Three Books I Read In One Sitting

19 Jun

I’m supposed to be studying for my Boards 24/7, but I went a little overboard and put the entirety of the 2016 NYT Notable Books of the Year list on hold at the library and now I have to read all these books before their return date. Whoopsies.

But it’s not procrastinating if you read them really quickly, right? In general I am not a speed reader (we leave that to ThisIsYourLifeNowKef), but these three books sucked me in and didn’t let go until I finished them. Since I should be studying, I’ll just give you the quick and dirty–ask me about my full thoughts sometime after August 1st or so.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

What happens when a young neurosurgeon becomes the patient? This posthumously-published memoir of Kalanithi’s struggle to maintain meaning as he faced the end of his life is stunningly-written and deeply resonant. The book is worth reading just for the final paragraph, which has to be among the most touching words ever put to page.

The End of Eddy – Edouard Louis

I’ve spent more time talking and thinking about this book than I did reading it– the autobiographic novel is less than 200 pages but manages to tackle (among other things): socially-prescribed expectations of masculinity, class-based systemic violence, and resiliency in the face of abuse, isolation, and neglect. Many have called The End of Eddy a French version of Hillbilly Elegy, but I resist the comparison.  Certainly, The End of Eddy aims to connect the personal injustices waged against its gay protagonist with the massive marginalization and humiliation of his working-class family in a factory town, and its US-release was timed with the rise and near-election of a dangerous right wing politician (Le Pen), two similarities to Hillbilly Elegy that make drawing the parallel clean and neat. But Eddy has none of the suggestions for redemption of Elegy— like the author/main character, Eddy’s readers are left weighing the balance of blame and forgiveness for the family and neighbors who torment him.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter

Honestly, I haven’t the slightest idea how to describe this book, but if Gregor woke up a bug on the day of his mother’s funeral, Metamorphosis might have been a it like GITTWF. We meet a father and his two boys just after the sudden death of their wife/mother, and large parts of the book are spent in sparse-but-touching observations of grief and the act of living after the life you once knew is gone. Somehow, an allegoric crow borne of Ted Hughes’ (of Sylvia Plath fame) mind becomes the shepherd of their grieving process, and even manages to illuminate their most poignant moments. To be honest, I couldn’t make much sense of the Crow, but I loved the rest of the book so much I didn’t care. If someone knows a sophomore Literature major, I’d love them to close read it for me and let me know what to make of it.

Summer Running Essentials

16 Jun

The extended spring we were enjoying here in DC was nice while it lasted, but the summer stank has settled in– and if things keep heading in our current direction, I’d bet 2017 will go down as the Swampiest Summer Ever. But I’ll leave that right there.

Anyway– here are some things I think are essential to summer running:

1. Shorts You Can Actually Run In

A few years ago, I chronicled my quest to move from capris to shorts here and here. I stand by the claim I made back then that the Lole Lively Shorts are the best thing to ever happen to my thighs, but my endorsement of them must have broken the internet because they are now sold out everywhere. I am happy to report, however, that the Oiselle Long Roga shorts I wasn’t 100% sold on have been through some updates since my original test run, and I am now a big-time fan of them. I suggest sizing up because the built-in brief seems to be about 1/2 size smaller than the shorts themselves– but, if callipygian isn’t the word the Ancient Greeks would have used to describe you, you might not worry about that.

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2. A Hand-held Water Bottle

When it’s damn near 80 degrees and 100% humidity by 6am, there’s no two ways about it: you need to BYOW. I love this little 10-oz guy, but admit that it’s only enough if I know I’ll have access to a fillup while I’m out for a run. I’m considering upgrading to a 16 oz and would love to hear your recommendations if you’ve got ’em.

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3. Something–anything–to Keep the Sweat Out of Your Eyes

What is worse than being hot, tired, and soaked in your own sweat? Being hot, tired, and having that aforementioned sweat running into your eye and threatening to knock your contacts out of place, too. I love this Roga Visor from Oiselle (surprise). It’s made of the same super-lightweight and sweat-wicking fabric as the Roga shorts are, so it keeps the sweat out of your eyes without adding extra heat. The brim is a bit shorter than most other visors I’ve tried so I don’t find that it does a ton for face shade, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for eyes that don’t sting.

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If visors aren’t quite your thing, I also sometimes use those 80s terrycloth sweatbands as a headband and have found that easier than trying to keep one of those super-cute-but-not-all-that-functional sparkly ones in place. Plus, you can roll out with your squad looking like this… because nothing says “I’m ready to run” like pantyhose:

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4. Sunglasses

As a health professional, I should recommend sunscreen… but the best this sun-worshiping (and foolhardy) Greek woman can do is to recommend good polarized, non-slip, non-fog sunglasses. I am pretty into these fun and durable KnockArounds, most of which cost around $10-25. (Click here and enter your email address for $10 off any purchase of $20+.)sung

5. A Plan

Listen, y’all– I have learned this the hard way. July is not the time to figure your route out while you’re running it. Are there water fountains available on the route? Is there shade? Are the hilliest parts of the route also the parts in full sun? If you keel over from heat exhaustion, will anyone be around to find you? Is your main obstacle going to be bikers (who provide just enough breeze as they blow by to count as a blessing) or a group of middle schoolers from Iowa (who totally screw your Garmin stats by making you slow down at every crosswalk because their chaperone refuses to let anyone by)? These are things I want to know BEFORE I head out of the house.

Watermelon Prosecco Slushies

13 Jun

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Summer 2017 has officially begun– and how better to ring it in than sipping a refreshing champagne slushie with your favorite people? We did a little celebrating this weekend up at the Kef Family Homestead, and these were just the beverages to get the party started.

The company didn’t hurt, either:

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And just in case frozen drinks and great people weren’t enough, we had a knee-high magnum of Rose. Gotta have back up.

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Watermelon Prosecco Slushies To Celebrate Summer

Ingredients

  • 4 c seedless watermelon, frozen and cubed
  • 1-3 c ice
  • 3/4 c limoncello (optional– we made batches with and without it)
  • 3/4 c sparkling white wine
  • Fresh mint and lemon slices for garnish, if you’re into garnish

Assembly

  1. Throw your cubed watermelon in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  2. Once frozen, combine all ingredients EXCEPT PROSECCO in blender. Blend just until ice is mostly blended, ~45 seconds.
  3. Pour blended watermelon into glasses, top each off with prosecco. Swirl with a fancy straw and top off with a mint leaf and/or lemon slice.

Who run the world? Girls.

9 Jun

Now that school is over, the question pretty much everyone is asking is, “What are you doing with all your free time?” I’d love to say that I’m taking up a new hobby or finally cleaning out my closet… but, mostly, I’ve been sitting around watching YouTube videos of girls who kick ass. I’ll distill my favorites here:

Kicking ass at kindness:

Kicking ass at taking down obstacles:

Kicking monster ass:

Actually, kicking pretty much all the asses:

 

Girl mother-effing power. And that’s really all I have to say about that.

Green Goddess Dressing

6 Jun

I’m dipping my toe back in the water of baking and blogging– so here’s a short and sweet recipe from Half Baked Harvest that I have been slathering on pretty much everything. Healthy fats mixed with feta cheese? And you just throw it in a food processor and whirl? Yes please.

Half Baked Harvest’s Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 of an avocado or 1 small avocado
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS roasted pistachios
  • 1 c fresh basil
  • 1/2 c fresh mint
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c feta

Assembly

1. Put everything in the food processor.

2. Puree until to desired texture.

3. Eat on everything.

More Wise Words from Other People

18 May

I’m hopelessly behind on homework right now, so no original thoughts from Nurse Kefi today–but I did want to share the incredible letter-to-her-younger-self Lauren Fleshman published earlier this week. You may recall her beautiful poem about running, women, and not giving two effs about what other people think.Her advice focuses on running, but the wisdom is transferable to all of us–one of my favorite parts is below, and you can read the whole thing here:

I need you to know, I PROMISE you, that the ultimate star you are chasing is further ahead than any shiny thing you see now. The way you get there is to protect your health and protect your love of the sport above all, even as you reach for the shiny goals right in front of you. You simply do not know and cannot predict your personal path, but you’ll get there. It will look different and brighter and richer and more multi-faceted the closer you get.

I need you to know, you have always been more than a runner, more than your times, more than your state championships, more than your school records. But you will get confused. You will forget. Luckily you will have teammates and family and friends who remind you. You will go on to do almost every single thing you could have dreamed of, not in the way you imagined, not on the timeline you imagined.

I’ve got a bunch of really delicious recipes to share once I submit these 4 milliion SOAP notes–nothing like the final push. #soclosetodone

GW Parkway 10 Miler: Dialed In, Doubling Down

27 Apr

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What is there to say about a race you never planned on racing? Not a whole bunch, but we’ll try anyway.

After my big PR at the St Patty’s Day 10k, I was undecided about my plans for the GW Parkway 10 miler. On the one hand, I was pretty sure I could run a fast race and eek in another PR. On the other hand, I didn’t want to spend a whole bunch of mental energy early in the season on a distance I couldn’t care less about. So, I decided to split the difference and focus on running an even race at a pace that was tough but manageable. I settled on 8:00/mile in my head and kind of forgot about the race- no special training runs, no tempo workouts, just running when I felt like it and not running when I didn’t.

As noted a million other places in this blog, life has been … stressful … lately. As noted by a million other people on the internet, running can be a source of solace and sanity during difficult times. I was not 100% sure I could keep up an 8:00 pace for ten miles, and I saw no need to make my stress-relief activity a stress-inducing activity over this race I didn’t even really care that much about– so I decided to focus on the really UNstressful task of putting on foot in front of the other and that my little race mantra would be “just another day you get to do something you love–the rest doesn’t matter.”Kind of a long phrase to repeat to yourself when you’re breathless, but it worked so I went with it 🙂

Annoyingly, my watch missed about a third of a mile along the way, so my exact mile splits are all over the place and likely not reliable. It took me a little while to get into the groove with all those rolling hills, but once I got into a good zone I just focused on dialing in and staying comfortable.

Around mile 5, I realized that I could break 1:20 if I worked a just an eensy bit harder, and of course the goal-oriented monster that lives inside my go-with-the-flow outer shell came barreling out like the Hulk busting out of Bruce Bannon’s clothes. I saved a lot for the last mile, which is particularly brutal on this course because you can see the finish for so.damn.long and then kicked like hell to get in.

Official time: 1:20:41

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Kind of annoying to get so close to a goal time and miss it (even if it was a spur-of-the-moment goal), but really awesome to make a FIVE MINUTE PR and eek it in in the top 10% of my age group and gender. And it felt great to push it out there for 10 miles on a beautiful course on a perfect running day. The good people of Pacers tell me that I ran the first 5 miles at a 8:03/mile average and the second 5 miles at 8:04/mile average–so I’d say it’s Mission Accomplished on the well-paced goal, and we can put another awesome Pacers race in the books.

Next is probably the Cap Hill Classic– no telling what goal or ungoal I’ll come up with for that race.

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