My first full: Week nine

I spend a lot of time thinking about a spot on Fall Creek Parkway. It’s just before College if you’re headed northeast. There’s nothing really noteworthy there and it certainly doesn’t give pause to the thousands of cars who drive past it every day on their commute. But that spot is always lingering in the back of my mind.

This seemingly inconsequential spot is located in mile seven of the Monumental course and it’s where the full and half marathon split. For the last three years when I reached this spot, I stayed to the left to continue onto 29th Street. I looked to my right and was simultaneously in awe of everyone doing the full while also thinking 19 more miles was just dumb. After the split, I settled in with my people – the half crazy people.

This November, however, I’ll stay to the right. I don’t know what I’ll be thinking when I look to my left. I’ll hope that 19 more miles seems slightly less dumb by then. And I’ll settle in with my new people – the full crazy people.

It’s a little surreal to think about but I’m feeling really good about my training and where I’m at right now physically and mentally. These next two months will be the true test as my long runs start to get extra long. But I’m a big nerd who’s itching for that first run that’s over 13 miles where I’ll step into new territory, literally.

Some stats to date:

  • Weeks completed: 8 of 18
  • Number of runs / total miles: 31 / 150
  • Number of crossfit workouts: 15
  • Most interesting run: Five morning miles with my running pen pal – a customer of ours who was in town for an event we hosted. Runner up: Doing 13 miles as a training run and not for a race. That’s always been the end goal but now it’s just a step along the way.

See on my runs:

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One of these legs is not like the other

After my long run last week, I was feeling a little something in my right calf and ankle. It wasn’t outright pain and it didn’t hurt to walk or run. But something was going on and I didn’t want to risk it developing further. I scheduled an appointment with my girl Sara Hemmick at Myo-Fit.

Sara is a member of my crossfit gym and has a Master’s in Kinesiology. She uses her hands, elbows and various torture tools to dig into your muscles and work out all the kinks. It’s total pain cave, hurts so good stuff and I love it. She’s worked on me a few times (mainly my back) and knows about my whole fitness journey so she can really tailor our sessions.

As she was assessing things, she didn’t find anything wrong but she pointed out that my right leg is longer than my left leg and probably bearing more weight with each step. She did some work on my left hip to loosen it and stretch out that leg. By the end of the appointment, my legs were the same length.

I would highly recommend you check her out if you have any kinks, pain, etc. She is based out of our crossfit gym but you don’t have to be a member or do crossfit to schedule an appointment. I’ll probably see her once more before the race and then potentially the week after depending on how my recovery is going.

Follow my journey to my first full! Previous updates: Week one, Week five.

The True Cost

Take a look at the shirt you have on. How much did it cost? I’ve got on a basic tee that was probably part of a 3 for $25 deal at Target or Old Navy. But I have no idea what the shirt really cost in the grander sense.

My friend Julia runs the Fair for All blog and hosted a screening of and discussion about the documentary The True Cost. I was so moved by the film that I immediately came home and dumped out a bunch of thoughts into this post. There’s so much more I could write but I highly encourage you to watch the full documentary, streaming on Netflix and also available for purchase.

From their site, this film is “a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. [This documentary] pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?”

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Great, one more thing I have to consider before spending my money.” It takes a lot of time and effort to be an educated consumer. Understanding how companies operate, what they do with their profits, how they treat their workers, and what values they put into practice can be tough and overwhelming. For example, I actively avoid a company who is outspoken about donating its profits to pray-the-gay-away organizations but turn around and buy clothes without considering the factory workers in Bangladesh who barely make any money and work in some of the most inhumane conditions. I am equally for human rights as I am against bigotry, but it’s hard to factor all the things into all the decisions I make every day as a consumer.

There’s also an environmental component that I was admittedly oblivious to. The film reported that clothing is second only to oil as the most polluting industry in the world. Part of this is chemical – toxins dumped into water sources, synthetic products that don’t break down, etc. But part of it is physical – a culture of waste we’ve developed where it’s a social faux pas to wear the same outfit twice, where you buy a skirt you don’t really need because it’s only $10, where you throw out pants that have a tear in them instead of patching them up, where only 10% of clothing donated to thrift stores is actually resold.

Another aspect that shocked me: Cotton, which represents nearly half of the fiber used to make clothing, is now being genetically modified with various chemicals, pesticides and insecticides. There’s been a significant shift in the food industry to eating organic and avoiding genetically modified food. We care more now than ever about what we put into our bodies, but what about on them? The skin is the largest organ in the body and the clothes we wear are potentially carriers of these chemicals.

One cotton farmer in Texas who was interviewed in the film is pushing to change this. Part of her motivation: Her husband died at the age of 50 from brain tumors the doctors believe were caused by exposure to the chemicals used on their crops. She is now devoted to advancing the organic cotton movement.

And this touches on an interesting framing issue that is slightly off topic but crosses multiple industries and takes me back to one of my graduate classes on language. An apple that grows naturally from a tree shouldn’t have a special label or an asterisk. It should just be an apple. Labels and product names should highlight things that are changed or modified in some way. But major companies on the one side don’t want to call attention to the actions they are taking to modify products. And on the other side, major companies benefit from a cultivated organic lifestyle that attracts customers who are seemingly willing to throw down more money. I haven’t read up much on the effects of genetically modified products, but I firmly believe language has a powerful impact on consumers.

So what’s the solution? There’s not an easy one. But Julia outlined some steps you can take as an individual (copied from her handout at the screening):

  1. Learn more. Find ethical fashion blogs, shopping guides and other resources at fairforallguide.com/resources.
  2. Shop less. The fast fashion industry is driven by the constant consumption of disposable clothing. Buy less, buy only what you love and buy it to last.
  3. Shop smart. Many clothing brands are working to make their supply chains more ethical and transparent while treating workers and the environment with respect. Here are a few to check out: People Tree, Zady, Fair Indigo, Mata Traders, PACT, Liz Alig (Indianapolis-based!).

I would add two more: Get political and get social. There are so many political elements to this issue that I don’t have the space (or energy…) to get into. If you are passionate about this cause, make sure your elected officials know it. And talk to your family and friends about it as well as your social networks. Raising the general awareness of even one other person is positive movement.

I can’t promise that I’ll only shop from fair trade companies moving forward and I’m not even sure how realistic that is at this point. But I know I owe it to those in the clothing industry who are suffering the true cost to be a more educated consumer and make more informed, responsible decisions whenever possible.

Experiencing Austin

I haven’t fallen in love with a lot of someones but I have fallen in love with a lot of somewheres. My latest fling: Austin.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t fall in love with the heat. No place is perfect! While I did my best to glisten a la Ashley Judd in A Time to Kill, I’m convinced it’s impossible to feel sexy when you’re constantly sweating. But the river, the bridges, the cityscape, the rooftop views, the breakfast tacos and the whole “Keep Austin Weird” undertone definitely wooed me.

I was there last weekend for a friend’s birthday. We stayed 15-deep at an Airbnb house that was about a mile from the east end of Sixth Street. The location worked out pretty well and I got to experience so much more of Austin compared to the first time I went for work several years ago.

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The nightlife
Austin is known for its live music scene and the notorious Sixth Street certainly delivered. Similar to Broadway in Nashville, both sides of the street are lined with bars showcasing a wide variety of musicians. We spent a lot of time on the Dirty Sixth end, with some highlights including Easy Tiger (stopped in for a beer but they also bake bread!), Maggie Maes (awesome rooftop deck), Chupacabra Catina ($2 happy hour beer) and The Gatsby (posted up on the balcony overlooking a big back deck and watched a couple bands play).

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The Driskill Hotel is an old timey oasis in the middle of the Dirty Sixth bar hopping scene. The architecture and décor ooze opulence and indulgence. We cozied up in leather barstools and enjoyed some very well-made cocktails.

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On our last night in town, we went to Rainey Street and this is where Austin truly stole my heart. It wasn’t necessarily any less crowded than Dirty Sixth but it had a completely different vibe. Every spot had great outdoor spaces with string lights (I might be slightly obsessed with them…) and good music that you didn’t have to scream over.

I read about Container and it lived up to my expectations and then some. It’s a really cool space that’s built with shipping containers. Bungalow was another solid spot that looks like a regular house from the outside but is gutted and open inside. And we ended the night dancing our asses off at Javelina until last call.

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To experience Austin is to experience Dirty Sixth, yes. But I would highly recommend checking out Rainey Street. And we heard from a few locals that the west end of Sixth Street is developing more and cultivating a somewhat upscale culture.

The eats
To experience Austin is also to eat breakfast tacos and BBQ. Our house was only a few blocks away from Juan in a Million. I tried a migas taco, which has crispy tortilla chips in it, and it was delish! Our group also hit up Salt Lick Bar-B-Que. I don’t get all crazy over BBQ like some people so it was good but not amazing to me.

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My favorite meal though was our first one in town at Stella San Jac. They had the most amazing biscuits and salted butter and my burger with onion straws hit the spot. I have to give a shout out to our waitress Clarissa for handling our huge group. She was a rockstar!

The things to do
One of the coolest – literally – things we did was take a dip in Barton Springs. I’ve been in natural hot springs before but this water runs around 68 degrees. It was heavenly compared to the 100-degree weather we’d been walking around in. It is a bit of a shock to your system when you first get in but so worth it.

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We also went to a Round Rock Express ballgame. The birthday honoree and a lot of the guys on the trip are big baseball fans. I am not. However, I do enjoy the ballpark atmosphere. We sat in a section of rocking chairs and it was really relaxing and a unique experience. I probably could have sat rocking sipping my cold cider shooting the shit with the group forever.

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And if you like all things quirky and eclectic, South Congress is a great place to stroll through. There are boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, restaurants and of course live musicians playing on the street.

The place to run
My training schedule called for nine miles while I was down there and luckily our house was less than a mile from the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. It wraps around the river so you can run almost entirely uninterrupted with spectacular views of the city. I managed to get out the door by 7:30 a.m. but it was already almost 90 degrees by the time I finished. Props to the Austin running community for dealing with that on a daily basis!

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I had a feeling I would love Austin going into the trip but I wasn’t sure what to expect with the group dynamics since I only knew the birthday honoree and his girlfriend. The group was awesome though and I had so much fun. And luckily they’ve traveled together quite a bit so they’ve mastered the balance between group activities and letting people do their own thing.

So, Austin, you’ve got a hold on my heart. Until the next trip at least…

My first full: Week five

“Why are you already training for a race that’s not until November? You’ve got plenty of time!”

I’ve gotten that response from a few people over the last month. If I’ve learned anything from running it’s that you have to put in the time and respect the miles. And 26.2 is a lot of damn miles.IMG_20150706_180051

I’m a month into my training and things are going really well. Having a written training plan definitely helps keep me accountable and on track. I haven’t done it since my first half but a full is new territory so it’s made me feel more comfortable.

This is the most consistently I’ve worked out in a long time and I’m hoping I can keep the momentum going into week five and beyond. My mid-week long-ish run bumps up to 5 miles this week and I have my first double digit run on deck this Saturday.

Some stats to date:

  • Weeks completed: 4 of 18
  • Number of runs / total miles: 15 / 62
  • Number of crossfit workouts: 7
  • Most interesting run: 9 miles on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail in Austin. The views were amazing and I ran almost entirely uninterrupted!

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Some thoughts on running versus crossfit

I have some runner friends who hate crossfit, think it’s dumb and will get you injured. I have some crossfit friends who hate running, think it’s dumb and will get you injured. Meanwhile, I fully believe that I am a better crossfitter because I run and I’m a better runner because I crossfit.

Both require you to listen to and know your body. To understand pacing and how much energy to exert in a shorter workout versus a longer one. To go to a mental place that makes you to keep moving when it would be so, so easy to just stop.  

Both disciplines have given me the confidence to know I can always do more than I think I can – run farther, lift heavier, move faster. And both have amazing communities that are super supportive and play a big role in my life.

It is true that you can’t really go ham in both areas. Doing a WOD with heavy squats, a ton of box jumps or other moves that tax your legs will affect your run the next day. In the same way, running 16 miles will impact your effort in a WOD the next day.

Right now my priority is training for the full. That means scaling back in WODs as needed, being okay with not PRing lifts, choosing running over crossfit if my schedule gets crazy, etc. After my race, I’ll work to maintain my running base but probably switch my focus back to crossfit a little more.

Follow my journey to my first full! Previous updates: Week one.

My first full: Week one

Since the Derby half, I’ve done a pretty decent job at maintaining my running base. May is our craziest month at work but I managed to run a couple times a week, usually 2 – 4 miles at a time. Maintenance mode continued into a super busy June when I squeezed in runs whenever I could, including inadvertently joining a Pride run in Chicago during a 5-miler on the beautiful Lakefront Trail.

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This is the most focus I’ve ever put into maintaining my base that early in the summer. But it’s because of this big, looming, kind of scary but totally exciting thing that’s officially underway now that it’s July: Training for my first full.

I’ve previously written about my freakishly driven personality, part of which involves always looking for the next challenge. It is a little terrifying to think about 26.2 miles but then I remember what it was like training for my first half. At that time, I had never run more than three miles so 13.1 seemed impossible. I found a training plan, gradually built up my mileage and crossed the finish line feeling incredibly proud.

I’ve now done five half marathons and the timing just felt right to step it up and take on a full. (Disclosure: I signed up on January 1 from a flat in London and may have still been drunk from Prosecco-filled NYE celebrations the night before…)

I jump-started my training by running the Firecracker 6 for the first time. It’s a solid course that winds through downtown with multiple water stations. I went out guns blazing with my friend Jill for the first four miles and paid for it in the last two. But I finished in under an hour which was my goal.

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The next day kicked off my training. I adapted one of Hal Higdon’s training plans, aiming for running 3 – 4 days, doing crossfit 2 – 3 days (with Sundays focusing on mobility and/or a light WOD to keep me moving after long run Saturdays) and resting one day each week.

For my first half, I freaked out if I missed a run. I’ve since learned that unless you have no life and also never get sick, there will be days you miss workouts. And it’s okay. The long runs are the most important and I’ll always choose running over crossfit if something has to give. But if I miss a shorter run here and there, I know it won’t ruin me.

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After my first official training run, I called my dad – which is sort of our thing – and he asked if it felt different in any way. It was only three miles, a distance I’ve ran so many times now, and the race is in November so it doesn’t totally feel real yet. But it was exciting!

I’m not going to blog every week but I will provide some training updates periodically for the interested few. I’m anxious for the first time I run farther than 13 miles. For the first time I run double double digits for 20 miles. And of course for the feeling of crossing the finish line! Assuming I make it that far…

 

 

2015 Indy Film Fest Preview

I’ve never understood people who complain about there not being anything to do in Indy or those who compare us to other cities and grumble about things they have that we don’t.

Truth talk: If you’re bored in Indy, you’re doing it wrong.

One of my absolute favorite things in this city is the Indy Film Fest, coming up on July 16 – 25 at the Indiana Museum of Art and IMAX. The organization puts on events throughout the year but these 10 days are some of the best. There are the 100+ films, ranging from comedic shorts to dramatic full-length features. There are the parties (and the after parties). There are the conversations with the filmmakers that give you insight into the creative process. And there are the many shared experiences you’ll be part of as the lights dim in a room full of strangers, all watching the same film but each taking away something different from it.

The list of films selected for this year was released earlier this week. I took a very short, super quick, bookmarked for later scan and here are a few I’m excited about:

  • “Sleeping with Other People” – this film kicks off the festival on opening night. It’s produced by Will Farrell and stars Allison Brie and Jason Sudekis, all of whom I love.
  • “Blood, Sweat and Beer” – as an avid beer drinker (yes, I’m on Untappd) and supporter of local businesses, I’m a big fan of the craft beer scene. This documentary takes an in-depth look at the ups and downs of opening a brewery.
  • “For Grace” – I also have a bit of a fascination with all the things that have to fall into place to make a restaurant simply function, let alone stand out among the competition. This documentary (I promise the festival isn’t all docs) dives into that world and the sacrifices one chef makes to try to become the best.
  • “Love Me Anyway” – the crew behind this film is a regular at the Indy Film Fest. I’ve really enjoyed their previous work and have no doubt this one will keep the streak going.
  • “Somewhere in the Middle” – I’m intrigued by the premise of this one and how it will come together in execution: “…born out of a year-long improvisational process wherein the actors and director mutually crafted a time-fragmented, ensemble drama.”
  • “Wildlike” – this film closes out the festival and looks like an interesting story with scenic Alaska serving as a supporting character.

The exact schedule hasn’t been released yet so be sure to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest updates. Links will be available to buy tickets in advance (the opening and closing nights will sell out!) or you can purchase at the door. I strongly suggest investing in the all access pass. It’s worth it and I love that it gives you the freedom to take a chance on movies you might have passed on based solely on the summary or trailer if you had a limited number of tickets.

Last year, I provided some pro tips for festival attendees. Those all still ring true but one to add: There’s been some confusion about whether or not you can still bike to the IMA after some recent policy changes. They clarify in this blog post, which I suggest you read before biking over. I live downtown and try to bike to the festival when I can, partly because it’s a beautiful route, but also to help offset the popcorn, beer and hours of sitting.

So there you have it. My entry into the “stop saying Indy is boring and get out and experience all it has to offer” debate. I hope to see you out at the festival next month!

Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose! While I have been an official blogger for the festival in the past and received an all access pass for it, this post is just me sharing some love for an event I love and hope you will love, too

The perfect southern solo getaway

Before I travel, I usually do pretty extensive research on sites to see and places to eat so I can hit the ground running when I arrive. I creep on Google Maps (satellite and street view!) to the point where I often have a city’s general layout memorized before I even get there. Given all that, I usually have a good idea of what my trip will be like going into it.

Last week, however, Charleston, SC, took me by surprise. I was truly blown away by how beautiful and relaxing it was. I present into evidence Exhibit A: My Instagram account, which I unashamedly BLEW UP for three days solid.

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Charleston was exactly what I needed after getting through our biggest work event of the year the weekend prior. I love to travel and have never been one of those “It’ll be good to get home” people but this trip was particularly tough to see come to an end. I spent my last night under the moonlight, toes in the sand, just listening to the waves hit the rocks. It was perfection (Exhibit B).

To be fair, it would have been hard for Charleston to fail as a destination, what with warm weather, water, southern cooking and historic homes. It did end up being an expensive town but I was in full on treatyoself mode and had budgeted appropriately. I didn’t do as much as I typically fit into my trips (event planner hangover, perhaps) but I did get a taste of everything Charleston has to offer and loved it.

I stayed at the Charleston Harbor Resort which overlooked downtown from across the bay. The hotel had a free trolley to/from downtown and there was also a water taxi that was a cheap way to get out on the water (and see dolphins!). I took advantage of the free hotel bikes one day and also got in a five-mile run to the bridge and back. It was a convenient location to both take advantage of all the excitement of downtown and escape from it to relax by the pool or on the marina dock.

So, the highlights:

  • Magnolia’s: The fried chicken meal I had was the epitome of southern cooking and I was in carb heaven. Since I traveled alone, I sat at the bar right away but I would recommend reservations.
  • The rooftop at The Vendue: Pretty popular on a Saturday night and for good reason. I enjoyed a beautiful view of the sun setting over downtown.
  • 82 Queen: I wish I had been hungrier when I was here! I stopped in for lunch and the menu looked amazing but I kept it light with a super tasty local Kolsch and a crab cake. They have an adorable patio but I sat at the bar since the wait was so long.
  • Kaminsky’s: Did the cliché dessert of a warm slice of apple pie a la mode while killing time before taking the hotel trolley back. So good!
  • 39 Rue de Jean: Hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Ever. I ate every bite of the steak frites and can still taste the deliciousness thinking about it now. So glad one of my friends recommended it!
  • Tavern and Table: I biked over for lunch and saw yet another gorgeous side of Charleston. I sat outside overlooking Shem Creek with a delicious charcuterie and cheese board.
  • The Griffon: For my last dinner, I took the water taxi over and asked the captain to recommend somewhere chill and unique with a tasty burger and local brews. His suggestion was so on point!
  • Nathaniel Russell House and Aiken Rhett House: With no car, I was limited in getting out to the larger plantations. However, Charleston has preserved several urban plantations and house museums right in the middle of the downtown neighborhoods. I visited the Nathaniel Russell House first and it had a cool staircase. But the Aiken Rhett House was far more impressive and the audio tour was really well done.

I realize it looks like all I did is eat but I’m okay with that. I enjoyed every single thing I ate, except for the crab cake which I tolerated in an effort to eat seafood. If I had a car, I could have ventured to Folly or Sullivan Beach, too. But I enjoyed keeping it low key and spending a lot of time just walking around and taking in the views of the water, the architecture and the flowers.

And if all that wasn’t enough to convince you how perfect this trip was, here’s a gallery of pics:

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Have you been to Charleston? What did I miss out on? Did you also eat all the food while there? Add your recommendations in the comments below!