August 24: Capitol Deal

Thus far, I have resisted the whole social coupon phenomenon. Friends on Facebook bragged about the awesome deals they found on GroupOn or LivingSocial. I, however, remained unimpressed. Just like with coupons from the Sunday newspaper, I knew better than to hop on that bandwagon. I always spent more than I would have with coupons than without. I mean, who can resist $0.50 for Oreos?!?! Yea, yea don’t buy it if you don’t need it, but it’s $0.50 for $4 cookies. The psychology of a good deal is really overpowering.

Well, I decided to try out this coupon thing today. I ride Metro to work, and during morning rush our, the Washington Post provides a free Express newspaper. It’s a quick read, and since people don’t actually like to speak to other people in this city, it’s something productive to do during my 25 minute commute. I noticed the daily ad for Capitol Deals which has three brands: one for merchandise or retail, one for food, and one for travel. I didn’t start paying attention to them until last week when Ben and Jerry’s stores in the area were running a year supply for $69 (2 pints per month). I had to talk myself out of that deal because I don’t eat ice cream like that and I was already watching my waistline grow. That run on the National Mall would have to happen daily, in addition to whatever fitness DVD I did in the morning lol…It’s so not worth it!

But Wednesday, I saw a deal I could live with: $25 for painting and wine, or $49 for two people. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at painting, and $25 did not seem like an unreasonable price to pay when all the supplies are provided. So I invited my cousin and bought the voucher this morning! I think the activity will be a great bonding experience and just plain fun! The worst that happens is I have to use my painting for laundry room art instead of living room art lol. But I’m super excited. We have until February 2013 to redeem the voucher, and each month the establishment posts a calendar with paintings of the month. For those unfamiliar with these painting and wine events, everyone paints the same portrait. As with ice skating, I may turn out to be a better painter than I expected. The last time I painted was with Crayola paints in elementary school. I hope I’ve improved from a refrigerator painter just by virtue of being older lol. In the event I enjoy myself exceedingly well, then the regular price of $50 per person is not so bad for free art for my office or for home. And who knows, Mama might still like to display her daughter’s art *smile*

August 20: Running on the National Mall

Moving, especially for a new job, is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I have not worked out consistently since May. I finally felt comfortable enough after 5 weeks to venture out for a run around my neighborhood. In my part of town, people don’t really exercise outdoors (and likely not at all). I committed to running for 20 minutes, which I knew was about all I could manage having not run in months and having not worked out in 2.5 weeks (I mistakenly thought the mile I walk each day was doing something for me cardiovascularly). To compound my issue, almost all of my run was uphill! So yeah, for two days I was walking quite gingerly.

My cousin, whom I live with, invited me to go running with his friends after work. I am not an after work exerciser, but I couldn’t resist the lure of running on the Mall. When my cousin said he planned to run from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, which turns out to be about 4.6 miles, I said I would do 2. We missed the rain, so the weather was perfect for running and the sand paths were well-packed and a great running surface. Since my cousin is preparing for the FBI fitness test, he had a different purpose for running, i.e., speed. He charted the course for me and said we’d meet at the WWII Memorial. Off he went. I knew better than to keep up with him, but I was trying to keep my eye on him until I oriented myself with just where I was on the Mall.

I was done by the time I reached the WWII Memorial. I prayed for red lights so I could have a reprieve as I waited to cross the street. I kept wondering how I could be so out of shape. I mean, I just ran hills two days before! A mile shouldn’t wear me out like that. I told my cousin that I was walking back to the car, and he told me no. I was given as much time as I needed to recover, and we started back toward the car.

The thing about running is you can spend lots of time with your thoughts (I think it’s unsafe to run outdoors with earphones on, so I don’t listen to music.). As my body began to rack with great discomfort, I couldn’t help but be reminded that I felt about as bad as I did running across the finish line of my first race, which was a 10K. I wanted to stop running, but I drew on my experience at the Flying Pig and willed myself to the end. The other thing I realized was that I was running a lot more than 2 miles. The most important lesson I learned running last night was that if I am going to continue to run with my cousin in the evenings, I have to do better about fueling my body. Cookies and a PB&J sandwich were such bad choices! I’m embarrassed to even type it, but it’s the truth.

I managed to make it back to the Capitol where my cousin was waiting. I was so nauseous when I should have been feeling awesome. Fortunately, the scenery more than made up for my ill-planned run. I mean, why not enjoy the time spent working out? And what better than taking in the sights of our Nation’s capital!?!? It was a relief and a beautiful sight seeing the U.S. Capitol lit up at against the dusk sky as I made my final push down the Mall. For just a moment, I forgot about my discomfort and savored the moment. It’s going to be really pretty to run in the Fall, and I’m looking forward to it. I plan to be on the Mall every Monday I am able to run. I’m in the process of setting goals, but the end goal is to run from the Capitol to the Jefferson Memorial, which I estimate is about 6 miles round trip. The Jefferson Memorial is my favorite monument. It’s so serene by the Tidal Basin because very few people take the time to walk the extra distance. Framed by cherry blossoms, it’s so beautiful. But before I get my personal 10K on, I have to manage running from the Capitol to the WWII Memorial and back. As it turns out, the distance round trip is about 4 miles, and I ran it in 33 minutes, which includes the time I was stopped at lights. So while my poor running-day diet was highly problematic, the fact that I was averaging sub-10 minute pace for that distance was more likely my issue. It is refreshing, however, to know that with proper conditioning, I should be able to put up some personal bests in future races!
I guess walking one mile a day during the work week has been helping a sista out *smile*