2018 in pages

I’m going to fall short of my reading goal for 2017. It’s 100% because I’m running at the gym and not bicycling so maybe I should add “learning to like audio books” to my 2018 goals? It’s going to be a must as treadmill runs get longer

I love that Goodreads tells me my reading totals over the years:

  • 2017:  84/91
  • 2016: 84/75
  • 2015: 87/56

My Year in Books is a pretty fun look at how weird my reading habits are.

In cleaning up my Goodreads tagging, I realized I’m not as far behind as I thought I would be. It seems like I was bad at adding finish dates, whoops. Glad to know I hit last year’s total. I won’t exceed it as I’m in the middle of a longer book and don’t have enough reading time today and tomorrow.

Recap on 2017 challenges:

  • #backlistreader: 43. Another one I can blame running for. Lots of new to me books this year and Mt. TBR has grown by a factor of one hundred. Oh well. We’ll try a version of this again
  • #librarylovechallenge: 30. Just shy of the 36 I wanted, but when you add in Kindle Unlimited (9) and NetGalley (19) I feel like that’s similar so while I fell short, I still accomplished the goal of reading more borrowed/free books. I think I’m going to do this one again, despite what I said about only doing backlist.
  • #ebookreadingchallenge: 78. This one is ridiculous for me. It’s not a challenge. I should marry a dead tree challenge with backlist, as that’s the true challenge. I read more dead tree this year though because some books NYPL had in hard copy vs. digital
  • 19,723 pages. This is a decline. Lots of shorter books this year. But books are books. Judgement free zone. I fell short, landed between bonsai and shrub.
Santa and Liz Claus haul

My TBR is out of control at 379 so a backlist reader challenge is a necessity.  This is in part, because Liz, a wonderful person who I’ve known through BookCrossing for a decade or more, introduced me to the amazing Runners’ Bookshelf and so many ideas come from there. Santa only gave me one book this year, Cy Adler is the man who founded the Great Saunter. Liz Claus is responsible for the two running books as well as Iris Murdoch to lure me into a wonderful challenge she’s hosting. Can’t wait. Because I’m “blaming” running for my lack of reading, I really should find a running, reading challenge. In the mean time I’ll settle for at least one on the 2018 Taking the Long Way Home book club list and one of the books of the month in the Runners’ Bookshelf.

The master list is once again a godsend, even though most of them don’t work for me personally (52 books/52 weeks is my bucket list though). The 2016 challenge didn’t come back for 2017 or 2018 and the 2017 backlist one had a few too many rules re: months the book was purchased so I think I’m going with the following:

  • #BeatTheBacklist, I love the fun, team element (love that I’m a Dragon!) and it’s not overcomplicated the way some of them are. I can’t commit to 12 books now because that will do nothing but ensure I don’t read those 12. What can I say, I know me. Goodreads shelf.
Beat the Backlist: Dewey Dragons
Angel's Guilty Pleasures


  • and for the library one, same host. I’m going to shoot for Overdrive Junkie and try for Library Addict in the event I get into audio books. I’m going to use #2018LibraryLoveChallenge so I can differentiate them from this year’s books

Here’s to a year full of words.


Mile High Run Club: Mental edition

I knew I wanted to work out tonight and didn’t have the attention span to stay on the treadmill at the gym. So I checked Mile High Run Club’s schedule and saw there was something called a Jingle Bell Jog on the calendar for 7PM. It was The Distance, which I did not like the first time I tried. But I figured if it was marketed as a jog I might be able to hang on, and I booked it.

When I got there I realized this was no ordinary “jog”. It was a class taught by the Mile High Run Club founder. Eek! Should I bail. Nope, you’re there. The credit is spent. Do this. I’d actually heard Debora Warner speak and I was curious, if intimidated, to have a class with her.

The class was awesome. Because it was a racing version where there would be male and female winners for who covered the most distance (100% not me!), it was way more on “flat ground” (1.0 incline, flat ground in Mile High speak) . I think that’s what made it doable. That and I decided early that I was going to walk the recoveries vs. trying to run them. That’s where I am right now, and that’s OK. My only goal was to finish, and I did!

Mile High Run Club: Run/Walk The Distance

I was pretty proud of that. I set and (mostly kept) my levels as follows:

  • Level 1: 5.0 – this mostly didn’t happen as I dropped to walking, but it was my base and warmup
  • Level 2: 5.5 – this made sense as it feels like it has become my flat ground “race pace”
  • Low Level 3: 5.8
  • Mid Level 3: 6.0
  • High Level 3: 6.1
  • Level 4: 6.5-6.7 (!)

The breakdown of the workout was a follows:

  • five minute warmup
  • four five minute efforts, the first two included the only two hills at 4.0 and 6.0 incline
  • two four minute efforts that were exact same
  • a three minute effort
  • a two minute effort

I think I set my levels right as I didn’t have to lower any of them once into the interval and I was able to sustain three minutes at 5.8 and 6.0 which is definite progress for me. The final interval / effort is the one I was most proud of. The first minute was a runners’ choice (I went with 6.0) and the second was level four sprint, which I started at 6.5 and found enough oomph to take it to 6.7 WOW. In theory that means I could have gone harder earlier, but I don’t think so. That extra smidgen in the tank was barely that.

Maintaining 5.5 on short hills, doable. Maybe one day it will even lead to maintaining it across Central Park hills. A girl can dream

I really, really enjoyed this class. The music was great (Guns ‘n’ Roses is perfect especially Sweet Child of Mine to close it), the atmosphere was fun and not competitive and it just all clicked. More learning? I guess. I had the chance to speak with Debora and that was fun. I didn’t find her to be an intimidating coach at all even if the class was geared toward a much higher level than where I currently am.

The thing I really like about all but one of the Mile High classes I’ve taken is the genuine interest from the classes in each of us. They all seem genuinely interested in why people are taking the classes and what they’re getting from them.  I still don’t get the big deal about these treadmills, but I love the classes.

I still have no idea what “my” pace is, or how any of this is going to turn out in 2018, but in the mean time I’m following the advice of my bracelet

Enjoy the Journey



  • Strava, you’re going to be the death of me. Round up in minutes and down in mileage. Top is watch, bottom is Strava. *glare*
dumb Strava
  • One thing that I forgot in yesterday’s post-that popped into my mind today when I was trying to follow post-class stretches. I cannot follow aerobic instructions. Run at x speed for y time? Done. Stretch with this foot forward? Nope. Not a chance. It was comical in the NYRR warmup on Tuesday since I’d bonk the person next to me when invariably leaning in the wrong direction. At least tonight it was just on me. And I can absolutely laugh about it.


  • Another nice moment tonight: as I headed out of the office, I already had a possible excuse. When packing my gym bag last night I somehow forgot a sports bra. Oops. That’s one thing I don’t keep at the office-soon to remedy-and I thought about bailing. Since I’d already reserved the class I knew the credit was committed so I decided to check Duane Reade. Of course they sell them-they sell everything. Was it the best? No. But it was Hanes and did the job. Post-laundry, where it will hopefully lose its ability to make a black sweat stain on my back, it will live at work.

Gone: 30 minute goal

after thinking about this on and off for the last few weeks, I just threw the 30 minute daily goal out the window. I had mentally written a blog post for today explaining how much work I had to do to get my average back over 30 minutes after a short run (no running allowed in that area. Where it was allowed was too crowded) but then I further asked myself why.

As I’ve been working my way back from injury – and pleased to report that the shoes are still magic two weeks in – I’ve been thinking and obsessing more about that thirty minute goal. I was still annoyed two weeks later about how a good run that knocked me under thirty minutes still bothered me goal wise. That’s ridiculous.

What flipped the switch? A really good start to today’s run. About a half mile in I realized I was under 10 minute pace. Um, I don’t run that fast,  I’m a turtle. Except, maybe I do? I realized after I took the four days off when my foot first hurt badly that I really hadn’t lost any fitness. My 5K times quickly rebounded and running felt good in better shoes. (I also took my advice and started wearing better commuting shoes. SO. MUCH. BETTER. Fitflops are seriously amazing for the plantar fasciitis, dreading end of sandal season). I also found that this month, humid runs aside, was much faster.

So I decided rather than trying to chase pace and time, I’d focus on pace (yes, I should have listened to myself in June!). I also think that some of the “must get to thirty minutes” run extensions were the time equivalent of junk mileage and while they didn’t cause this summer’s injuries, they didn’t help them. What also facilitated this? I’m not doing this month’s five miler or the Bronx ten miler as I didn’t think I could do either without reinjuring myself so I’m focusing on training for an October 10K and doing it properly.

I’m going to leave the thirty minute goal there as I’d like to work toward it and because some of the 10K training will take me there, but I’m not going to let it rule my workout plans. So what am I going to do? I found the ASICS Pace Academy progression too quick for my abilities (much like initial Couch to 5K), but my pace seems to be at the Workout 3 where I left it, so I’m going to try to pick it up there and see where it takes me. It doesn’t align well with the 10K training but may work for the speed workouts, so we’ll see.

Speaking of where it takes me… Today’s run that was under ten minute mile at the half mile marker?

Whoa, where did that pace come from?
Negative Splits!
This loop over time

Strava is drunk with its rounding down. Runkeeper sees TomTom’s 2.03, Strava fail. Why did I include this? Because I love how Strava tracks the route over time and even if it’s not an exact alignment with RunKeeper, it shows my improved speed and why I think focusing on pace is the right move here.

Speaking of time and pace, as they stand today with the fast and short workouts of the past week: 27:56 and 12:09. That’s almost 44 seconds faster than July. I love early gains. We’ll see where this takes me. Mean time, I’m smiling.

Turtle Power!

Review: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

This book took me way too long to move up Mt. TBR and then once I was reading it, way too long to finish. Not because it wasn’t good — but because July is when two of my “must read now” books are published and a few library books hit too.

I don’t recall when I first became aware of this book, but I definitely have been thinking of it over the last few months since the Museum of Chinese in America opened Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy, their exploration of Chinese food in America. They’ll continue to be in parallel with Golden Venture featured in her book as well as their upcoming exhibit.

American Chinese food is, to me, a fascinating concept as it’s neither American nor Chinese – as the author found when she tried to trace General Tso in his home town and found the military hero, not the culinary genius.  This book almost couldn’t have been written without the show and tell of digital photography where she used her camera to show various dishes as she tried to track them across China. This coming from a woman who spoke Mandarin was essential as I don’t think she’d have gotten half the stories she did without that tie.

I loved the two-fold premise of the book, tracking the iconic fortune cookie from its creation in Japan, or maybe Korea, or possibly even California to the winning lottery tickets as well as the author’s own heritage. Her early chapters, and the final wrap including her father, who was “a PhD away from being a delivery man” being admonished not to leave menus when he brought food to a sick friend, reminded me a little of Steven Shaw’s Setting the Table as he was also a fan of Upper West Side Chinese. The book perfectly toed the line between memoirs and food & travel writing and is a fit for fans of both genres.

I especially enjoyed her trip around the world to find the “best” Chinese food. Such a fun part of travel. Although I’m not personally a huge fan of Chinese food, I might have to sample more of it.

2017 Reading Stats:

Review: Running Like a Girl

Alexandra Heminsley’s Running Like a Girl

this may be the quintessential “don’t judge a book by its cover”, or, by its title. When I first stumbled on it, I disregarded it as probably patronizing. The “Bridget Jones-like writer” endorsement from The Washington Post didn’t really help matters. I was pleasantly surprised to be completely wrong.

“You don’t run,” he corrected me. “But you’re more than able.”

I think part of the reason I enjoyed this was she’s rather like me. A late convert to running after assuming she couldn’t – and she shared the details of the painful slow start. I’m glad I logged mine so I can see how far I’ve come even if I don’t see it with my numbers.

I’ve been enjoying a number of memoirs of runners in the last six months. They’re a nice complement to the more training focused ones like Hal Higdon’s and even John Bingham’s. What I especially liked about this is she put a lot of the basics that every running book seems to cover (what’s an IT Band, how to choose shoes, the running pioneers, etc.) into a pseudo appendix so they didn’t drag down the book’s pace.  I appreciated her struggles with buying sneakers as that’s somewhere I’ve struggled myself – and am still running in the first pair of shoes. Eventually. I’m pretty sure I’ll never worry about eyeliner, false eyelashes though and I’ve embraced my pink.

I’m impressed how she chose to immediately tackle the marathon and how she was able to fight off inertia following the race to do it again, and subsequently do two more. While I am almost positive I’ll never run a marathon – just no interest -it’s nice to see that just running that distance doesn’t make you any more invincible. And I love that she drew support from her fellow runners, while an introvert at heart I love the motivation of a run group or race to get me off the couch early vs. having it drag out like too many Saturdays do. If only I could do unlimited races.

I wish she’d touched more on the differences between running in Brighton, London and other UK areas (the hills of Edinburgh and San Francisco are self explanatory). I love being by the water, but maybe not in winter. Wonder how much more preferable she found Brighton weather wise unless it doesn’t differ that much to London’s climate.

sweaty mess

Speaking of slugurdays, in between starting and finishing this (ran out of time, or I’d have finished it in one sitting) I managed to set a 5K PR. Maybe she was rubbing off on me. This shirt is also good luck. Believe I set a prior PR in it too

It was my first 5K since I completed the challenge, mostly due to inertia and a bit of laziness induced bullshit. The weather was iffy (and caused a rain out for run group) and I realized it was better to head to the gym. I did and was slightly disappointed to see the sun come out – I wasn’t prepared for an outdoor run and really would have preferred to run to the gym and cut the time needed on treadmill. Oh well.

I decided rather than doing a semi-speed workout to just focus on doing 5K at 4.8. I put the TV on full screen so I wouldn’t fixate on distance/time remaining, which is my main issue with treadmill and went.  At 2.7 I upped it to 5.5 but I was hot and tired so that only lasted until 2.95 when I went back down to 4.8. My watch had a moment leading to Strava/TomTom recording it as two runs. Luckily with RunKeeper I was able to combine them and I realized it was a PR by 29 seconds! There was some amusement trying to calculate my prior best time ahead of realizing that looking in the Runkeeper details would tell me that. It was this one, which I just missed besting on the final 5K of the challenge.

pace math

Like that last run, I didn’t set out for a PR. Also like the last one, I didn’t realize it until I was done. I guess it’s further proof that I am getting faster even if I don’t realize it. That’s part of where the treadmill comes in handy, it forces a constant pace whereas my Central Park ones aren’t consistent. Given good weather, I’d rather be outdoors, but treadmill is a good tool.

2017 Reading:

Way off pace. But I’m reading and enjoying what I’m reading, so I’m not worried about falling short.


RunTheYear / GoTheDist 2017 Halfway Point

Whooah, we’re half way there…Take my hand and we’ll make it, I swear…Livin’ on a prayer

It seems like just yesterday I was setting my 2017 goals and now we’re at the year’s halfway mark. I thought I had a set mileage goal, but I had a 3.8m step goal (with 4m as stretch and 500 mile bike goal. I also had a goal of a 400K month and less than 93 days below goal. About those goals…

2017 Halfway Marker:

  • 2,389,817 steps walked
  • 1033.14 miles run/walked
  • 205.47 miles run

To be fair, those goals were before I went on a run quest and before Caryn turned me on to RunTheYear. When I joined I figured I had no shot of covering the mileage on my own but knew Caryn and I could do it together. Team #PinstripeBelles soon grew to four with folks from the Facebook group looking for a team and as of today we’re at 1975.88 miles. wooHOO!

I’ve fallen off tracking the days below goal, so here’s a quick look. I also upped my daily goal from the default 10K to 11K and am seriously considering upping it to 12K given some ridiculous averages:

  • January: 15 // 11 (grandma’s death had me out of steps commission)
  • February 6 // 7 (had two “who cares” days)
  • March 4 // 7 (company, snow)
  • April 5 // 2 (out of town, oh so close)
  • May 8 //  7 (travel, events, Saunter recovery)
  • June 2 //  3 (home after midnight, two days away)

2016: 30, 2017: 37. Oops. I’m trending better though, and think I can make it up on the year. We’ll see.

2017 Q2:

  • 1,325,735 steps
  • 575.42 miles run/walked
  • 120.09 miles run


  • 433,641 steps
  • 188.23 miles run/walked
  • 41.12 miles run

I got a bee in my bonnet this week about topping May 2017 after topping June 2016. Why? Those were months where my totals were higher than normal (although I later realized May 2017 wasn’t actually that good) due to the Saunter and the Manhattan Bridge Walk. I pushed hard and on Friday realized I was on the cusp of what I thought was my best Workweek Hustle and pushed for 80K. I got it, with 33 steps to spare, but turned out it wasn’t my best week. I assume that was April’s ridiculousness and I just didn’t notice weekly total.

So… plans for the year:

July goals:

  • 400,000 steps
  • 508 miles run/walked
  • 50 miles run
  • Fewer than 7 days below goal

I noticed that my stretch goal was 325,000 last July and now my stretch goal is 415,000.  Who knew how much of a difference running would make. If I hit 400K again it will be the sixth month in a row, which would be amazing. WIll be my 19th month in a row of 300K. My “acceptable” goal was 290,000 although I was already reaching for that 300,000 streak and now it’s the 345,000 that I hit last year. I’m not setting Q3 specific goals as I still find it hard to break it down that way.

My June running goals came close to my previous high of April and I still think 50 might be doable. I’m impressed that I got to 40+ with the early injuries, but the races helped. I don’t have any booked for July due to the heat but I’m watching the weather and contemplating the: Governors Island 10K, the Damon Runyon 5K (on the warning track at Yankee stadium!), the NYRR R-U-N 5K as I’d love a proper 5K within Central Park and maybe the Ice Cream social.

Further, I’m keeping my time/pace goals at 30 minutes and 13 minutes although I came in at 35:28 average time at 12;46 pace. Why? Because they’re both off. There are a few where I tracked the mileage but not the time or the pace as I knew they’d skew it.  Time wise, that was especially true when I was healing after the Retro 5Miler and going for the MyMile and pace with yesterday’s beach “run” aka game of people and sand castle dodg’em. As I look back on my spreadsheet, I realize if I’d taken the time hit for the first MyMile, the 11:50 pace would have countered the 13s later in the month. Lesson learned, be honest in tracking. I think 30m is a good challenge too as unless I’m going for a 5K or doing a race, I tend to go shorter.

About that MyMile challenge:

I didn’t particularly think I was getting faster but one day this week I didn’t have the time or energy to do a proper 2+ mile run so I decided to have another go at MyMile after coming in at 11:50 on June 5.  When I shaved 14 seconds off that (5.0 for .65 miles, 5.5 for .35) I realized I am getting incrementally faster and decided to look back at other one mile-ish runs:

MyMile: April, May, June x2

I’m almost two minutes/mile faster in two months. At some point I’ll figure out how to translate that to longer runs, but we’ll see. I’m still devouring Hal Higdon and just got his Run Fast which I’ll try to implement.

2017 goals:

  • 4,500,000 steps
  • 2,017 miles run/walked, $2,017 raised for Joyful Heart
  • 500 miles run

The first two are doable. The latter is a stretch but I think it’s a worthy goal to work toward even if I fall short. Yes, I’m back to the mileage goal even though I said it was broken. It is, but it’s still a ball park.

On to July… time to get off the couch. State of the books tomorrow

#GoTheDist 2017: January Chapter

After some family events, I knew January was going to be more of a struggle but I was determined. Even if hitting January 2016 wasn’t possible I wanted to at least hit January 2015 and, ideally, 300K steps.

Mission Accomplished!

January totals:

  • 301,270 steps
    127.16 miles walked
    53.01 miles biked

I came just shy, 428 steps to be exact, of January 2016 numbers but I was OK with that because I hit 300K. In 2016 I had 15 days below goal and in 2017 I had 11. That was a pleasant surprise considering I was unexpectedly out of town last week.

Increasing my time and speed
increasing my mileage

As I mentioned, OK with the bike mileage because I have kept up the running. I’ve done 13/21 RunKeeper C25K workouts and had 15 gym visits (11 that count for reimbursement). I’m in a good place. I know the initial gains will taper off, but in the mean time I’m enjoying the recognition.

February Goals:

  • 300,000 steps
  • 50 miles biked
  • Graduate C25K

Going to be harder with one less day than last year and a travel day or two, but I think this is doable. Feb 2016 total was 313, 153. I’m OK with a stretch goal of 305,000. The math of Charge / Alta mileage is so borked I’m not even worried about that.

Reading isn’t on track, I’ve read 7/91 and almost none count for the challenges other than ebook, but that’s OK. I’ll get back into it. Less bike mileage is also a part of it as I can’t read and run:

2016 reading challenge

At least the one I’m planning on at this moment.  Level: 50+ Married with Children

I think the reason I’m struggling with finishing the A-Z challenge is an issue I’ve had since high school. I hate being told what to read. If I have to read something, I won’t. That’s why I end up avoiding things like PopSugar or Book Riot‘s challenges even though I love the idea of them. Part of the reason I love this challenge is only “rules” are books that were published before 2015. Since I’m still trying to purge the shelves, I think it’s a perfect one for me.

Since I’ve made at least four “what should I read?” posts in the last year, including one last night for the final push to 100 books, I’ve finally bit the bullet and decided to try Goodreads. I love Library Thing for the cataloging, but I’ve never made good use of the community aspects or the recommendations. So giving GR a go even though I hated it for so long. I do review all books for Amazon so it actually makes sense.

While I’ll finish 2015 in at least the 90s, I do think it will be a bit of a challenge to hit that level again without series to binge on, so I think I’m setting my official goal at 75. We’ll see.

50 before 50

Have I seriously never posted about the 50 before 50 aka visit all fifty states before I turn 50 challenge? Maybe because as of last year, I didn’t think it was going to happen:

States visited as of July 2014
States visited as of July 2014

But 2015 has been very good for my progress:

States Visited: May 15, 2015
States Visited: May 15, 2015
States Visited: September 15, 2015
States Visited: September 15, 2015

With this past week’s trip to New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado (amazing! pics to come), I hit the 30 state mark. If it wasn’t totally cheating, I could even count Utah, but I won’t.

at the Four Corners Monument in September 2015
at the Four Corners Monument in September 2015

The craziest thing? If Labor Day were August this year it would have been an insane number of states as between 7/31 and 9/7 I was in:

  • North Carolina (airport only)
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Colorado

Repeats in August, but still! Also with my 2015 progress I have:

  • hit my first “A” state
  • Finished off the “C”s with Colorado

I don’t think I’ll hit any other states in 2015 so it’s time to think ahead to 2016. I have the National Parks Pass valid through the end of September 2016 so that’s a likely starting point. I could:

  • finish off the Anna Pigeon parks in states I haven’t been to. Would give me: Utah (Glen Canyon), Michigan (Lake Superior’s Isle Royale), Mississippi (Natchez Trace) and Minnesota.
  • Do a spring trip to a location where I could easily get more states, such as Memphis
  • Do others that have been on my bucket list which are a combination of the above and other factors: Yosemite, Salt Lake City, Mt. Rushmore, Glacier. That could definitely/partially be done via the Zephyr, although driving back on the table.

Park hopping is definitely an option, decisions, decisions

2015 Alphabet Soup Challenge

2015 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
2015 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

43 books read as of December 12, 2014 and with a week’s vacation to come, I’ll do well by my 2014 goal, even if I cheated with fiction.

Liz’s post got me thinking about a 2015 goal and I wasn’t sure where I was going since without the Bosch series, I don’t really have a prayer of repeating 2014’s numbers. Then I came across Sally’s 2015 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge post (with more info and registration here) and I decided that could be a lot of fun. I think it will also help me personally with reading new titles in the year they come out, which I haven’t been good with of late.


It’s an alphabet challenge! The challenge is to read one book that has a title starting with every letter of the alphabet.

You can drop the A’s and The’s from the book titles. For those pesky Q, X AND Z titles the word with the challenge letter can be anywhere in the title.

Need some help finding titles to match the alphabet – Jandy’s Reading Room has a wonderful list to get you started.

Books can be read in any order and all formats – print – e-book – audio – are acceptable for this challenge!

Here is my list – many I have planned already from my TBR pile (in italics means I haven’t read them yet) – the rest I will update as I go. Maaaybe I’ll even get back on track with reviews, but in the mean time here’s a link to my books in the challenge on LT. I’ve tried for a good balance between fiction and non and I’ve also included a few that I really want to finish. A few are 2015 new releases and some have been on Mt. TBR way too long

ETA 3 January: bolded books are ones I’ve actually read along with date

Continue reading “2015 Alphabet Soup Challenge”