Monday, October 27, 2014

First Art: Sedona by Sebastian Alappat

I've been meaning to write about the wonderful painting that Sourabh and I commissioned from Sebastian Alappat for a while now, but I wanted to do it in the context of a home tour. Unfortunately, it turns out that putting together our apartment has taken much longer than we expected. And by "much longer" I mean, it's kind of fallen by the wayside. Things are more or less put together, but I don't feel like the apartment is 100% settled into or deserving of an apartment tour.

Since I didn't want to put off posting about the painting forever, I figured I'd share the process and painting now! 

Sourabh and I both liked the idea of getting some original art that would make our apartments feel more like a home. One thing we both love about my parents' home is how they've filled it with art, and we hope to do the same thing. Sebastian and I discussed the piece of art over the summer, however I had basically no idea of what I wanted or where I wanted to go with a piece. 

I had some vague ideas, but really no direction. Sebastian helped me narrow down to the travel/journey concept. I wanted to use maps, so we decided to uses pieces of maps from places that Sourabh and I have lived. 

From there, I talked about the colors I imagined. I wanted to use the palette of the American Southwest -- the vivid oranges, the deep blues. I sent some pictures from Sourabh and my road trip last year, and Sebastian instantly picked up on the snapshots from Sedona. Both Sourabh and I loved Sedona, so it seemed like a natural fit. 

Sebastian based the painting on this picture I snapped of the rock we hiked/ran around:

I wanted a more modern/abstract take on it -- something chunky, with an almost finger painted quality -- so the painting is in no way meant to be a mirror image. Instead, it's more of an inspiration point.

What I realized after we decided on this picture as inspiration was that it's actually Courthouse Rock. Pretty apt since both Sourabh and I work in the legal field!

Since our cross-country move came together so quickly, there was a bit of a scramble to get the painting completed so that it could be properly shipped. We didn't want to have to worry about taking a 3 ft by 3 ft painting on a plane! 

On moving day last month, Sebastian dropped off the finished work:

I was elated to see it, but unfortunately it immediately got packed up and stored on a moving truck for three weeks! 

In the last week of September, our furniture finally arrived and we were able to permanently unwrap the painting. It's currently hanging above our couch, adding some vibrant color to our living room.

From far away you can't see the map detail, but if you take a closer look, you can see the maps showing through. There are pieces of maps of places we've lived or, in the case of Chicago, places that are meaningful to us.  

It was so much fun to collaborate with Sebastian on this piece and see the beautiful finished product. Sebastian also does some really cool yoga and comics-inspired work. Sebastian is married to my awesome former trainer, Amanda, which is how I learned about his work, and it's allowed me to see a lot of his pieces in progress, which has been really neat. I am so excited to watch him continue to build his artwork collection, even if I can no longer see it in person!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Training for Training

Two weeks ago, I started an intensive training program with a former pro runner who now trains at my local Equinox. I went in for an EquiFit analysis, to measure my body fat, inches, etc. I'd lost a bit of weight simply from being busy and not eating that much through the whole sister's wedding, moving cross-country thing. But I also hadn't been in any semblance of a fitness regime and I really wanted to get back into concentrated training. I missed having purpose to my workouts rather than aimlessly lifting things now and then at the gym.

I wasn't very pleased with my EquiFit results. Sure, my weight was down, but my body fat was up from marathon training (shocker, right?), and every run has reminded me that I'm not in the same shape I was last year. Which is fine -- priorities change. But I want to train for a spring half marathon PR, not just run a race, and I want to take advantage of the incredible running weather California has.

My mom visited last week, and in the middle of October, she was walking in a sundress on the beach. Like I said, incredible weather.

Since I'd mentioned that my interest was in running, Equinox paired me up with Melanie, a former pro runner. She showed me the kind of plan she'd put me through (strength training three times a week -- twice with her and once on my own, cardio three times a week, nutritional guidance, and I had to promise to foam roll and stretch). I chatted with Sourabh and he agreed with my idea that training for six weeks was a good idea since it takes six weeks to form a habit (supposedly), meaning this would help me get back into the running/fitness groove. Essentially, I'm training to get ready for ... training.

Two weeks down and four to go! Here's some of what we've been focused on:

Hip Mobility

Several of the exercises we've been doing focus on my tight hips. Melanie wants to increase mobility and range of movement. She's had me doing lateral movements over hurdles and side lateral squats. I've also been instructed to foam roll my hips and stretch them as much as possible throughout the day while sitting at the desk.

I want to be as mobile as ... this dog? On the beach? Yeah, if you hadn't noticed, I'm just sticking California pictures in here.

Attention to Heart Rate

I've just started my third week and so far I've been surprised with the strides I've made. On Saturday, I needed to do steady state cardio with the aim being a 150ish heart rate (roughly 60% of my max heart rate). After warming up, I started around a 9:00 mile, thinking that was probably right. Nope. Not even close. I ended up running 30 minutes at around an 8:15 pace.

That's fast for me, especially at my current fitness level, or at least that's what my brain said. I didn't think I'd be able to hang on for the prescribed amount of time. But I'm nothing if not a teacher's pet, and Melanie tasked me with hitting that heart rate for a set amount of time, so I did it. And honestly I could have kept running for a while longer which I don't think I'd ever have realized if I hadn't been monitoring the heart rate and letting that set the speed.

Actually related: I had an awesome interval run along the Back Bay yesterday using the heart rate levels as a guide for effort.

I've never utilized heart rate training before and am really enjoying learning more about my cardiovascular performance. It's making me pay attention to the science of running and exercise much more than in the past. I'm really excited to put the knowledge I'm gaining about my cardiovascular potential to use when I start officially half marathon training (probably December, I'm thinking).

Protein, Protein, Protein

In order to lean out and build up the leg muscles that will fire me down the road toward a shiny PR, Melanie focused on my protein intake. Melanie has me at more than 150 grams of protein a day which I was in no way, shape or form getting previously, mainly because I wasn't focusing on it and I gravitate more toward carbs. But there are a lot of simple things I've done that have made it easier -- instead of morning-of oatmeal, doing overnight oatmeal with Greek yogurt. Eating cottage cheese with chopped up strawberries as a late afternoon snack. Finding protein-rich carbs like quinoa, farro and, of course, oats.

In no way did Melanie suggest giving up carbs, but as she noted, they come pretty naturally (to me, especially), and getting enough protein during these six weeks is going to be the focus.

Last night's sunset. California is really, really, ridiculously good looking.

I feel like I have to include a major caveat to this post. Equinox memberships are expensive. My first year was heavily subsidized by my previous firm, but going forward we're paying the normal one-location rate. Working with a trainer at Equinox is also expensive.

You might have noticed -- or at least, I hope it's come across -- that while I've mentioned long hours, I have never complained about my job as a corporate lawyer. Yes, obviously, part of that is simply the fact that it is poor form to complain about your job online (the Internets never forget!). Part of it is that I *generally* like my work. But another large part is that there are few jobs where I could, as a 26 year-old, make a very good salary. Sure, right now I'm using it to pay off my massive student debt, but it still allows me to indulge in good food and spend money on luxuries like an expensive six week training program.

I am never going to try to prescribe this kind of training to anyone else because it would be incredibly privileged and ostrich-like to assume that everyone can just hire a trainer for an intensive get-me-back-on-the-road-to-running-fitness plan. I feel very lucky that I have the ability to do this (and that Sourabh worked an extra month this summer which made up for the unexpected four weeks I was unemployed!). However, maybe by sharing what Melanie is having me work on, it can be a bit helpful or, at the very least, a bit interesting.

Anyone have any questions about this strength and heart rate-focused base building?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sparkly Soul Headband Giveaway!

Hi guys!

My first week of work last week went very well. I'm in love with my office view, I really like the people I'm working with so far, and the work itself has been interesting.

Maybe I'm just...

... slightly obsessed with my view. I stare out of it fairly frequently and pretend I'm having deep legal thoughts.

I've also gotten a few runs in around the beautiful Back Bay near Newport Beach. It's currently my favorite place to run.

Anyway, on to more exciting things...

Sparkly Soul Headband Giveaway!

So over the summer I became a Sparkly Soul Ambassador. I've mentioned before how much I LOVE these headbands. I have thick but fine hair and almost no headbands will stay on my head.

Here's a Sparkly Soul headband sticking to my head in the Grand Canyon...

I have wispy hairs around my face that are really annoying to deal with when I get sweaty, so I have to wear a headband, but before I found Sparkly Soul headbands I couldn't get one that stuck to my head. 

... here's one sticking with me post-sweaty workout while volunteering at the NYC Marathon ...

This is a total champagne problem, obviously, but that doesn't lessen my dedication to Sparkly Soul for their awesome product. I'm proud to be an ambassador for the company and its headbands.

... and here's one pre-5K. It also stuck with me for my full marathon last October!

Now, the good news for you! I've partnered with Sparkly Soul to do a fall giveaway! If you win, you can choose the color and width of your choice. I'll randomly pick two winners on Friday, October 17, so be sure to get your entry in by 11:59 p.m. PST on Thursday, October 16.

Here's how to enter:

  1. Follow Sparkly Soul on Twitter and post a comment saying that you followed them (or post a comment saying you already follow them).
  2. Like Sparkly Soul on Facebook and post a separate comment saying you liked them (or post a comment saying you already follow them).
  3. Follow Sparkly Soul on Instagram and post a separate comment saying that you followed them (or post a comment saying you already follow them).
That's a total of three possible entries (meaning you have to comment three times). Now get out there and start liking/following/loving Sparkly Soul!