Saturday, March 31, 2012

3X Thanks: Half Marathon Results, NYPL, and Surprise Sale

Day 2 of my 21 days of posting three thankful thoughts.

  • Winning first place in my age group at the E Murray Todd Half Marathon last month. I guess I should say I'm grateful that the woman who actually ran the fastest in my age group placed fifth overall and was therefore removed from the age group rankings . . . giving me first place!

    Results for this race:

    Race Length Finishing Time 5/10 mile Splits Average Pace Overall Place Age Group Place (F25-29)
    13.1 miles 1:35:58 37:12/36:46 7:20/mile 111/629 1/33

  • New York Public Library. Without access to this incredible library system, I'd either be choosing from the crummy selection available at the Jersey City library or personally financing Barnes & Nobles' financial recovery.

  • 20% off sale at Loehman's. Sales are always nice, and surprise sales are even nicer! This one enabled me to replace two of my ratty crewneck blouses, so I can start going to work again without yellow armpit stains. Hurrah!
  • Friday, March 30, 2012

    Project Warm Fuzzy: 3x Daily Thanks

    Inspired by a podcast I heard recently (TED Talk The Happy Secret to Better Work), I am starting a new task: for the next month, I will blog, journal, or otherwise write down three things for which I am grateful, every day.

    Day One

  • Having a short torso and long legs. I used to hate how this ratio made me look in certain clothing, but I've grown to love how it allows me to be tall but to still fit better as the "little spoon."
  • Remembering last night's dream. It makes the first few hours after waking up infinitely more interesting!
  • The freedom to read whatever I want when I come home from work. I dearly missed pleasure-reading while I was in college, and as much as I wanted to work for a commercial publisher after graduating, I can't say I miss reading slush piles in my spare time.
  • Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    Hot Yoga Thought

    For those of you unfamiliar with hot yoga (also known as "bikram"), let me explain the basic goals of a class:

    Task 1) Stay inside a room that is kept at 105 degrees Fahrenheit for 1.5 hours.

    Task 2) Breathe only through your nose for the entire class.

    Task 3) Bend your body into unnatural shapes using muscles you never knew existed.

    Task 4) Try not to drink water.

    Task 5) . . . don't pass out.

    Over the last few months, I have attended hot yoga classes a number of times, and I can tell you from experience that it doesn't get easier with practice. You may be able to stretch and extend farther in the poses, but it never ever feels easier.

    Some days you feel like you're going to faint from heat and exhaustion the moment you walk in the room. Other days, you breathe smoothly and have no problem standing through all 12 poses (you stand/balance for 12 poses and then sit/lay down for 14 poses). Occasionally you can trace your bodily sensations back to sleep or diet, but most of the time, how you feel is simply . . . how you feel.

    Whatever kind of day you're having, however, you're always going to feel hot and sweaty. Period.

    Now, I understand that the purpose of yoga is to meditate, to focus one's attention inward. However, I'm human, a competitive human, so I sometimes can't help letting my eyes roam across the mirrors in front of me to see how others are doing.

    The level of performance differs from class to class, as does the demographic. There are only two constants: the average age of any class probably lands somewhere in the late 20s, and if someone is going to "fail" the practice, it will be a man.

    There is no real definition of "failing" a hot yoga practice, so I will tell you what I think qualifies:

    1. Trying to leave the room. Newcomers are told repeatedly that regardless of how they feel throughout the class, they must stay in the room; it is healthier for their bodies, and the abrupt change of temperature will actually make them feel worse if they leave.
    2. Sitting or laying in a non-yoga pose, panting through the mouth. Newcomers are told repeatedly that it is normal to feel overheated or woozy. If the sensation is too much, they are told to stand still and breathe. If that is too much, they should sit down on their knees or cross-legged. If even that is too much, they should lie on their back with their legs together, arms at their sides, head to the front of the room and feet to the rear. At all times, they should take small sips of air through the nose. As the instructor repeats time and time again, breathing through the mouth will actually make them feel hotter.
    3. Requiring the teacher to come to their aid. This can mean the teacher escorts them back to their mat if they try to leave the room, pours water on their pulse points to cool them down, or otherwise attends to them considerably more than anyone else in class in a way that does not advance their yoga practice.

    I would very much like to be more sympathetic toward these men, but they are almost always young, physically fit specimens who look like they could lift a 50 lb. dumbbell with their ring finger. When I see them outwardly displaying the same suffering I feel, I like to imagine that the girl on the mat next to them is their girlfriend, and that after class she'll shake her head and say, "See? And you said yoga wasn't exercise."

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Snapshot book review: State of Wonder

    State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    State of Wonder is a novel that defies genres. The story is part scientific mystery (what actually happened to Dr. Eckman? why is Dr. Swenson so secretive about her drug development?), part action novel (malaria-induced fevers, deadly anacondas, emergency surgeries, and other terrors of the Brazilian rainforest), but Patchett writes it in the style of a character study, focusing on the thoughts and emotions of protagonist Marina.

    My only major qualm are Patchett's Faulkner-esque length paragraphs. With so much detail packed into each sentence and paragraph, it is difficult for the reader to maintain meticulous attention to each word when her paragraphs span three-quarters of a page or more--especially when a character is being squeezed to death by a boa constrictor or some other equally exciting event is happening. Pick up the pace! Get me to "what happens next"!

    Despite that one stylistic grievance, this is a very entertaining, even thought-provoking read that will appeal to all sorts of readers. It would make a great book club read.

    View all my reviews

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Why Running is Better

    After a frustrating attempt to work out yesterday, I put together this little angst-y slideshow. Feel free to comment and agree/disagree--these are merely a few of my sentiments about what I see as an elitist and frequently frustrating sport. (In case you're confused, the terms "elitist" and "frustrating" are not referring to running.)

    Press the > button to advance the slides.