January Reading List

I didn’t spend a lot of time running in January. However, I did spend a lot of time reading about running – mostly training books. I’m a planner, and I felt I needed some guidance on how to prepare for a longer race. I also needed some motivation to keep going. As I stated in a previous post, this is not my most active time of year. In fact, if I believed in any of that past life stuff, I would hazard a guess I was a hibernating bear in one of mine.


I started off the year reading, Be Iron Fit, 2nd: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for Ultimate Fitness. I have no intention of competing in an Ironman any time soon, I need to learn how to swim for starters, but I’ve always been curious about what it takes to train for one of these competitions. It was in the Kindle monthly deals section and I thought it might offer some motivation and tips I could incorporate into my daily running routine. It was motivational and I definitely picked up on some things I can do now in my own practice, such as running in minutes instead of miles. It’s definitely a lot easier to schedule training on busy days if I know exactly how long it will take me, which will make it harder for me to skip a day.


I also read Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line – and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity. I stumbled upon the blog, Another Mother Runner one day. I really enjoyed reading it, so I thought I’d give their book a try. I enjoyed reading it as well. It contained practical advice and the anecdotes were great. I have a few fears about running my first 13 mile race, some of the fears I believe only a mother can appreciate, and it’s good to read honest accounts from women who have already experienced these things. I think this is the plan I’m going to follow when I start seriously training. I like the flexibility of the plan, which is necessary when you have kids. I also love their sense of humor and their writing style. They keep things fun, which is how running should be.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel (Vintage International) isn’t a running book, but the author is a runner. He even wrote a book about running, which is on my wishlist. That is not why I chose this book. I found Haruki Murakami at the end of last year completely by accident and I’m glad I did. This book was even better than the last one. In fact, I would list this book as one of my all time favorites. It was a funny, serious, and thought-provoking story about the interaction between humans and technology, how actions and thoughts connect us to others, and how our dreams and desires help shape our lives and the lives of those we interact with. Each chapter switches between 2 different story lines that gradually interweave and converge at the end. It’s a hard book to explain, you just have to read it. It’s a book that has stuck with me so far. I think it will stick with me for awhile.

I wasn’t as taken with Just Kids as some others were. I like Patti Smith, but I didn’t like this book. I didn’t hate it either, it just wasn’t what I expected. I was expecting a more thoughtful account of her time with Robert Maplethorpe. It lacked emotion and depth in my opinion, especially in the middle where she recounted her time at the Chelsea. I would have loved to hear more detail about hers and Robert’s work and how they found the road to their success. Instead it read more like the diary I kept as a teenager – a bit trite and superficial. Disappointing is the word that keeps coming to mind.

So far, I am ahead on my 2013 reading challenge progress. I think that is pretty good way to start the year off.

Right now I’m reading Chi Marathon and Country Driving. So far I’m enjoying both. And I plan on doing more running and less reading about running in the coming weeks and months. Now if only the weather will cooperate…. So far this week it has. I got out this morning for a rainy 4.27 mile run.  I ran without Chuck this morning. He hates the rain. He can’t tolerate his paws getting wet. He loves the snow though, which is on the way according to the forecast, so maybe I’ll take him on a snowy run this weekend.

My phone must have sensed the rain today as well. The song it played for me on the home stretch was Rain Street by The Pogues, which I know has nothing to do with rain, but it was still a fun song to end on as I splashed through puddles on the way home.

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The Fog Comes

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

-Carl Sandburg

Today it was foggy and wet and warm. It was a perfect spring day….in January?!? I decided to stop questioning and take advantage by going out for a short run. I love running in a light rain. And the fog added a stillness to the air this morning. I even ran without music today, which is rare.

I met a new puppy on my route. He was a cute little Pit Bull who kept bringing me empty beer cans, dropping them at my feet and then beckoning me with his cute puppy eyes to play fetch. A few minutes prior I was starting to get angry at all the empty cans littered along the road. He refocused me back to a more positive frame of mind. He ran with me for about a quarter-mile before he went back home. I started to get worried that I was going to have to bring him back to his house myself, but he eventually got tired of our little game and went back home. I might pack some treats, or a tennis ball in my pocket next time I take this route, just in case he’s out and feeling playful again.

I didn’t snap a photo of my new friend. It was raining pretty steady at the time and I didn’t want my phone to get wet. I did snap this photo of a horse farm I passed along the way.

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I ran almost 4 miles this morning at a nice slow pace. It was a good morning.

Winter Running

I know this will probably sound contradictory – I really love snow but I really hate being cold. I’ll go out in the cold when there is snow, but cold weather without snow is not my idea of a good-weather day. On those type of days I’m more inclined to hunker down with a hot cup of tea, a warm blanket, and either a good book or my knitting needles. That sounds really appealing to me. Running…not so much. Unfortunately here in my little corner of Indiana, we’ve been having plenty of cold and little-to-no-snow, which has translated into little-to-no running so far this winter. I want to run a half-marathon by then end of this year, so no running is not an option right now.

This is also my first winter running, and I don’t have access to a treadmill right now, so I’m trying to find creative ways to make sure I haul myself out the door. I know I’ll feel better, even with just a short run, I always do. But the thought of going out in the cold doesn’t appeal to me. Although, getting to run past this scenery is pretty sweet! And since it’s cold out, I don’t have to compete with anyone else for the view.

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I tried purchasing some new gear – winter leggings, a jacket, headband. Usually when I get new things, I want to try them out right away. I tried out my new winter gear once in early December. Key word there is once. It wasn’t terribly cold, but it was windy, and with my asthma I felt like I was inhaling shards of glass. I had one of my son’s fleece neck gaiters on to cover my mouth, but it wouldn’t stay in place. I don’t think it was the right tool for the job. With that one bad experience, I convinced myself to take a break from running, at least until after the holidays. I’m glad I did, but now that the holidays are over, finding the motivation to put my running shoes back on has been challenging.

We do have a dog. He is an athletic breed and needs daily walks. He also loves to run. I decided maybe when I took Chuck out for a walk, I would do so clad in my running gear. My logic being, I will look really ridiculous, not to mention I’ll be cold, if I’m just out for a leisurely walk with our dog, Chuck, clothed in layers of shiny spandex under running shorts. However, if I’m running with the dog, it makes much more sense to be dressed that way.  This tactic has actually been working so far. I take him for a short run/walk to warm-up, then drop him back home and go out for a little longer. Chuck is really enjoying these runs too. And having a furry running buddy is kind of nice.

Chuck

As for the days it’s too cold to take Chuck with me…..I’m not entirely sure I’m going to want to go out in that kind of weather. I’d probably stay home too and spend the time skipping rope, doing some strength training, and/or yoga instead….Oh, who am I kidding. I’ll be hunkered down under a warm blanket, with a hot cup of tea, and either a book or my knitting needles.

Now that I have a few winter runs under my belt, it’s not so bad. I’m learning to enjoy the cold. There is a sense of calm out there, especially on a trail run, that I don’t get in the warmer months. And we have some snow in the forecast, so hopefully I’ll be listening to snow crunching under my feet in the near future.

What gets you motivated to run in the cold weather?

Cormorant

About a month ago, I finished my second sweater of my knitting career. It’s the Cormorant from Norah Gaughan’s Flyaway pattern book. As I said in my previous post, it was an  intimidating pattern for me to start, as I’m still fairly new to knitting and my confidence isn’t always there. But I like a challenge, and I really liked the sweater, so after successfully completing the Osprey scarf, I decided I could handle the Cormorant (my project notes are on Ravelry).

Cormorant

I’m pretty darn proud of myself. There are a few small mistakes, but nothing terribly obvious. And my shoulder seaming looks much better than my last attempt. No bumps or puckers this time. I still need to find a button for it, but until then I think the shawl pin works nicely.

It was a nice pattern to knit. I used Wool of the Andes for the main body and Palette for the ruffle. Both yarns are available from Knitpicks. I’ve been knitting on a budget lately, so Knitpicks is my usual go to place for inexpensive but nice yarns.

Some knitters on Ravelry commented about the amount of stockinette stitch on the sleeves being boring. I actually didn’t have a problem with that. The ruffle was where I got frustrated. There were so many stitches on the needle, my knitting felt like it was going nowhere. While I was knitting it, I kept thinking of those birds you see flying into the wind on super windy days, flapping with all their might and not getting anywhere; I was knitting for hours but not seeing much progress. Eventually the ruffle was finished and I think the end result was worth it.

Cormorant

The sleeves are extra long, which might bother some, but I love them that way. I’m always cold, so I end up pulling the cuffs of my sweaters and knit tops down over my hands to keep warm. With this sweater I don’t have to pull, the sleeves already cover my hands. The back neck extension is a little tall. It doesn’t bother me too much as I have a long neck, but I don’t like how it makes the collar lay. It tends to bunch and slouch after I’ve been wearing it for awhile. I don’t know if there is any way to help it keep straight and tall – probably not.

Cormorant

I gained some more confidence in my knitting with this project. And I definitely feel better about seaming and picking up stitches now that I’ve finished this sweater.

Right now I have couple of small projects in my knitting bag – a cowl and some washcloths. After this sweater, I wanted some immediate gratification knitting before I tackled a larger project again.

A New Year, A New Title…

…and a new look.

Now that I have been managing to keep this blog going, and it is starting to develop some focus, I thought it needed a new name to reflect that. The name came to me last night when I was knitting and considering starting another running blog to keep track of my running goals and training. I thought it might be a good way to keep me motivated so I won’t talk myself out of any of them. However, I’ve learned from past experiences that I’m not good at maintaining multiple blogs, so I decided to just keep everything here. Reading, running, and knitting are all related in the fact that they all help me maintain my sanity, so it seems logical to me to keep the posts here together. And I’ll still post photos, gardening, and recipes because those are related to running in an indirect way – I snap photos when I run, and I need to eat.

Hope you’ll all stick around for the new year’s adventures. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.