Why I’m not buying a Powerball ticket

This ever-increasing Powerball jackpot has prompted a lot of conversations revolving around what people would do if they won.

I appreciate that people enjoy dreaming, and they’re willing to spend a couple of bucks on lottery tickets to fuel those dreams, but I’m not buying a ticket, because I don’t have ten-figure dreams. I don’t even have seven-figure dreams. Everything I want is either free or within reach using resources I already have.

I want another marathon. I can’t buy that. I have to earn it, and the only way to do that is to get up off my arse and train.

I want my hair to grow out and finish turning gray. I can’t buy that, either; I just have to let time do its work.

I want to get up every morning and watch the sun rise over Tucumcari Mountain. It will take money to move, but I don’t need a billion dollars; I just need to pay off my mortgage so I can afford to work for a smaller paper. A lottery jackpot would do that overnight, but I’d lose something precious in the process.

Y’all know I’m a road-trip junkie. I never fly anywhere I can drive, because I enjoy the trip itself almost as much as I enjoy the destination. In many ways, this quest to move to New Mexico is the ultimate road trip. It’s slow. It’s tiring. But it’s teaching me lessons I’d never learn otherwise, showing me things I’d never see otherwise, and introducing me to people I’d never meet otherwise.

If I had a plane ticket — or a winning Powerball ticket, as the case may be — I’d end up flying right over all the sights and lessons and experiences this journey has to offer.

A bed at the Blue Swallow is never more comfortable than when I’ve driven 14 hours to get to it. This is the magic of the road, and I trust it will hold true for my current journey: That first sunrise over Tucumcari Mountain will be that much more dazzling, that first bite of green chile stew at Watson’s that much spicier, and that first sopapilla at the Pow Wow that much sweeter for having been hard-won.

I wouldn’t trade the spoils of that journey for a billion dollars.

Emily

Exploring

I explored a new part of the trail today. Instead of running the section of the trail that goes north to the Osage Centre, I took the section that goes south to the Shawnee Park Center. A small section was flooded out near the soccer fields, but once it dries out, it will be a good route for shorter training runs, as it’s about a 3.5-mile loop from my house to the trail, around the soccer fields, and back to the house along a couple of streets.

I missed my five-mile run this weekend because the weather was terrible, and my schedule wasn’t conducive to running at the Osage Centre. I don’t feel particularly bad about it, because my long-distance running buddy — who is training on a treadmill on a submarine somewhere on the other side of the world — was on shore leave and missed two runs last week due to an erratic schedule, so I told him we’d just start over on the same schedule this week. (That might have been an inadvertent lie, though; when I’m feeling good and I have time to spare, I have a tendency to keep running beyond whatever distance I was planning that day.)

In other news, I put my bedroom back together. I still have a couple of walls to finish this weekend, but I really like the effect thus far; something about the color and the technique give the room kind of a La Posada vibe. Very soothing.

bedroompaint

I’m thinking of doing the same technique in the office, only in shades of pale green so it feels like spring.

Oh, and I had kind of a breakthrough last night: I got stuck at the office late and ended up coming home well after midnight and sitting up until 3 a.m. — something I used to do routinely — and sometime around 2:45, I started to feel as gross as I do after I’ve pulled an all-nighter. There’s a point at which my body just starts to shut down because I’m overtired, but it usually happens around 6 a.m. I thought my circadian rhythm was shifting a little bit, and that just kind of confirmed it. My natural bedtime is usually somewhere around 3 a.m., but for the past few weeks, I’ve been getting sleepy enough to go to bed before 2. That doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it’s huge. Dunno if it’ll last, but it’d be nice if it did.

Emily

Rainy-day project

I had a five-mile run scheduled for today, but the weather righteously sucks and I felt as if I might be coming down with a cold Thursday and Friday, so I spent the day indoors, sanding drywall joints and painting the bedroom instead. The run probably would have been an easier workout, to be honest, but if the weather is better tomorrow, I’ll hit the trail in the morning; if not, I’ll put in 15 miles or so on the bike.

I’m rag-painting the bedroom walls to give them a sort of parchment look and conceal the flaws in my drywall job. Here are a few photos of my work thus far. (Excuse the fuzziness of the photos; the lighting in there isn’t great, and I didn’t feel like breaking out my Canon in the middle of a home-improvement project.)

walls1

walls2

walls3

This is the first time I’ve taped drywall joints. My work isn’t perfect, but it looks exponentially better than the globby, cracked mess it replaced, so I’m calling that a win. With the drywall repair and the paint job, the walls look much nicer. I want to paint a trompe l’oeil picture window in there at some point, but that’s a project for another week. For now, I’m content with the faux-parchment surface.

Emily

Easing back toward the veg life

As I mentioned the other day, I’m hoping to make the transition from a meat-heavy diet to a more plant-based diet this year.

My primary reason is athletic: Done right, a vegetarian diet is a near-perfect way to fuel a marathon training program. (When I say “done right,” I mean heavy on whole grains, legumes and minimally processed vegetables, not the classic “Beer and potato chips are vegan, right?” diet of my misspent youth.)

The contents of my freezer are sort of forcing me to ease into this slowly: I’ve got about five pounds of frozen chicken down there, a metric crap-ton of cheese tortellini, God alone knows how many pepperoni pizza rolls, and a pantry full of canned tuna. But Ron likes the pizza rolls better than I do, so I’m leaving those for him to make whenever the day’s menu involves something he doesn’t like, and I’m starting the transition by simply eliminating red meat from my own diet.

We made our quarterly trip up to Costco in St. Louis today in hopes of finding vegetarian convenience foods I could keep in the freezer for quick meals. They didn’t have the veggie burgers and fake corn dogs I wanted, so I wound up with a big bag of quinoa and kale divvied up into microwave-friendly steamer bags, a bag of edamame, and an eight-pack of canned organic black beans — not as much fun as corn dogs, but probably better choices for boosting endurance.

My menu for this week is split pretty neatly among vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and pesco-pollo-vegetarian meals, which is the easiest way to make the shift. If you’re interested in attempting a similar diet, here’s what I’ve got planned:

SATURDAY:
Sweet potato tacos

SUNDAY:
Chicken tikka masala (chicken breasts simmered in prefabbed tikka masala sauce, served over whole-wheat couscous)

MONDAY:
Burritos (refried pinto beans, shredded cheddar, salsa in a big flour tortilla)

TUESDAY:
Lunch: Breakfast burritos (diced potatoes, scrambled eggs, green chile, shredded cheddar, salsa in a big flour tortilla)

WEDNESDAY:
Lemon-tahini pasta (this is a recipe I’m making up as I go, but it’s basically capellini tossed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic)

THURSDAY:
Beans and green chile cornbread

FRIDAY:
Vegetarian lasagna

To use up the tuna in the pantry, I’ll be making a lot of tuna salad — my version is a can of tuna mixed with 2 tbsp. each of mayo and dill relish and a couple of finely chopped celery stalks. I scored 5 lbs. of Clementines for $5.99 at Costco today, so I’ll be eating a lot of those as recovery snacks after runs. (Oranges are really high in potassium, so an orange sprinkled with chile-lime salt is a great way to replace electrolytes after a run.) I’m also a fan of nooch nachos, and the freezer is still well-stocked with ingredients for smoothies, so I see a lot of that in my future, too.

Emily

A view from the (old) bridge

I logged three hilly miles this morning and stopped briefly to snap a quick iPhone picture from the overlook where the old bridge used to cross the Mississippi River. The water level has dropped about 10 feet since I was out there Monday, but the river is still high enough to move a lot faster than usual. It’ll be a while before the floodgates reopen and I can run along the river walk.

I’m getting my legs back. Monday’s run was ridiculously slow — 43 minutes, according to my Fitbit — but I covered the same distance today and a little bit more in 32 minutes and managed to run negative splits in the process, largely because I got distracted, missed a walk interval, and ended up running 1000:100 intervals instead of 500:100 on the second half of the run. Hopefully I’ll keep picking up speed as I go. I think my fastest 5K was just under 28 minutes, and I’d like to get back to that pace if I can.

I’ve got a very slow five-miler planned for Saturday morning, assuming the weather cooperates; if it doesn’t, I’ll have to score a rainsuit somewhere, because I am completely unwilling to go anywhere near a gym in January.

Emily

Marathon training

As I mentioned in my list of goals the other day, my BFF and I made a pact to run a marathon this year — his first; my first in a decade.

We started our training program yesterday with a three-mile run and continued today with a four-miler. Both runs were fairly easy, mainly because I’m using the Jeff Galloway approach, which involves building in walk breaks at planned intervals to help reduce the risk of injuries and maintain a sustainable pace for the duration of the run.

I used to base my intervals on time: Run five minutes, walk one. I know other runners who base their intervals on distance: Run a mile, walk a minute. Both methods have their merits, but this fall, I began experimenting with the idea of basing my breaks on steps rather than time or distance. I may never bother with a stopwatch again.

Your mileage may vary, but here are the advantages I found on my runs using the step-counting method:

1. More consistent effort expended between walking intervals. When I use the stopwatch, I end up running a lot more steps in five minutes at the beginning of a run than I do at the end.

2. More effort in general. If a quicker pace gets me to my break faster, I’m probably going to run harder between breaks, and I’m less tempted to slow down when I’m tired. Theoretically, running a specific distance between breaks would accomplish the same thing, but distance is harder to measure reliably.

3. It’s easier to keep track of, especially in cold weather. I have an iPhone with a stopwatch and GPS on it, but I have no idea where I put my touchscreen-sensitive gloves, so if I’m trying to track time or distance on my phone, I have to take off my gloves and coax it out of sleep mode every time I want to check. Instead, I use a cheap mechanical lap counter, logging a “lap” every 100 steps.

4. It makes a long run feel more manageable. I have something to think about besides how tired I am as the mileage increases, and I get a little psychological boost from clicking the lap counter every 100 steps. Never underestimate the value of a mental lift on a long run. Distance running is more mental than physical, and every little nudge helps.

Emily

Sustainability on a shoestring

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