [we don't really discuss the books, since we live in different places and time zones, but we use each other as motivation for reading]. And I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed with the book. I know it's renowned for its prose and its language and all that, but it didn't really do it for me. I think one of my biggest struggles was that of the 5 main characters, I really only found one vaguely likable [and even that is a bit of a stretch]. That made the other chapters much more difficult to get through. And although the book was pretty long, I really didn't feel like a whole lot happened until the end. It was a lot of narrative, and I can't say Messud's style of writing is really my thing. I can see why literature snobs like the book, but it wasn't one of my favourites.

Cold Sassy Tree [Olive Ann Burns]. Lindsay recommended this book to me many moons ago, and while I've had it in my library for a number of years, I only just got around to reading it. I enjoyed this one much more than Emperor's Children for a number of reasons: I found Will Tweedy, the 14-year-old narrator of the story, to be immensely likable; I learned quite a lot about small-town Georgia circa 1906; and I very much enjoyed Burns' writing style, especially her way of writing how the characters would be speaking. I often found myself reading along with a bit of a Georgia twang. When Will's grandfather, the owner of the town's general store and only 3 weeks a widower, elopes with a "Yankee" lady [she's from Baltimore] half his age, the town pretty much erupts into chaos, and Will narrates the events of the months that follow with childlike amazement and a great sense of maturity. I'm so glad I finally read it, and I can't recommend it enough.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane [Neil Gaiman]. I downloaded this on on Audible for a recent trip to Little Rock, and I really enjoyed it. For one, it's narrated by Gaiman himself, which I think always gives audiobooks that little extra oomph. And for another, it's only about 5.5 hours long. It's a wonderful story about a young boy who befriends the girl at the end of the lane who has an "ocean" in her backyard. As the boy soon discovers, the girl and her mother and grandmother are not mere mortals like he and his family, and the adventures that soon occur are quite extraordinary. The book is narrated by the boy as an adult as he revisits his childhood village and these memories return to him. I really enjoyed the book, and it was a great listen for the road. I've previously read only one of Gaiman's books, which I enjoyed, and after this experience I think I am going to have to check out a few more of his soon.

Next on the list:
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Red House by Mark Haddon
Also, some of the lists I've found floating around on the interwebs, if you need reading inspiration:
woo pig.

23 September 2013

1/2 marathon monday: looking for some motivation.


[I skipped Monday's and Thursday's workouts because of my neck. still not sure what caused it to hurt so badly, but all seems to be back in working order. hopefully week 12 will not have any setbacks]

Tuesday: 3mi run. I got a little over-excited after my long run the previous Saturday, and I went a little too fast out of the gate. I ran the first mile hard and was pretty winded, so I had to slow way down for the final 2 miles. note to self: my body is built for distance, NOT speed.

Wednesday: 6 hill sprints with walkdown. I found a hill in the neighbourhood that is some combination of steep and long, and I set off. I know 6 isn't much, but like I said, I'm not a sprinter, so those last few were pretty tough.

Friday: 8mi of what was supposed to be an 11mi run. it was way too humid [see below], so I called it a day after 8. I was on my way to feeling a little let down about it, but then I remembered that 8 is still a lot and is significantly more than I could run even a month or two ago, so I got over it pretty quickly. I still have two more long runs before my race in 4 weeks, so I'm confident I'll be alright. also, it was super humid because of the rain that came later in the morning.

[the long run was supposed to be on Saturday, but because I went to Nashville and knew I wouldn't get up and run on Saturday, I moved it to Friday to make sure I ran something]

Sunday: rest rest and more rest.

oh the humidity:

there was rain in the air all week, so Wednesday's and Friday's runs were both really humid. here in Memphis, the heat is sometimes manageable, but the humidity will really get to you. there were some mornings during the summer when I would run at 5.30 in the morning, and the humidity would already be at 70%. I can run fairly quickly - by my standards - when it's cool outside, but I come to a near standstill when the humidity kicks in. I've made it through most of the training because the runs have been shorter, but Friday's run really got to me, because it was humid when I started my run, and then the sun came out and was pretty strong. the combination really got to me, and although I had Clif Shot Bloks with me, I really needed water as well, because I could feel the fluids draining from my body. so this is my plea to the weather gods to please ease up on the humidity in the coming weeks. isn't it supposed to be fall anyway?

in need of motivation:

I think another problem I've had the last few weeks is a serious lack of motivation, particularly for the workouts throughout the week. I get up early to run because otherwise it's way too hot, but with the workouts I don't need to. then it gets to that awkward mid-morning stage where I think to myself, "it's 8.30 now, even if I work out from 9-9.45, it'll be 10.30 at the earliest before I'm showered and ready for the day." and it's not like I do a whole lot with my days, but if I do have any errands to run, I like to finish them in the morning before it gets too hot. so then I sleep for an extra 20-30 minutes and skip the workout. I know the weird crick I had in my neck was also a contributing factor, and I think I've managed to banish it, so hopefully that won't factor into my decisions about whether or not to work out.

another problem is that I am bored of running in my parents' neighbourhood. I've branched out a bit and started exploring a little, but I definitely need a change of scenery. for Wednesday's run I think I'll head to Shelby Farms and run on the path there to have some new sights to look at. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for Saturday's 12-miler, but I'll figure something out between now and then.

I know my race is only 4 weeks away, so I'm hoping I can change things up just enough between now and then to keep my motivation levels from dropping too much. and with the weather becoming so much nicer and the onset of fall, I think I'll be alright.

only 4 weeks to go!
woo pig.

22 September 2013

the joy project: week thirty-five.

Sunday: lunch at Curry Bowl for my father's birthday. Packers victory.

Monday: solo lunch at McAlister's. finally finished my Aruba travel guide.

Tuesday: [I honestly can't remember what I did on Tuesday. I think that probably means I spent the day on the couch watching Greek]

Wednesday: finally finished cleaning and organising my room and bathroom. I can't remember the last time I saw my bedroom floor.

Thursday: tried McDonald's new spicy wings. I have to say, they were pretty good.

Friday: so much rain. drove to Nashville. lovely dinner at Lindso and Steve's house with the Wright and Hughes families.

Saturday: baby shower for Lindso, Steve, and the Muffin at Catherine and Drew's house. lovely food + fun friends = a fun Saturday afternoon. spent the evening playing cornhole in the yard and then wound down with some pizza and episodes of Drunk History and New Girl.

the beginning of the week was a bit slow, but it culminated in a fun weekend in Nashville. it's always nice to get to see my Rhodes peeps.
woo pig.

17 September 2013

an open letter to memphis drivers.

Let me preface this post by saying that I by no means profess to be a perfect driver. I know I have my own faults while driving, and I sometimes get overly impatient with bad driving, but I can definitely say I'm a better - and safer - driver than at least 80% of the other people on the road in Memphis.

So without further ado, my open letter to my fellow drivers in Memphis:

Dear fellow Memphis drivers,

I feel it is my civic duty to bring to your attention many of the simple rules of driving that you seem to have forgotten [or perhaps never learned in the first place]. Having taken my original driving test in Arkansas, I do not know what the requirements are for obtaining a license in Memphis, but I'm pretty sure those standards need to be raised. I've known for many years that Memphis drivers are some of the worst I've ever encountered, but I feel it's become worse in recent years. Please find below some simple guidelines that may help you on the roads and prevent you from causing rage amongst your fellow patrons of the road.

1. The rules of a 4-way stop are very simple. The first thing to remember is that you must come to a full stop. The second is to always know who has the right of way. Just because you came to that full stop doesn't mean you get to immediately go again. The debacle that occurs every day at Trinity and Walnut Bend needs to be taken care of. Soon. [and honking at me because I actually came to that full stop is not going to make me move any faster]

2. Always signal your intention to change lanes. Those fancy blinker lights are not just there for decoration.

3. You are not coordinated enough or a good enough driver to text / talk and drive. So please stop. If it's that urgent, pull over into a parking lot and respond / speak before carrying on with your day. And please stop swerving into my lane because you're trying to multitask.

4. Your head lights and tail lights serve a purpose. Please use them. Particularly when it's raining. And please learn when it is appropriate to use your bright lights and when it is not. My eyes thank you for your consideration.

5. If you insist on following that closely, I'm probably going to go slower just to piss you off. Keep a safe distance.

6. When it is clearly marked that your lane is going to end, and you zoom off to get ahead before you cut over, I'm definitely not letting you into my lane. On a similar note, if you are in the right lane and are planning on turning left, don't wait until the last minute and then cut across traffic to make your turn. It's dangerous, it messes up the flow of traffic, and it generally means you're an asshole.

7. Don't speed through residential neighbourhoods. It's in poor taste.

8. Please pay attention to posted speed limits. On Germantown Parkway, for example, the speed limit is 50. Not 25, not 35, but 50. Learn to keep up with the flow of traffic, or get off the road.

9. Learn the rules of merging. It's really not rocket science, I swear.

10. Slower vehicles - particularly on Walnut Grove by Shelby Farms - drive on the RIGHT.

If we can all agree to follow these guidelines on the road, perhaps we can learn to coexist somewhat peacefully together. And who knows, we might all learn to enjoy driving once again.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

A Concerned Citizen

I figured it was either this or just run over someone outright on Germantown Parkway or Walnut Grove. This seemed like a better option.
woo pig.

[a lot of what I learned through the writing of this post is that I hate east Memphis drivers and need to move back to Midtown...]

16 September 2013

memphis eats: curry bowl.

If you know anything about my father, you know that he loves his Indian lunch buffets. He has literally followed cooks across the city and to different restaurants to maintain access to his favourite dishes. A few years ago, he discovered a new Indian restaurant on Hacks Cross called Flavors, and I swear he ate there every Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday for a solid 3 months. There was one dish in particular - the Andhra chicken curry - that he practically salivated over. As per usual, I was skeptical at first, because I refuse to believe there is any better place than my beloved India Palace in Midtown. He eventually convinced me to try it out, and I admit I was impressed, especially with the aforementioned Andhra chicken curry.

Fast forward to earlier this year, when he discovered his favourite waiter and his beloved Andhra chicken curry had disappeared from Flavors. The man didn't know what to do. Being a loyal customer, he continued to go to Flavors for lunch once a week, but it just wasn't the same. He eventually ascertained that the waiter had left over some business issues, and with him he took his wife and sister-in-law, the main cooks and the secret behind that mouth-watering curry.

After some digging, he found out that the "Coming Soon" Indian restaurant - also on Hacks Cross - was being opened by the long-lost waiter and his family. Did that mean the Andhra chicken curry would soon be back in his life? You bet it did. When Curry Bowl opened this summer, he was there within 2 weeks of its opening to partake in its splendor.

He has been there numerous times in the past few months, as have my mother and brother, but I somehow never made it. For one, I've cut back on my Indian food intake the last few months while I've been training for my race, and I've also been out of town a lot on the weekends, so we never got to meet.

Until yesterday.

Today is my father's birthday [he's 71!], so my mother and I took him out for lunch yesterday. We told him to choose the restaurant, and he chose Curry Bowl. Having never been there, I didn't know what to expect, other than this Andhra chicken curry that I keep mentioning [yes, it's really that good].

Well, I was definitely impressed. The restaurant itself is a nice, clean, open space with a variety of tables and booths and can probably seat about 80-100 people. It's run by a very sweet family who remember repeat customers and really make you feel at home.

And the food.

In addition to the Andhra chicken curry - which I like to mix with the chicken dum biryani and raitha - the vada, aloo gobi, naan, nilgiri chicken, 555 chicken [their take on chicken 65], and gulab jamun were all exceptional. I wish my appetite were bigger, because the veg pulao, daal, curd rice, pickle, and kheer all looked great as well, and if I liked jelabi, I would say it looked pretty good, too. Definitely gets an enthusiastic two thumbs up from me.

And after some perusing of their website and their online menu, I discovered that they serve thalis after 3.30pm. While it hurts my soul to think of spending $15 on a thali, I'm almost desperate enough to do just that. And if the lunch was any indication, the thalis will be pretty awesome.

The deets:
Location: 4141 Hacks Cross, immediately south of where it goes under 385.
Parking: it's in a little shopping center, so there's a parking lot.
Serves: open daily from 8.30am - 10.30pm / breakfast from 8.30am - 10.30am, lunch from 11am - 3pm, thali, dinner, etc. 3.30pm - 10.30pm. lunch is a buffet, everything else is a la carte. they also cater, do to-go orders, and will rent the space for parties or other occasions.
Portion sizes: I have only been for the lunch buffet, so I'm not sure about the portions, but generally at Indian restaurants you can split one curry between two people, so I would assume it's the same.
Prices: the lunch buffet is $9.99 per person during the week and $11.99 per person on the weekends.
Methods of payment: accepts cash and credit.

Definitely go there if you get a chance, and try to see if the owner's granddaughter [she's about 3 or 4] will talk to you. She refuses to speak to my father, but she started spouting off in Telugu to me. Seems like she's pretty cool.
woo pig.

veena's guide to aruba.

My father and I recently got back from a weeklong trip to Aruba to get the brother settled in for school, and I thought I'd share some information in case anyone is planning a trip down there. This is my first attempt at a "travel guide", so bear with me while I work out the kinks.

So first off, where is Aruba?

Aruba is a small island off the northern coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. It was a Dutch colony, so lots of the signs are in partial Dutch and partial Spanish, and there are a lot of young Dutch people working in many of the restaurants.

[image via]
Getting there:

The airport in Aruba [on Aruba? I always get confused when it comes to islands] is called the Reina Beatrix International Airport and is located along Aruba's western coast. We flew US Airways* out of Charlotte, and there are also daily flights from other cities such as New York, Newark, and Miami, as well as some European and South American countries.

*a note if you're flying US Airways: if you're taking the afternoon flight out [around 16.40], there's no fresh food service in economy, only a few snacks for sale leftover from the inbound flight. so eat before you go to the airport.

For when you return:

There are separate check in terminals for USA departures and non-USA departures. The Security Check is the same for all, and once you get to the main concourse, there are a few souvenir shops and duty free shops and eateries as well as the non-USA departure gates.

If you're traveling back to the US, you clear customs and immigration in Aruba itself, so once you leave that main concourse, you are technically back on US soil. You pick up your check-in luggage, go through passport control, and then "re-check" your bags for your flight to the States. The downside is that you cannot return to the other eateries and duty free shops, but there are a few smaller ones located near the USA departure gates. The MAJOR upside is that you don't have to go through all of that hassle once you land back in the States, which saves a lot of time in transit. In Aruba, all of that - from check-in through "customs" - took about 45 minutes, as opposed to the usual hour-and-a-half that it might take here in the States. AND. If you purchase anything in the Duty Free, you can put it into your check-in bags in Aruba itself and save yourself the hassle of having to carry it onto the plane. A pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Where to stay:

We spent the first 5 nights in an apartment at Punto di Oro, a complex that offers short- and long-term rentals. My brother is living there for the year in a one-bedroom suite apartment, and my father and I stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment for the beginning of our stay.
  • the pros:
    • we each had our own bedroom and bathroom, which was nice for the extended stay.
    • we had a full kitchen and refrigerator, so we could bring home leftovers.
    • we had a nice couch and chair and television that gets a number of American channels [as well as some dubbed in Spanish].
    • there's a pool, if you want to swim there.
    • there's also a nice place to sit outside in the evenings to read or have a few drinks and enjoy the breeze.
    • Prekash, the owner, also owns a car rental company, so you can rent a car directly from him for your stay.
    • the price. definitely cheaper than staying in one of the "high-rise hotels".
  • the cons:
    • location. it's close to school, which is why my brother is living there, but it's not close to the beaches or restaurants or attractions, which makes it not an ideal place if that's what you're interested in. you can, however, rent a car through Prekash and drive to those places.
    • there is free wi-fi, but it only really worked on my brother's computer. and it wouldn't keep you logged in, so you had to keep logging in. not the end of the world, but slightly inconvenient.
For the weekend, we treated ourselves and stayed at the Westin resort. We had decided to spend our last few days in a nice hotel, and because Prekash is friends with the manager there, we got our room at a significantly lower rate than what they normally charge.
  • the pros:
    • it's right on the beach. easy access for swimming or laying out or whatever you desire.
    • if you're heading to the beach, you can reserve palapas [chairs under a sort of tree with a table]. and the hotel gives you 2 free towels for beach use that you can trade out for fresh ones throughout the day.
    • all the amenities. restaurants and shops and a spa and a fitness center and even a casino [where I won approximately $30].
    • walking distance to outside shops and restaurants.
    • each room has a nice little balcony with 2 chairs and a small table. very nice for sitting out and enjoying the evening breeze.
    • offers running trails with views of the sea. I went for a run one morning and saw quite a few people - locals and tourists - out as well.
    • what appeared to be a nice swimming pool, if the beach isn't your thing.
    • a playground for kids.
    • very spacious rooms. we had a huge room with a giant king-size bed and a pull-out couch.
    • free wi-fi throughout the hotel.
  • the cons:
    • the cost. I know this is the case with most hotels of this nature, and I also know I am unnecessarily cheap when it comes to these things, but it's kind of ridiculous. we definitely would have stayed elsewhere if not for the discount we received.
    • the hotel's property doesn't include a long stretch of beach, so it gets crowded during the day unless you walk down a bit to the south [there's another resort to the north].
    • breakfast not included. you can order breakfast to your room or eat the breakfast buffet, but you have to pay for those. and the buffet $25 a person. again, I know I'm cheap, but that seems silly to me. give me a hotel with complimentary breakfast and fewer amenities any day of the week.
    • it was missing a few little touches that I guess I expect from a hotel of that quality and reputation.
      • there was space where a mini fridge would go, but there was no fridge.
      • no shower cap in the bathroom. there was shampoo and conditioner and soap and lotion, but no shower cap. I like shower caps.
      • there was no light in the little corner with all the coffee stuff, so it was quite dark.
      • there was no light on the balcony. my father and I were sitting out on Saturday evening, and the weather was beautiful, but I couldn't stay and read because it was getting dark and there was no light. like I said, little things.
There are a number of other "high-rise hotels" [Aruba's term, not mine] that you can also choose from:
These are just the ones I spotted during our outings, and this is definitely not a comprehensive list.

Getting around:

If you're staying in the high-rise hotels and want to do some exploring outside your resort, your options are to either hire a taxi for the day or rent a car. Depending on the length of your stay and how often you plan on doing something outside, you can decide which is the most appropriate for your stay. All of the hotels have car rental places in them [Hertz, Dollar, etc], and there are also some smaller, privately-run car rental places as well. As I mentioned earlier, Prekash, my brother's landlord, has a rental company called All Drive Car Rental, but he might be inconvenient depending on where you stay. I noticed a few other independent car rentals during our wanderings amongst shops as well.

Eating. my favourite:

While we didn't do most of the touristy things on offer whilst in Aruba, we did do some good eating. The following are some of the restaurants we tried. FYI, eating in Aruba is EXPENSIVE.

Salt + Pepper. a really good tapas bar located across from the high-rise hotels. the garlic shrimp tapas were especially tasty. and they have daily specials, of which my brother tried one [I can't remember which], and I tried the grouper, which was very good.

tandoor. one of the 2 [that we know of] Indian restaurants on the island, located across from the high-rise hotels. we went Monday night for dinner and again the following Saturday for the lunch buffet. all the food was really good, the sweet lassi was great, and the kulfi was some of the best I've had at a restaurant. the owner was super nice, as was all the staff, and we really enjoyed both our experiences there.

Taj Mahal. the other Indian restaurant, which is owned by the same guy. located in the downtown area behind one of the malls. we went for lunch, and since there is no buffet, we ordered off the menu. they offer lunch specials, and my father and brother both ordered the masala dosa, which was HUGE. and it came with 2 idlis. I had the pav bhajji, and it was really good. it's not something I often order outside of India - I'm picky - and I was rather impressed. and apparently they also will deliver the lunch specials to offices and colleges and the like.

fishes & more. an awesome seafood place across from the high-rise hotels. I had one of the shrimp main dishes [wish I could remember the name!] with some roasted vegetables, and it was great. super tasty and quite spicy, so of course I liked it. my brother had the spicy shrimp starter, which was similar and also really good, and my brother and father both enjoyed their crab cakes. my father did not like his Dutch pea soup, but my brother and I both knew he wouldn't, so I don't know that it's anything against the soup, or just my father's eating preferences. but seeing that he didn't like the soup, our very sweet waitress didn't charge us for it. so that was pretty nice.

Dutch Pancakehouse. talk about yum located in the little strip of shops and restaurants near the Renaissance hotel downtown, they specialize in poffertjes, which are Dutch mini-pancakes that you can order with a variety of toppings. at the suggestion of the waiter, I went with cinnamon, and it was delicious. in addition to the powdered cinnamon, they were covered in powdered sugar and powdered chocolate, and the combination was killer. I went with the "small" order, and it was the perfect amount for me. this and fishes & more would probably be my top 2 recommendations for eating.

Taco Bell / Dunkin' Donuts / Baskin Robbins. oh yeah, in addition to all the seafood places and Dutch places, you can also find all of the regular American fast-food staples. we got breakfast from DD a few times, ice cream from BR once, and I had lunch from T-Bell once. Taco Bell was actually the one place that was cheaper than in the US. go figure.

JH Yee's Asian Bistro. located across from the high-rise hotels in the same complex as tandoor. my father and brother went there for lunch one day and brought me their leftovers, and it was really good, especially the fried rice.

the Plaza Cafe. another one in the strip next to the Renaissance hotel downtown. I stopped in for breakfast one morning after a swim while the brother and father were still exercising. I had the "American style breakfast", and while I was disappointed that they couldn't do poached or boiled eggs, the fried egg was alright. the bacon was very good, though.

the Terrace. one of the restaurants at the Westin where we had lunch on Friday afternoon. the outdoor seating is really nice, although I imagine sitting in the sun could be brutal in the middle of the afternoon. nice selection of wraps and sandwiches, and the Caribbean Jerk Chicken in a spinach wrap was particularly good. oh, and so was the jalapeno cornbread that my brother ordered. my father had the seafood chowder, and it was great. and I am not generally known as a fan of chowder. so that was impressive.

Dushi Bagels and Burgers & Burgers. great, great place. located right in front of the Playa Linda resort. we stopped in for dinner one night, and we had a great time. our waitress was super nice, and the food was awesome. my brother had one of the signature burgers, and he nearly licked his plate clean. I had a shrimp caesar salad, and I finished every last bite.

there were two - Smokey Joe's and the Paddock - that I really wanted to try, but we ran out of time. and also the line at Smokey Joe's was down the street. but both looked really good. if anyone makes it to either, let me know how they are!

Things to do:

While we did not take part in all of the activities Aruba has to offer, we did learn about quite a number of them. If you try any of these, let me know how they are.

De Palm Tours. De Palm organizes a number of tours around the island for visitors and also has a private island just off the coast of the island that you can visit for the day to swim and relax on a private beach. from what I read, it's especially ideal for families with small children, as they have a nice playground for kids, but otherwise it's overpriced for those who are already staying at resorts on the beach.

Arikok National Park. one of the places I really wanted to visit but didn't get a chance to. I'm a sucker for parks and trails and places to wander, so it was kind of a bummer to miss out on this one, but I guess that just means I'll have to make another trip. open daily from 8am - 4pm. tickets are $10 per person, or you can get a yearly pass for $28. if you're going to be there for an extended period of time, it could be worth it to get a yearly pass and then make a number of visits to explore. and children 17 and below are free.

the beaches. there are a number of swimming and non-swimming beaches all around the island. I found the descriptions on the Frommer's website to be really helpful. all the beaches are technically public, but some of the resorts might charge you if you use their palapas or chairs.

the malls. we wandered through one mall in the downtown area and one mall at the end of the high-rise hotels, but we didn't do any real shopping in them. for one, they have a lot of high-end stores, and for another, we didn't really need anything. but my father can't resist a good mall. and if you need something to do on one of Aruba's rare rainy days, they'd be good places to hang out. oh, and the one downtown offers free wi-fi.

the casinos. all of the high-rise hotels have casinos on their properties, and most also include a sports book where you can wager on any number of sporting events from college football to horse racing and everything in between. in addition, we found one casino and sports book downtown near the Renaissance hotel that we popped into before heading to see a movie one night. we got there around 6.30pm, and the table games don't start until 7, so my dreams of winning big at blackjack were dashed. I did try out the slots, though, and won my first officially $4.80 since turning 21. it was pretty exciting.

movie theaters. we went to see Elysium in the theater downtown, and I also noticed one in the mall near the high-rise hotels. both were playing new releases, and at the one downtown, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, there is a deal where if you buy 2 tickets, you get a third one free. so for 3 of us to see the movie, it cost $14. I wish cinemas in the States would jump on that bandwagon. the theater itself was pretty small and could seat maybe 100 people, but it wasn't crowded at all, and it was pretty clean.

souvenir shopping. as with any self-respecting tourist destination, there is no end to the amount of souvenirs available for purchase. keychains, jewelry, mugs, t-shirts, bags, and knickknacks are all on display in small carts and in larger shops. the fun twist is that in addition to island fare, you can also find some of the cute ceramic windmills and Dutch houses that you get in Amsterdam or if you fly KLM. it was a neat little paradox.

Now, this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the places to eat or stay or things to do on the island. It's only my small snapshot. If it proves useful for even one person, I'd say that's pretty cool.

Enjoy your travels, wherever they may take you!
woo pig.

1/2 marathon monday: holy 9 miles, batman.


Monday: 4mi run. I ran a faster pace, and although I had to pause my run once around the 2.7 mark, I still felt pretty good about it.

Tuesday: 15-minute NTC Get Focused Sculpted Arms and 15-minute Shaped Back workout. my arms definitely got a good workout with these two. I've had a crick in my neck since Little Rock, and these strained it a bit, but otherwise they were alright.

Wednesday: 1.75mi up-tempo run. slept an extra 15 minutes in the morning since it was a short run, and I felt so good. ran my first mile with a slower pace and then ran the last .75 fast. it felt good to get in a longer sprint, and I was in a really good mood at the end of it.

Thursday & Friday: were supposed to be a 45-minute NTC workout and a 15-minute NTC workout respectively, but because of the stiffness in my neck, I called it a day and skipped the workouts so as to not strain it further. the crick is slowly getting better, and I didn't want to risk making it worse all over again.

Saturday: 9mi run. and what a great run it was. the weather was awesome and cool, and I took it as a sign to get out and tackle the longest run in the history of my life. I was nervous leading up to it since I had missed my two previous long runs, but the cool weather really put me in a good frame of mind for the run. I kept up a pace that I was happy with, my Gu Chomps kept up my energy, and I felt really good with myself for getting through it. Did I have more miles in me? Sure. Did I have 4 more miles in me? Probably not. But I've still got 5 weeks to get there, and after Saturday's run, I'm feeling pretty good about my chances for San Francisco.

you know those "hills" I keep talking about?

I am well aware that the inclines in my parents' neighbourhood are nothing compared to the hills I will encounter in San Francisco, but they're better than nothing. I've been exploring a little more around the neighbourhood and discovering a few new inclines, and I realized on my latest long run that I have a tendency to drag my feet when I'm going uphill, which is something I need to work on in the future. note to self: those high knee runs are actually useful.

this weekend calls for 11 miles. wish me luck.
woo pig.

15 September 2013

the joy project: week thirty-four.

Sunday: slept in. saw the Mama Eastham off on her journey. back to Memphis.

Monday & Tuesday: hung out with the mother. watched a lot of Law & Order: SVU.

Wednesday: slept and slept and slept after my early morning run.

Thursday: lunch with the mother at Gus's Fried Chicken. made my tummy so very happy. picked up some Rhodes swag for a wee little one who will be making her appearance next month.

Friday: didn't do a whole lot, but got to spend the whole day with my mother, which was pretty nice.

Saturday: house to myself. 9mi run. Razorback victory. long afternoon nap on the couch. Rhodes night at the Levitt Shell. ran into my favourite Dr Wigginton. good Saturday.

it was kind of a slow week around the Rangaswami household, but it was nice to get to spend so much time with my mother while she was home.
woo pig.

12 September 2013

memphis eats: gus's fried chicken.

Today, my mother and I had lunch at Gus's Fried Chicken. And when I say Gus's, I mean the Gus's. The only one. The one on Front Street. For me, it's still the only one that exists. I'm a Memphis purist that way.

But anyway. Our lunch at Gus's.

Gus's is a Memphis institution. Like all self-respecting Memphis restaurants, it's a bit shady-looking and a bit run-down. And also like all self-respecting Memphis restaurants, it doesn't pretend to be anything more than it is.

So what is it, exactly? Well, it's the best fried chicken in the city. It's some pretty darn good baked beans. It's some awesome seasoned fries. And it's hands-down one of my favourite places in Memphis.

My general go-to at Gus's is the 2 piece dark meat plate, which comes with a thigh and a leg, baked beans, slaw, and 2 pieces of white bread. Depending on who I'm with, I'll trade out the slaw and substitute it for something else [usually mashed potatoes], but since my mother likes slaw, I just shared it with her. She had a breast piece and a side of baked beans, and we shared a medium basket of the seasoned fries. My favourite part of fried chicken is obviously the skin, and theirs is fantastic.

Throughout our lunch, I just kept saying over and over to my mother, "My stomach is so happy right now". I don't get down to my downtown and Midtown restaurants as often as I'd like, since we live so far east, so it's always a bit of a treat to get back to one of my classics.

The deets:
Location: on Front Street just south of Beale in downtown Memphis.
Parking: street parking wherever you can find it. be sure to pay attention to the No Parking signs.
Serves: lunch and dinner.
Portion sizes: pretty big. there was a day not so long ago when I could finish 2 pieces of chicken, 2 sides, and the 2 slices of bread without blinking. my appetite these days is a little less than what it once was, so even that is a bit much for me.
Prices: very reasonable. I want to say the 2 piece dark meat plate was around $8. our total bill - including 2 drinks and 2 breast pieces that we packed for my father - was $22, which is pretty good considering that fed 3 adults.
Methods of payment: accepts cash and credit.

And did I mention the cups are souvenirs that you get to take home? A pretty good deal, if you ask me.
woo pig.

10 September 2013

1/2 marathon monday: getting back into the groove.

this week was back to the grind, and it felt really good.


Monday: 3.5mi run. I slept in because of our long journey Sunday night, but when I woke up I knew I still wanted to get my run in, so I set out around 9am. usually my runs start around 6, and I could definitely feel the difference in the heat. I had to pause my run a few times and walk a bit, but I finished it. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into my rhythm.

Tuesday: 45-minute NTC Get Toned Intermediate Stinger workout. that's right, we've entered the Intermediate workouts. this one had some new exercises that I hadn't done before, so those took some getting used to, but overall it was a good workout. I still don't really like those "push away balance" things, but luckily they don't show up too often. I also broke out my new medicine ball [6 lbs! watch out, world] and am glad I decided to go ahead and get the heavier one. who knows, maybe one day I'll be ready for one of those 8lb-ers...

Wednesday: 5mi run. got back to my early morning runs, and it paid off. my pace was definitely a lot slower than I would have liked, but the bottom line is that I finished the run, so I'll take my small victories. and the awesome early morning weather definitely helped. it was downright chilly when I left my house at 5.50am, and I was so very thankful.

Thursday: originally supposed to be a 30-minute stretching session, but because I attended Britney's work event, I counted our 2-mile walk to and from the Big Dam Bridge as my workout.

Friday & Saturday: didn't get my runs in. the Eastham house is out on Highway 10, and there are no good sidewalks or running paths out there. I saw a few people just running on the road, but I wasn't quite ready for that. so once again, I missed my long run. this Saturday's 9-miler is going to be a big wake-up call.

in other news...

I got a new pair of running shoes! bit the bullet, went to the mall, and got some new kicks. took them for a run yesterday, and they felt pretty good.

like I said, I've missed my last two long runs. I'm in town this weekend, I have no distractions, and I'm determined to fight through the 9 miles that are looming in the distance. I'm thinking I might hit up Shelby Farms for my run, but we'll also see what kind of mood I'm in come Saturday morning.

woo pig.

the joy project: week thirty-three.

Back to the "real" world.

Sunday: after a delay in Charlotte, finally made it back to Memphis just after midnight on Monday.

Monday: slept in after Sunday's long journey.

Tuesday: slowly settling into being the only child at home again. ran some errands. enjoyed having the house to myself in the evening while the parents went to a movie.

Wednesday: spent the day cleaning my room, finishing up Chuck [not entirely happy with how it ended, if I'm being honest], and watching the tennis.

Thursday: got a new pair of running shoes. lunch at Genghis Grill. off to Little Rock for the weekend! arrived in time for Britney's work event for National Hunger Month.

Friday: met with Stephanie about some job stuff. Slim Chickens for lunch. hung out with the Brothers Eastham.

Saturday: baby shower for Lindso and the Muffin. tailgate. took Bee to her first Arkansas football game [thank you for the tickets, Mr and Mrs Aburrow!]. Slim Chickens for dinner complete with peach fried pie and a free drink. Razorbacks victory. AHA reunion party. it was a good Saturday.

love any week that involves tennis, football, Slim Chickens, and family reunions.
woo pig.

02 September 2013

1/2 marathon monday: the lost week.


hahahahahahahahahaha. that's funny.

so. when we got to Aruba on Sunday, I had every intention of getting up and running on Monday morning. I figured I'd explore my brother's neighbourhood a bit and get in some exercise.

and then I slept. and I slept. and I slept some more. I guess between the 7 weeks of training and the early morning flights on Sunday, I was done. so I took Monday off. and then I took Tuesday off. and then I decided that I was on holiday, and it was ok to take some time off and give my body a rest. I got in a swim on Thursday, and I "ran" and swam on Saturday morning, so I'm calling that a win.

so no, I did not complete my 8-mile run on Saturday. and I didn't do any of the workouts. and you know what? it's going to be ok. I'll get back on my training plan this week, I'll get back on my eating plan [kind of. I'm going to Little Rock on Thursday], and I'll be fine.

never underestimate the power of the Aruban sun:

from our hotel, there were "running paths" that went in either direction. if you turned left, the trail went for about 1.5 miles, making for a 3mi round trip. if you turned right, it was about 2.5 miles, for a 5mi round trip. I wasn't sure how much I wanted to run on Saturday, so I decided to go for the longer path and then turn back when I felt I needed to.

the "path" I mention was a combination of footpaths, gravel, loose sand trails, and some patches where you just had to run on the side of the road. all of that, however, was way more manageable than dealing with the heat. admittedly, I went for my run a bit later than I would have liked - around 8.15am or so - so the sun had been up for a few hours. what I did not anticipate, though, was the lack of shade on the path. I was running alongside the sea, so there was a breeze, but I was also running in direct sunlight. on top of that, I think I was so excited to be running [never thought that would happen], I went a little too fast out of the gait and wore myself out. between the too-fast pace, the sun, and the lack of other strenuous exercise for a week, it was tough. I did a combo running and walking for about 4 miles, but by the end I could only run for about 1.5 songs before needing to walk again. at about the 3 mile marker, I passed a refreshment stand on one of the beaches, and they had a water fountain, which definitely saved me. I learned my lesson about tempting the sun in Aruba, and the next time I go to visit the brother, I'm either running at 6.30am or 6.30pm. that in-between time is for swimming or reading or napping.

looking ahead:

this week is going to be a little tough as well, with my trip to LR, but I think all the days I'm gone are running days, so I'll just have to run in the neighbourhood there. it'll be nice to have a change of scenery; I'm getting super bored of my parents' neighbourhood.

I'm going to need a new pair of running shoes before my race, so I'm looking to get them in the next week or so to break them in properly. I discovered on the nike website that I can custom-design my own shoes, and they'll deliver them to me in 3-4 weeks. I'm going to check a few places tomorrow and Wednesday, and then decide on whether to pick up a pair in-store or order the sweet magenta / teal / green ones I designed today.

after a bit of pushing from my father, I finally booked my tickets to San Francisco. thank you, Delta SkyMiles, for sponsoring my ticket :)

I need to also order some Clif Shot Bloks to see how I like them, as they will be at the aid stations on race day. lots to do this week.

and that's that. hopefully next week's update will contain a lot more actual training.
woo pig.

the joy project: week thirty-two. or, as i like to call it, the aruba edition.

Sunday: early morning to catch our flight to Charlotte and then on to Aruba. yummy dinner at a tapas bar called Salt + Pepper.

Monday: slept and slept and slept. went to bed around 9pm Sunday night, woke up briefly at 9.30am Monday, back in bed by 10am, and eventually emerged at 2pm. and it was some of the best sleep I've had in ages. dinner at one of the 2 Indian restaurants on Aruba.

Tuesday: in the process of turning my old Nokia over to the brother, I got to read through some old messages that are still saved on there. oh, the Bangalore memories from 2008-2011... awesome shrimp for dinner at Fishes & More.

Wednesday: yummy poffertjes [Dutch mini-pancakes] covered in powdered sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon for breakfast. found a "beach" to wade in for a bit while father and brother finished their breakfast. visited a casino for the first time since turning 21 and won $1.60 on the slots. I'm rich. saw Elysium in the cinema. rounded out the day with Haagen Dazs for dinner.

Thursday: went swimming in my private little swimming hole. so very nice to be in the sea again.

Friday: checked into the Westin for the weekend. spicy jerk chicken wrap for lunch. went for a walk along the beach. won $7 at the slot machines. attempted roulette [that $5 minimum is a bit steep for me...]. shrimp caesar salad for dinner and Baskin-Robbins for dessert.

Saturday: went for a run and then a nice leisurely swim in the sea. stuffed our faces at the Tandoor lunch buffet. opening Saturday of college football!

we had ourselves a nice little week, and I will do a proper travel guide [Veena-style] on Aruba either this week or next.
woo pig.