Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 Great Things about 2014

Photo by Cassie Ngo

In no particular order:
  1. I successfully trained for my third marathon and PRed my time.
  2. I read/watched the entire Harry Potter series.
  3. It was a good year for YAF at the movies (Vampire Academy, Divergent, TFIOS, Mockingjay Part 1).
  4. I completed in my first duathlon.
  5. I entered the wonderful world of Veronica Mars.
  6. I learned a ton about intersectional feminism this year. (This was a HUGE part of my year.)
  7. Jolie ran in her first race in January.
  8. I saw Hank Green live and got to say "Good morning, John! It's Friday!" for a Vlogbrothers video.
  9. I had blonde hair. And then purple hair.
  10. I got another tattoo (my marathon one).
  11. We moved out of our condo into a house and I have a kickass office/craft room/library.
  12. Jolie received a leadership/citizenship award at school.
  13. I became PR/Marketing copy editor for Cracked Slate Productions and we're well on our way to getting started on our first series.
  14. I read/finished 46 books this year and ran 448 miles. Possibly my largest numbers ever for both categories.
Photo highlights!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

So you want to be a runner...

I'm not really one for new year's resolutions (because I find that my goals and wishes change throughout the year anyway), but of course, along with everyone else in the universe, I do want to be in better shape. Not to have a "hot bod" or whatever, but to be more fit, to be a better athlete.

Whatever the motive, it's a pretty popular goal every January, right? I used to devour fitness magazines by the dozen, and this is the time of year where every single media outlet puts in their two cents about getting fit. If I had a dollar for every time I saw the phrase "new year, new you," I could probably buy myself a new treadmill.

These days, there are TONS of fitness options out there, but it seems like, almost universally, when people talk about getting fit, they start to follow it up with "I should start running" or something like that. And while I totally applaud that, I also have to fight really hard to resist the urge to start dishing out caveats, because while running CAN be as easy as "Lace up and go," there are some things you'll want to consider first. Running is beautiful in its simplicity and in the fact that humans in general were meant to run - it's already in us to be able to run, unlike skating or pitching or dribbling, which require a lot of practice and drilling before you build up the muscle memory. If you can walk, then you can run. In that sense, it's a GREAT way to get fit. But it's also extremely common to take the universality of running for granted and get started on the wrong foot, so to speak. So this is why I'm here.

Look, I'm not an elite runner. I'm also not a medical expert. I'm really just... a regular person. In fact, I'm a mother with a demanding full-time job, and I've been an overweight, unathletic book nerd my entire life. (Well, I'm still overweight. I'm still a book nerd too.)

But... I do have, among other things, 3 full marathons and 28 half marathons under my belt. I know a TON about being a slow, fat runner with a really busy life, one who has had to start from zero so many times, unremarkable on paper but remarkably passionate about this sport that I participate in. And I'm here to offer you some tips, in case you're thinking about getting into running (or back into running) for the new year.

(Before I begin though, let me issue the usual "check with your physician" warning. Make sure that you can actually do this. If you have medical issues that running would only exacerbate, then maybe you should consider a different activity.)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Swatches: Smashbox's On the Rocks Photo Op Eye Shadow Luxe Palette

I am SUPER excited to have this, if only because I only had to pay $20 for it instead of $42. But I'm also excited because it's really beautiful and it's overall a really nice palette with tons of shades that I love. It's very sturdy - the pans sit in a plastic insert that actually comes out (as I discovered, to my surprise), so I guess you could put earrings or thin necklaces in it if you wanted to? The top (pictured above) is kind of cushy, and the diamonds are textured and glint rainbow in the light :) It also comes with a little "Get this look" guide.

Here are the names of the shades:

They're printed on a clear plastic insert, which I hate, because I have to remove it every time to use it, but I can't just throw it away either.

As you can see, it's a nice range of colors (earth tones, jewel tones, smoky shades, and some brights thrown in) as well as textures and finishes (matte, shimmer, sparkle, duochrome).

I divided it up into three sections in order to swatch. All swatches were done with my fingers (clean, I promise!) on bare skin.

Earthy tones:

1. Marzipan - matte light beige
2. Totally Nude - matte warm beige
3. Sumatra - matte cool brown
4. Ambient - shimmery orange-bronze
5. Fizz - shimmery champagne pink

6. Midas - shimmery light gold (This one really sucked. I was disappointed.)
7. Cream - shimmery vanilla
8. Sable - matte warm medium brown
9. Zoom - green with a gold shift
10. Roast - dark brown matte with gold sparkles

This is my favorite part of the palette, and not just because of the cute gemstone - I love purples and blues :)

1. Purple mist - metallic blackened purple with a lavender shift
2. Pastel - matte cool pale pink
3. Lilac - metallic blue-based purple
4. Navy - matte navy blue (what it says!)

5. Sapphires - metallic navy
6. Peacock - metallic light turquoise with a gold shift
7. Juniper - slightly shimmery brownish purple
8. Lavender - slightly shimmery lavender (what it says!)

I will probably use this third section the least, not because it's not good, but just because they're the colors I reach for least overall. Usage aside, they are very, very pretty! This section of the palette reminded me MOST of the holidays, especially the last five shades together :)

1. Royal - matte suuuuuper dark eggplant (a little patchy, but fine)
2. Babycakes - shimmery baby peach
3. Snow - matte white (pretty basic)
4. Moonlight - metallic, slightly-glittery white (this one was also a disappointment)
5. Mink - shimmery pale taupey purple (SO pretty, but I wish it was more pigmented)

6. Asteroid - metallic gray 
7. Framboise - metallic, slightly-dark magenta (again, PRETTY, but I wish it was more pigmented)
8. Gypsy - shimmery blackened green (gorgeous!)
9. Smoke - matte dark gray (reminds me of UD's eye pencil of the same name)
10. Cabernet - metallic dark maroon

So, out of the 28 shades, there were only two that I felt were rather unworkable (Midas and Moonlight), but otherwise, the shadows ranged from "pretty good" to "excellent" in terms of texture, blendability, and pigmentation, with the shimmery shades being the most buttery smooth to work with. 

I don't know if I would've considered this palette had it been full price (and had my Ulta coupon not excluded the Naked on the Run palette! *pout*), but I'm really glad I picked it up. It definitely feels luxe, both in terms of eyeshadow quality and in terms of packaging, and I'm looking forward to spending some time getting dolled up for the holidays.


Friday, December 19, 2014

How do you know when you're really a RUNNER?

I'm still basking in the glory of my recent marathon, so this past weekend, as an act of reflection, I went back through all my old blog posts tagged "running." I think it's important to remember your past as it helps shape your future, you know? Sometimes looking back can help you answer questions you have now.

So what did I learn? I learned that I tend to aim high, but I lack the follow-through. I read a lot of sentences that were like, "I didn't train very well" (or at all), or "I didn't do as well as I would've liked," or "I should've done x better." Or "I should've tried harder." I read lots of regret for not pushing myself more. Part of that is me not actually trying hard enough, and part of it is me never thinking anything I do is good enough.

On the other hand, I also read a lot of triumphs and break-throughs, not just in terms of time, but also in terms of mentality - I did stop beating up on myself so much. I started listening to my body more. And especially these past six months, I started focusing more and being more disciplined.

My blog doesn't tell my whole story, and I'm sure my training log could fill in a lot more details, and I looked through my history there too. (I also keep a physical notebook where I just write down the date, the time, and the distance.) It's not surprising that, though I had run more races in 2013 than in 2014 (and ran the same number of races in 2012 as in 2014), I really felt more like a runner this year, especially these last six months, than I ever have before. So what accounted for the difference? What was the change that really made me feel like a runner?

For me, it was not the races themselves, but the all the other runs. I don't have access to the numbers right now, but I can pretty much say that I put in more non-race mileage this year than I have in any other year, even though this was not my first time training for a marathon.

What made me feel like a runner? Running consistently and loving it. I've mentioned many times to friends this year how I've actually grown to LOVE the act of running. Some people only love running once they've stopped running, but I actually feel really happy and childlike when I run. I've been running races for over a decade, but it wasn't until this year that I actually grew to enjoy running and to crave running when I couldn't run. I made running a priority this year because I really, truly learned to embrace it as a passion and really make it a part of my life.

It's not the fact that I've run marathons, and it's definitely not my pace, that makes me a runner. I'm a runner because I run - because I want to run. That's not to say that I never feel tired or that squeezing in a training run during a really busy week doesn't feel like a chore at times - I'm only human after all. But for the most part, I now spend my time wondering not if I'll run, but when, and the idea of skipping a planned run just feels awful to me and I am filled with regret - not out of guilt or self-admonishment, but out of longing. These days, when I can't run (either because I'm busy, or because I'm actually recovering from a run) and I see other runners outside, I actually feel envious!

I'm a runner because I've made running a cherished part of my life. I'm a runner, not because of the races I choose to run, but because I choose to run, period.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Impromptu 5k: The Santa Run

Surprise! Just when I thought I was done racing for 2014, I suddenly felt a burning desire to put on a Santa suit and run a 5k today.

The Santa Run takes place in downtown San Jose, and benefits Christmas in the Park and Downtown ICE (the ice rink). Christmas in the Park has been happening as long as I can remember - there are rides, food, games, animatronic Christmas-themed dioramas, and trees sponsored/decorated by local businesses and groups. (My high school alma mater, which is also in downtown SJ, always had a tree there every year.)

I was itching for a run, and rather than going to my usual trail, I decided to sign up for this 5k, and I brought my daughter and my mother-in-law with me - Jolie's never been to Christmas in the Park, and I figured it was a good time for her to go. (She had a BLAST, by the way.)

So yeah, this is the first time I've ever decided to do a race last minute. I registered on Saturday at packet pick-up, received my race shirt, bib, and Santa costume (complete with pants, jacket, belt, beard, and hat), and was ready to go for the next day.

Let me just say that I am rarely ever up for costuming when I run. I like to be as comfortable as possible, and I don't tend to deviate from my usual running uniform. I've run in a tutu once and hated it. I also never run in a jacket. What possessed me to decide to run in a Santa outfit, I have no idea - I was feeling the holiday spirit, I guess.

It's funny, I couldn't even get the pants to fit. They were cut REALLY oddly, with a very high rise and slim pant legs that would not fit over my athletic thighs, and the entire suit was made of FELT, so there was no stretch. I decided I would wear my normal running outfit but wear the Santa jacket on top of it and also the hat. Also, hell no was I going to run in the beard, although I did try it on just for giggles:

This was also my first time doing an afternoon race - 3pm? Who DOES that? But I figured that, since it was just a 5k, it wouldn't throw me off my game too much. I run that much on my weekday training runs.

So the three of us trekked downtown, and Jolie and my MIL hung out at the park while I went to run my race. There were lots and LOTS of people in Santa attire, and it was a very loose, relaxed atmosphere. I felt kinda dumb GUing before the race, but hey, a fun run is still a run, and runs require fuel.

I didn't have any specific goals aside from coming in under 39:00. (Okay, I guess that IS a specific goal.) I wanted to see if I could run the entire thing straight, since I've spent the last five months running intervals, and I consider it a good test of my own fitness to see how far I can run without stopping.

I made my first mile in about 11:30 (non-stop), and kept going another couple of minutes until I had to stop because I suddenly got a sharp pain in my calf. I tried to walk it off as best I could, and while I was walking, I took the opportunity to re-pin my bib to my shirt and then remove my Santa jacket because I was sweating buckets thanks to the fact that it was 1) long-sleeved and 2) made of FELT, for chrissakes. Yeah, I am never running in a Santa suit ever again. Apparently other people felt the same way, because I saw lots of jackets stuffed into the public trash bins along the sidewalk.

My calf pain abated enough for me to start running again, but it never completely disappeared, so I did take way more walk breaks than I wanted to. To be honest, my calf still hurts right now, a few hours later. (I do not want to hear your "I told you so," okay?) But I made a pretty respectable time - 37:13, which is not a PR, but it's the best time I've run since my PR two years ago. Actually, I didn't run any 5k's at all in 2013, but the two I ran earlier this year were about 43-44 minutes each, so... yeah, a season best? Given all the walking I had to do and how I've only run one mile this entire week (post-marathon), a 12:00 overall pace is pretty awesome. In fact, this was my second fastest 5k time EVER in the history of my running.

Because I am now in my "off-season," I'm only running three days a week, so I've got a couple days to rest up before I run again. So yes, I will listen to my body and take care of my calf now, okay? (It wasn't hurting the entire week before today, I swear.) I'm not sorry I ran this race, but I probably could've picked a better time to try non-stop running. Mea culpa.

Luckily, I had two sweet things waiting for me post-race:

This picture was actually taken pre-race, but whatevs
Okay, NOW, for realsies, I swear... my next race will be the Star Wars Rebel Challenge at Disneyland.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Third time's a charm: California International Marathon race recap

Marathon #3, with a bullet
Everything was beautiful and... okay, some things hurt.

I feel like today's race was fated to go well: it's the 32nd annual CIM, and this year it happened to fall on my birthday - my 32nd birthday. The weather was absolutely perfect (especially considering how last year it was icy, and the year before that, it rained so much that the course was flooded). It's a beautiful day for a PR, yes? 

I knew I was going to PR by default if I met my goal, which was to run a sub-6:00 marathon, to finish within the course limits and record an official time. I know, I know... not a remarkable time by anyone's standards. (Today's winner finished in 2:11, by the way.) But for me, it meant that I would have to stick doggedly to my goal pace, and I've been working super hard for the last five months to make sure that I had it in me.

About to start
The course is a net downhill, which is good for going fast, but it had a LOT of hills. They were all smaller, manageable hills that I could run, but they were occurring every quarter mile or so, and they really start to take a toll on your legs as the miles rack up. We ran completely on pavement, which I'm used to, and there was a LOT of course support, both in terms of spectators and aid stations. Everything was well-organized, from the expo to start-line shuttle buses to the finishers' area. Everything about this race was easy and painless.

Well, except for the race itself, obviously. Well, it was mostly painless, but definitely not easy. Like I said, even though I was running the hills pretty easily for well over the first half, I got tired sooner than I would have liked - I had hoped to stick to my goal pace of 13:00/mile for the first 20 miles and then give myself more time per mile for the last 10k, but after about 18 miles, I decided that I needed to give myself more leeway. I had built up a pretty decent cushion of time, but I didn't KNOW that I would definitely make my goal time until about mile 24.

My quads started doing that twitchy-crampy thing after about 21 or 22 miles, and I couldn't run too much after that, although I could still actually run, which is pretty good. I had managed to stick to my 5/1 interval for about 16 miles and tried to stick to it as best I could for the rest. The last two miles, I was down to doing a 1/1 because my legs were so crampy that I couldn't run much more than a minute at a time. (Yes, I was hydrating plenty.)

Sights along the way
But it kept me going - I kept reminding myself that any amount of running would be better than just walking the rest, and no matter how tired I was, I was still clocking an 11:00 pace for my run portions. Like I said, even though I was feeling really exhausted, I was glad that I could still run even a little bit, because in my last two marathons, I couldn't even walk very well for the last 10k. In fact, at any given point during today's marathon, I felt far better than I did in my other two marathons, so that's something.

So even though I didn't stick to my goal pace as long as I wanted to, I still met my goal time at 5:49:32, which I'm immensely proud of. I started crying as soon as I passed the 26-mile marker, so I'm sure my finish line photo has my face in ugly-cry mode. Even just to finish a marathon, let alone to PR, is very emotionally overwhelming, and to have it happen on my birthday was just icing on the cake. And then checking my messages and emails afterward, I was overwhelmed all over again by all the people who chose to think of me today and who sent me well-wishes for my birthday and/or my run.

It was a really, really good race. All around. I met the friendliest people I've ever met at a race, EVER, and the spectators were out in force. It was amazing. I'm so glad that I was here today, at this race, this year, because (as you may recall) I was supposed to run this one last year and had to drop out due to my injury. It's fate, right? Everything happens for a reason.

Special shout-outs go to: my two CIM partners in crime, Becca and Jeannie; Allison, who came out to cheer me on just after mile 9; Steve, my strength coach, who's been torturing working with me for the last month or so to get me ready; and my ever-patient family who has been putting up with me disappearing for hours every week to work out. And also to EVERYONE who believed in me and sent me good vibes for today.

Also, special kudos to the old dude with the white tutu (a spectator) who set up a boombox and was bopping along to "Shake It Off." I even think he had JUST that song on repeat, because I saw him at two different points along the course, and it was "Shake It Off" both times, and my friends saw him too, and they heard "Shake It Off" too. Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, right?

Next on deck: STAR WARS REBEL CHALLENGE in DISNEYLAND in mid-January. I've got a nice long break to recuperate. I'm looking forward to not running very much until I start this marathon-training process all over again in February, for Vancouver (WA) in June. (Ugh. Somewhere during the last six miles, I was whining to myself in my head, like, "WHHYYYYY did I sign up to do this again in six months???? WHY???")


Tshirt. Women got light blue, men got navy blue

Finishers' area
The Three Musketeers :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Swatches: J. Cat Beauty's Wonder Lip Paint

Last month, I received one of these Lip Paints in my November Ipsy bag (see here for pictures as well as my thoughts on the formula), and I liked it so much that I purchased a few more. They finally arrived, and I had to swatch them right away.

What I got:

- Wonderland, a beautiful blue-leaning turquoise
- Always Late, Rabbit!, a pinkish purple
- Caterpillar Smoke, a bright, warm rosey-pink
- Blabberwocky, a salmon pink
- Red Potion, a blackened berry red
- Queen of Harts, an even more blackened berry red that is more purpley as well
- Curiouser, a warm-ish beige

Some of those colors are totally colors that I always gravitate towards (purple, vampy reds), and some of those are colors that aren't really me (um, the blue!), but at $5 a pop, it's not a big deal, and it's a good opportunity to get those weird colors that I always wish I had every time it's a crazy dress-up day.

Here they are, swatched in the order listed above. They all were thick and glossy, except for Always Late (the purple one), which for some reason came out really watery every time I tried to use it. (I'm inclined to think that this particular tube is an outlier and that maybe the contents of the tube separated and settled in transit.) As you can see, they're all SUPER pigmented. Red Potion and Queen of Harts are very, very similar, but not exactly the same.

Here's how they look in action.

Always Late, Rabbit!
Caterpillar Smoke
Red Potion
Queen of Harts
So yeah. Wonderland is kind of hilarious on me :) I don't think I'll ever be able to pull it off in any context other than a costume context. (As opposed to one of my friends who looks AMAZING in her teal lipstick and can totally just wear it to Target or to pick up her kids from school. Sigh.) Red Potion and Queen of Harts are a bit easier to differentiate in person (the lighting in my photos didn't really help), but they are still very, very similar. Did I really need both? Well... you're asking someone who has about twenty red lipsticks, so... YEAH. I DID. :)

These Lip Paints are fun and pretty good quality. They don't stay on as long as OCC's Lip Tars do, but you can't win 'em all. They apply really well, feel light and moisturizing, and will last you a long time because a little goes a really long way in terms of application - I'm sure I'm pretty much set for life with these now-eight tubes that I own. I definitely recommend these.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

On privilege

It's Thanksgiving, and I want to talk about privilege.

Specifically, mine.

There are people who appear to have a lot of trouble either understanding what privilege really means or recognizing that they do in fact have some, and I want to talk about mine because I'm hoping it will clarify some things in a hopefully non-accusatory way (I will try to police my own tone on this one, but no promises) and also... just to express thanks. It IS Thanksgiving, after all.

So let's begin with what and who I am, in no particular order:
- Asian (specifically, Vietnamese)
- Female
- Graduate-educated
- Upper middle class
- Cisgender
- Heterosexual (though to be honest, I would call myself "heteroflexible" or "curious")
- English-speaking
- American-born (to immigrant parents)
- Physically and mentally able
- Fat
- Atheist
- Unmarried

As you can see, there are areas where I have privilege and areas where I don't.

I'm heterosexual (for all intents and purposes), and I'm in a hetero relationship. And despite being unmarried (which comes with all its own judgments), if I wanted to get married, I would have NO problem. It will not be my marriage ever being protested on the front of a newspaper. The legality of my hypothetical marriage would never be threatened. When I look around in pop culture, the vast majority of relationships being depicted are hetero ones. I will never be bullied about the people I love. If I ever move out of California, I will never have to worry about getting fired because of my sexual preference.

I'm also cisgender (which means that my body has female parts, and I identify as female), which means that I will never know what it's like to be at odds with my own body, and I will never be forced to use the bathroom for a gender I don't identify with (and no one will bat an eyelash if I use the bathroom for the gender I DO identify with), and I will never have to correct anyone about my name or my pronouns. I will never be bullied, harassed, or murdered for being cisgender.

I'm an English-speaking American citizen. I can move through life and through the world easily because of this. And I know how hard it can be if you're a non-English-speaking immigrant, because that was most of my family right there. I grew up seeing how hard it could be.

I have no physical handicaps and no mental illness. I can walk and run, I can drive a car, I can interact with people to survive, and no one will think I pose any danger due to my mental state.

My biggest one is my financial and educational privilege, and yes, I lump them together. I am not only educated with an advanced degree, but I went to private schools for most of my life and have never had to work to pay for it. Thanks to my parents, who have well-paying jobs and who were therefore able to make education (and not merely survival) MY priority, I have been set up to succeed. My house has always been filled with books and the latest tech equipment. I have never had to sacrifice study time for a paycheck (or vice versa). Even now, despite the fact that I'm in a career field that is notoriously low paying, it's still a white-collar job with tenure and benefits for myself and my daughter, in one of the most expensive areas to live in the entire country. I have a roof over my head, and I can go to the doctor when I'm sick, and I can even afford Whole Foods -type groceries to feed my family if I wanted to. I have access to birth control, which means that I'm not forced to bear child after child. I even have some room to pay for my hobbies - running, knitting, makeup, derby - and I have the time for these hobbies because I don't have to work multiple jobs to support my family.

And while, yes, money can open a lot of doors, it doesn't protect me from everything.

Money can't save me from a lifetime of being told that I'M the one who has to take measures to keep myself from GETTING raped. Money can't save me from a lifetime of being told that because I'm fat, I am disgusting and deserve to be invisible. Money can't save me from the scores of "Where are you from? No, where are you REALLY from?" questions and the stereotypes and lack of representation of complex, well-written characters in all forms of media.

I'm female, which means that my body exists to be judged and commented on. It means that I would've been judged for NOT having children, but it also means that, since I DID have a child, I will still be judged for my choices regarding the birthing and raising of that child. It means that if I'm ever sexually assaulted, it will be MY character that is called into question, and not my attacker's, especially if the attacker is someone I know or have previously interacted with (as opposed to a lurking stranger). It means that I'm expected to take my husband's last name if I ever get married, and not vice versa, because marriage historically has been a contract that positions women as the property of their husbands. It means that when I go out in public, whether I'm going running or just trying to get from point A to point B, I'm vulnerable to men whistling at me or telling me that they'd like to c*m on my toes. (Yes, that actually happened. And no, I did not take it as a compliment.)

But... I'm a cisgender female, which means that no matter how difficult I have it as a woman, I still have it easier than trans women. This is called intersectionality. I'm not saying it's easy being female, but things could be a lot worse, because I have privilege in other areas.

I'm Asian, which means that I grew up never seeing many Asian people on my tv screen, unless it was something kung fu-related. I grew up seeing people put on my culture's traditional garb like a costume. I grew up painfully aware of Asian dragon-lady stereotypes and as I became an adult, I could also add "yellow fever" to the mix. At many points in my life, I've been asked to speak on behalf of Asian people (as a token), I've been asked things like, "Do Asians really eat dogs?" and "Can you teach me some curse words in your language?", and I constantly, every day, deal with living in this other space of being Asian and American. I grew up feeling American and identifying as American, being told by my family and my friends that I was "white-washed," and then went to a REALLY white college where I absolutely felt the weight of my otherness just by looking around at all the other faces.

But... and I'm going to be blunt here... Asians have it easier than other races. I would even dare assert that we are the second most-privileged race, and that has a whole lot to do with the Model Minority stereotype, which is insidiously damaging and contributes to anti-black and anti-Latino prejudice and oppression. Also, as a "full" Asian, I have it easier than people who are multiracial, who are visibly othered no matter which side of their family they turn to. I'm not saying it's easy being Asian, but things could be a lot worse, because I have privilege in other areas.

So, I have privilege in many ways, and in some ways, I don't have privilege.

Let's talk about what privilege is and what it isn't. While I've been talking a lot about the privilege that I do have, privilege isn't necessarily a personal, individual thing. It's a system. My own personal running-related analogy is that life is a race course, and when you have privilege, it's a nice, flat, paved road, and when you don't have privilege, it's a steep hill. Regardless of whether or not you have privilege, you still have to run the distance - no one can do it for you - and you still have to deal with pot holes, dog poop, and occasional less-than-ideal weather, but depending on how much privilege you have, your course might be otherwise perfectly flat, or it might comprised of gentle rolling hills, or it might be the toughest, steepest streets of San Francisco. Me? I have some hills, but it's otherwise manageable. I am extremely, extremely grateful for the privilege I have.

So what does this all mean? Well, it means I have choices I can make about my life, choices that are not afforded to everyone. For example, I can choose to be complacent and just continue on through life without paying attention to anyone around me. OR, I can choose to open my eyes, realize the struggles of those around me, and try to help. I can choose to be an ally.

To use my running analogy, if I see someone struggling off to the side, I will stop to check and see if they're okay. I will give them my extra Gu if they need it, or I will find an aid station or use my phone to call for help if they need it. And the key is "if they need it" - listening is a really important part of being a good ally.

I'm choosing to be an ally. I'm not perfect, and I don't get everything right, but I'm trying, and I'm willing to apologize and correct myself when I do something wrong.

This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for my privilege, and I vow to use it for good.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Instagram post: Purple for daaaaaaays

I have purple hair now :)

My November Ipsy bag, featuring J. Cat Beauty's Wonder Lip Paint

November's Ipsy theme was Girl Meets Glitter. After not being terrifically impressed with the last couple of bags, I was pretty happy with this one, which had a nice variety of items:

- Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil hairspray
- Be a Bombshell eye base in Submissive
- Laura Mercier Invisible Loose Setting Powder in Universal, with a mini fan brush
- Elizabeth Mott You're So Fine Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Glitterati
- J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in Mad Splatter

I also cashed in some Ipsy points for a full-sized bareMinerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow in Elegant Taupe:

I liked the smaller sized version enough that I didn't mind getting a full-sized one in taupe, because you know how I am about taupe :)

Swatches, top row: Elizabeth Mott eyeliner, bareMinerals cream eye shadow
Swatches, bottom row: Be a Bombshell eye base, J. Cat Lip Paint

In particular, I was most interested in the Lip Paint. If you look at the packaging, they are obviously meant to mimic OCC Lip Tars. But how did they perform in comparison?

It's VERY similar. There's a very subtle difference in texture, and I don't know if other shades of the J. Cat would be the same or not (because sometimes it's a matter of the finish or the materials used to produce the shade): OCC Lip Tar is definitely a liquid lipstick, and it spreads the way paint does, whereas the Lip Paint is more jelly-like, and spreads more like a gloss, albeit a very thick, very pigmented gloss. Aside from that very subtle difference, it feels the same on, but it doesn't have the same staying power (and staining power) that Lip Tar does - it definitely wipes off much, much more easily. Still, considering how it's, like, $5 a tube compared to $18, I think I'm going to be seeking out dupes for the Lip Tar shades that I couldn't justify buying before. It's buttery and moisturizing, and costs less than the average drugstore lipstick.

I did also try wearing the eye base all by itself - since it's a lovely gold - and the eyeliner. Both were largely unimpressive - not bad, but unimpressive. In my opinion, calling yourself a waterproof eyeliner means nothing to me if you can't last throughout a workday plus a strength session at the gym. Both items are things I don't mind adding to my stash, because they each serve a useful purpose, but I won't necessarily reach for them first.

Overall, I thought this month's Ipsy bag was better than previous months'. I think I will keep my subscription for longer.

If you would like to sign up for Ipsy and give it a try, you are welcome to use my referral link here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Race recap: Mermaid Run SF Sirena 10-miler

Yep, the selfie game is STRONG with this one.
This past week was my first "off" week since maybe early September. Going into the race today, I'd only run four miles (though, I was coming off a 28-mile week). For various reasons, I was just really off my game this week.

But still, I was excited to run this. I did the inaugural Sirena 10-miler last year with my knee injury, and though I enjoyed the race anyway, it definitely wasn't a great performance. I was looking to redeem myself today, even with being off my game.

I woke up at 4:30am, which is not so different from my weekday runs, except getting up early to DRIVE feels way worse than getting up to run. I know that sounds weird, but seriously, once you start running, your body wakes up.

It was surprisingly not very cold when we got there. The last couple of weeks, my long runs in Los Gatos were 48 degrees at the start, and by general rule of thumb, San Francisco is colder than the South Bay, so imagine my surprise when I was fine with just my short-sleeve shirt (that I even had to roll up to make a makeshift tank top halfway through).

The first three miles for me were actually literally painful - I was limping-running. There are a few reasons for this that I can tell:

- I hadn't run since Wednesday
- I had two hamstring-heavy strength sessions this week
- My right shoelace was rather loose, which gave me killer shin pain (but was quickly and easily remedied), and
- (Probably the biggest reason) I finished my first mile in 12:15. This includes two minutes of walking and the slow slog through the starting chute, btw.

That last one, seriously! I went out way too fast. I didn't even realize how fast I was going - I just ran. But considering the first three reasons and the fact that my legs take at least two miles to warm up anyway, I should've known better and forced myself to slow down, even if I already thought I was going slow (which I wasn't).

So mile 1 was flat and straight, but miles 2 and 3 are the WORST. They're the two BIG hill miles, to get you up to the bridge, and considering how I was already in pain, I pretty much had to walk those, both up and down the hills. But it gave me a chance to warm up and gently work through the pain, and by the time I got up to the bridge, I was golden ;)

Too bad the bridge itself wasn't. Golden, I mean. It was quite shrouded in fog for almost the whole way. This is GREAT for running - it kept me cool and it kept me from seeing too far ahead of me (and stressing over how much further I had to go) - but it was not so great for trying to see the spectacular views (which, let's face it, why ELSE would sign up to run the Golden Gate Bridge?) But like I said, it made for great running conditions, and aside from worrying about slipping on the wet ground, I ran my BEST paces I've ever run in TWO YEARS (since the 2012 Mermaid SF, when I PRed my 5k time). At one point, I think I ran three consecutive miles at around an 11:40 pace, and I think at some other point, I actually ran an entire mile in 11:05 (or so says my Garmin). Again, keep in mind that this is my overall pace, and that I was running a 4/1 interval, so my running parts must have been faaaaaaaast. We ran up one side of the bridge, had to walk down stairs to cross under it, and then had to walk up stairs to get onto the other side. Stairs, Mermaid Series? REALLY?

It wasn't all gray, though. Once I reached the halfway mark, at Vista Point, the fog suddenly ended and we were bathed in sunlight. I could not resist getting out my phone for some pictures, because how often am I ever on the north side of the Golden Gate?

So, miles 4-7 take you up the bridge and back, mile 8 takes you gradually down hills and around Fort Point, and then miles 9 and 10 take you on the dirt/sand path to the finish. Those last two miles are pretty difficult because of the dirt, and because it just feels interminable.

I finished in 2:10:00 flat (I love when I get even numbers!), which was my goal time anyway, and this is pretty remarkable because I did the first three miles in 45:00 and the remaining seven miles in 1:25:00. So my average pace for the first three miles was 15:00, and my average pace for the remaining seven, after I was pain-free and sufficiently warmed-up, was 12:08, which is pretty darn fast for me, considering (again) that I do run/walk intervals. So yeah, at one point in this race, I ran a 17:58 mile, and at another point, I ran an 11:05 mile. Hills, man.

So yeah, despite the first three miles, I'm really happy with how I did today, and considering how my time last year was 2:47:33, I would say that I redeemed myself BIG TIME today.

Next on deck: THE CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL MARATHON, ON MY 32ND BIRTHDAY. We are less than a month away. Next week's Sunday run is the dreaded 20-miler, and then... we taper.




Finishers' necklace

Pause and reflect

I haven't written a blog post in almost a year. I've had a lot of stuff happen, some good and some bad, and I could've written a...