December 1, 2017

Everything I Read in November

I've always been one to finish every book I've started. I have always felt that the book deserves a chance or that I'm so invested, I might as well just finish.

Lately, I'm moving away from that. Life is just too short and there are too many good books out there to read the bad ones. I've written almost every month that this has been a weird year for books for me. I haven't really read anything I've loved and, in fact, I've really disliked most of the books I've read this year. So, I've taken to giving up on books. I've done that 3 or 4 times this year, twice this month. 

As a result, I've only finished two books this month. Take a look:

"The Trespasser" by Tana French - I read "In the Woods" earlier this year, the first in French's Dublin Murder Squad series (which don't need to be read in any kind of order) and picked up her newest book before I headed to London. Another murder mystery, I found myself drawn to the story and slowly figuring out who the murderer might be along with the detectives, which is how I like a murder mystery to unfold, but this book desperately needed an Epilogue of some sort. The case was solved but leaving several more questions than answers and I finished the book really needing those answers to be solved. I felt the same way about "In the Woods." Her books seem to end when the detectives have solved the mystery rather than going a little bit further. "In the Woods" did go a bit further but again, still left a lot of lingering questions. Overall, I would give this book 3 stars. 

"China Dolls" by Lisa See - Lisa See wrote "Snowflower and the Secret Fan," one of my all-time favorite books so I was excited to read her newest book about three Chinese-American girls who meet in San Francisco and pursue careers in entertainment. This book dealt with a lot of heavy stuff - the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the targeting of Japanese (and Chinese) people, as a result, the racism that followed, and a lot of other topics, but I really hated the characters. There was so much betrayal in this book, it felt a little bit like "Mean Girls" but with much heavier subjects, which I really didn't like. Again, I would give it 3 stars.

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng - Full disclosure: I haven't finished this book. This is the Beyond Words Book Club pick this month and Carolann and I were discussing it the other night, and I told her I didn't plan to finish it. I'm not sure if this is still true. This book touched on a topic that I'm really sensitive about right now and I really didn't want to continue reading once I hit that. I did manage to get a little bit further into the book and I can't believe how wildly vindictive the characters in this book are. They're so unlikeable and it seems like everyone is out to get everyone. Set in Shaker Heights, OH, which is meant to be this idealist, utopian town (which Ng reminds you of every 5 pages), the book follows a mother-daughter outsider duo who move into the town and get involved with the oh-so-perfect Richardson family, which it seems like will have devastating consequences because of Elena Richardson's vindictiveness. Again, I haven't finished it but given that the book jacket says, "Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs," I think it's pretty obvious that that will be catastrophic. So far, 2 stars. 

I'm desperate for good book recommendations, especially with a week off coming up at the end of December! If you have any, please share! I promise I'm not a harsh critic - this has just been a weird year for me picking all the wrong things to read!

If you're part of Beyond Words (or want to be!), next month, our link up will be about your best reads of 2017 (mine will be a short list!) and I hope you'll join! We'll pick back up with our picks in January and the poll is open now! You can vote or suggest books to either of us at any time!

As always, happy reading!

November 27, 2017

Race Recap: Annapolis Running Classic

Last week, I headed up to Annapolis, MD with my friend Alicia for the Annapolis Running Classic. I had signed up for the Half after a really rough summer without a lot of running and a real need to try to get back into running.

The race started at 7:30 am at the Navy Memorial Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy. I was surprised to see how small the race was and lined up around the 2:15 pacer. I wasn't actually going for time but I thought that 2:15 was what I could reasonably expect to run.

The race started and the first mile of the course was pretty nondescript. The first mile marker came up pretty quickly though. There was a water station and I grabbed a cup and kept running. I wasn't watching my pace but I felt pretty good. I passed the 2:15 pace group pretty early on and thought I'd be happy to stay ahead of them through the race.

In the 2nd mile, we went over a pretty small bridge and by the time we crossed it, my knee was feeling pretty sore. I changed up my form a little bit using some PT tricks I had learned a few years ago and kept running. We made it into downtown Annapolis which was really pretty to run through! Right at Mile 3, there was another water station but it only had two volunteers and they didn't have any cups out. I found that pretty frustrating and skipped the station. My knee was still twinging and I started to worry about finishing the distance. At Mile 4, we went over the same bridge we had gone over in the second mile and my knee really started to stiffen up. The more I ran, the more it was locking up. There was another water station but this one only had one volunteer and again - no cups out.

I've always had trouble running over bridges because they don't have as much "give" to them as streets and this race was proving to be tough. By the time I hit Mile 5, I knew I was in bad shape. My knee was so stiff and it was really hurting. I hadn't had pain like that all through my training cycle but I definitely had pain like that through the GW Parkway Classic and I had to start walking by Mile 8. I really didn't want to have to walk half of this race, so at Mile 5, I made the decision to drop down to the 10k. The turnaround was at about the 5 1/2 mile marker so it was easy to drop down. As I ran toward Mile 6, I knew I made the right decision. I sprinted through the finish as best as I could but my knee was in bad shape.

I got my medal for the 10k and stuck around to watch the first half-marathon finisher come through and then made my way to the Runner's Village for some oysters, bagels, bananas, and tomato soup - a post-run feast!

I was pretty disappointed with this course overall - water stations with minimal volunteers and no water? It was a cold day out but that wasn't ok in my book! The finish line festival made up for it but I'm not sure if I would return to this course - especially after what happened with my knee.

It took about four days for my knee to start to feel better and I went and got a massage this weekend to work things out and that wasn't pleasant. I'm not really sure whether I'm going to do much about this though - I think I'll just work on building glute strength, which I know is the source of all of my IT band issues and hope it works itself out. I already mentioned that I won't be training for any long distances next year so I'm hoping the added yoga and strength I build from that will solve this problem once and for all!

Have you ever dropped distances in a race?

November 15, 2017

Annapolis Half-Marathon Training: Race Week

Good Morning! 

It's Race Week! 

This Saturday, I'll be toeing the line of the Annapolis Half-Marathon. I'm pretty excited! It's been a while since I've raced and I really miss it. 

I'm not going into this race as well trained as I would have liked. When I signed up, I knew that I had three straight weeks of travel toward the end of training but I backed up my training schedule enough to be able to get all of my training runs in with the idea of having a long taper.

And then I got the flu, which derailed everything.

I did manage to get in an 8-mile long run while I was in Seattle but aside from a couple of 3-mile runs in London and since I've been home, that's the only running I've done in the last two weeks.

At least I'm well rested?

I never had goals for this race. In fact, I needed this race more for the training aspect of it than the finish line. But I'm now realizing that I wish I had been able to train for a PR, or at least a strong finish because I think it will be my last long distance race for a while. I've been thinking a lot about running lately and my goals for next year and I think I want to scale back the long distance running and focus on strength, flexibility, and speed. I've never been a flexible person but lately, it's starting to alarm me just how much flexibility I've lost.

For now, though, I'm just going to toe the line, put one foot in front of the other, try not to be too cold, and have fun out there! There will be oysters at the finish line, so that's a pretty good motivation right there!

Do you have a fall race coming up?

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