poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie

Undeclared Resolutions


Warning: this post does not make any mention of food, nor are there photos of food. Proceed with caution.

I’ve mentioned previously that TC and I made a pseudo-New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, and we’ve done OK with that. A couple of the other “resolutions” I made this year were to get my mind and my body in better shape. Since it’s been proven that success correlates with goals that are specific and quantifiable, I decided to:

1. Read at least three books per month.
2. Train for and run the Oakland Half Marathon on March 25th.

Re: #1. I’ve been pretty good about reading so far this year, though it definitely helped that I started 2012 with two books from the extremely addictive Hunger Games trilogy. Originally, I thought two books per month was a decent number, but I’m upping the ante to three! It has definitely helped to be around the corner from the main library, and to be able to read during my bus commute. So far, I’ve read:

  • Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
  • Solar, by Ian McEwan
  • The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
  • An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami

I highly recommend The Art of Fielding. I’m still trying to process the meaning behind the story, but the prose is unpretentious and elegant. I also really liked What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, though my bet is that it’s probably less of a crowd-pleaser. Murakami is one of my favorite writers; thus, I found it interesting to read about his transition from a bar owner and a 2-pack a day smoker at the age of 33, to a novelist and a marathon runner. So, as a fan and as a runner (and a wannabe-writer), I could relate to parts of the book. It does ramble on a bit, but the book is so short that it hardly matters.

On my list of books to read:
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann (currently reading)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood

If anyone has a book recommendation, please leave a comment below!

As for resolution #2, I really wanted to get in shape, and what better way to do so than to start running again? I knew that signing up for a half marathon was the best way to get back into running because I can pretty much run a 10K without training, but 13.1 miles is a different story. Throughout 2011, I ran in fits and starts, never more than 7 miles in one week, and often a lot less than that. And to be honest, this resolution was partially motivated by my vanity — I had accumulated noticeable girth around my midsection, which I was also looking forward to decreasing, if not altogether eliminating. Anyway, the Oakland Half Marathon sounded perfect, as it starts 3 blocks down the street from my apartment and is a relatively flat course. Plus, what better way to mark my first year as an Oakland resident?

Training has been going well so far. I didn’t realize until last month that I had never run more than 4 miles in my Vibram Five Fingers and I began to get anxious about whether I could pull off 13.1 miles in minimalist shoes. Well, there was no looking back, since I gave away my Adidas during the move. Luckily, besides a bit of tenderness at the soles of my feet, things have been going well in my VFFs. I’m up to 9 miles without injuries (knock on wood) and way ahead of my training schedule. Woot!

One thing I haven’t yet decided is my goal for this race. The “problem” is that my PR (personal record) for my one and only half marathon was actually decent (for me anyway) — 2:09:42, or 9:54/mile. My current training pace is about 10:00/mile, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to break my PR. I know that one thing I was disappointed about last time was that I got slower — A LOT slower — after mile 10. So, I could focus on not crashing out in the last 3 miles. Maybe some of you more experienced runners out there can suggest some good goals that I should focus on?

Thanks for letting me ramble on. I promise to post about food next time!



Author: Jen

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

9 thoughts on “Undeclared Resolutions

  1. Loved this post! Added The Art of Fielding to my list and want to know if you have a favorite starter for a late bloomer just now getting around to reading Murakami.

    • Thanks!
      My first Murakami book was Sputnik Sweetheart, which I think is an ideal introduction because it’s relatively short and just strange enough to give you a glimpse of Murakami’s style (e.g., talking cats and dopplegangers). My favorite Murakami book is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it’s long and very strange (in a good way). Norwegian Wood is also good; probably his tamest/most conventional book I’ve read. I was not a big fan of Kafka on the Shore. Have fun reading, and let me know what you think!

  2. Perfect timing with the post. I just finished a book last night and trying to figure out what I wanted to read next. Will try the Art of Fielding too, because I love books that the writing is what draws me in (I’m less motivated by plot than I am by beautiful and/or unique writing). Good luck with the half. I’m impressed. I ran 13 miles one random Saturday without training (like you, did 10K’s weekly without training. It just about killed me. I’m very impressed!

    • Thanks, Jan. 🙂
      Just FYI — the writing in The Art of Fielding is not obviously “great.” It’s simple for sure, but I didn’t realize how good it was until I started reading another book. Then, the contrast was obvious.

  3. Interval running (and its advanced cousin Tabata sprints) improve oxygen delivery and usage efficiency. If you’ve hit a mileage wall, doing an interval workout once a week could help. I’d say start with something like 4 800m runs. Warm up well, then run your intervals as fast (faster than your race pace) as you can with about a minute jogging break in between each one. Then cool down, stretch, etc. They’ll make you hate life, but they usually help add distance.

    • Yep, I started to consider intervals last week when I realized how far ahead of schedule I was distance-wise. I need to find a track though. I work right next door to a high school, but for some reason, they don’t have a track!!

      • Well, if you can’t accurately measure distance, most academic studies of interval workouts actually just use times. Set a timer for 20 seconds, sprint it, reset it, jog the next 40 seconds (2 rounds), then sprint 20 seconds, etc.

  4. Best books I read last year were: Room by Emma Donoghue (don’t read ANYTHING about this book, just open it up to page 1) and Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan.

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