Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!


This is actually the first year that I haven't had some sort of Halloween festivity to attend and wear a costume to. I've always enjoyed Halloween because of the creativity of coming up with a good outfit. While I have fond childhood memories of the holiday, I also remember some especially good times from college.

The Y was having a Halloween Festival for the kids yesterday, and as I headed out after my run I found a parking lot full of little ones dressed as princesses, super heroes, animals, Sesame Street characters and so on. I realized that I can't really remember what made me decide from year to year what I wanted to be when I was kid, but I certainly recall most of my costumes.

I've been a grey mouse, Minnie Mouse, Snow White, Cinderella, a witch (green face and everything), Dorothy (with a stuffed Toto), a Renaissance princess, an Egyptian princess, a ballerina (probably more than once), a cow girl, a 20's flapper, and probably some other things I'm not remembering. I do remember how fun it always was going home after school to put on my costume and go trick-or-treating with my sister and parents. We never really did the door-to-door thing. Mom and dad drove us around to all of our aunts and uncles and close friends. I imagine the reason for this was two-fold: 1) they all got to see us in our costumes, and 2) they felt sure no one was poisoning us. Good thing we're a loving family.

So since I didn't have the opportunity to dress up this year, I'll share this picture from last Halloween. I hope it's obvious that the party's theme was an 80's prom. It's a bit easier to see if you click on it to look at it in a bigger screen. Hope everyone has a nice Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Monday...

If the title of this blog causes anyone else to go into song, then we have something in common. As soon as I typed it, I suddenly heard a "la dah.. la dah da dah" in my head. I wasn't even thinking about it before then. But now that I am, I wonder if Monday is really any less trustworthy than any other day of the week. I suppose it's often hard to get back into work mode on Monday mornings, but I don't think that makes me trust or distrust the day. Hmmm...

So how about those Red Sox? I must admit I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I can appreciate the significance of winning another World Series. Congrats to them and Boston fans everywhere.

The past few days have flown by in a whirlwind of sorts. Steph and her husband were in town visiting and attending a friend's wedding. We had a terrific weekend, and I promise a post with some details and pictures of the occasion next time around. I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep after two late nights and despite hitting the pillow super early last night, I'm dragging my feet a bit today. But I always say that some things are worth losing a little sleep over, and a weekend with close friends is certainly one of them.

I also missed my 10-miler yesterday. Scratch that. I chose to skip it. And I don't feel the least bit guilty. It's only the second run I've missed during three months of training so I feel pretty sure that I'll be ok. I'm getting more and more excited about the upcoming race.

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days dear readers. I hope this one will tie you over for the time being.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Jacob Law Firm

I have no idea who the Jacob Law Firm is. I also don't have a clue who this girl they are looking for is either. We'll call her Stacy for the purposes of this blog posting.

Whoever she is, the Jacob Law Firm wants to find her. About a month ago I came home to find a message on my machine from them asking her to call them back. I didn't think much of it until a few days later there was another one.

After about 4 messages from them and noticing that their number was on the caller ID at other times when they did not leave messages, I finally called the number back and told them they have the wrong number for this girl and to please quit calling me.

I thought it was all taken care of until I had two more messages the next week. I didn't really care as I hit erase each time. But the last message they left was a bit harsh. The lady that called that day finally caught on that my answering machine says you've reached Melanie. Her message was actually for me, and she told me that I needed to make sure Stacy called her back because they have a VERY important situation to discuss.

So I call the woman back to tell her I don't know Stacy and that my number is not her number. I was really surprised that she was somewhat rude to me about it. She asked if I was sure I didn't know her and if I knew if she ever had my phone number. I assured her I was clueless and that I'd had the number for about 1 1/2 years and that was all I knew. Then she wanted to know why I hadn't called them back sooner! I told her I had and that I even asked them to quit calling me and that I hoped this time they would delete my number from their system.

The whole thing was kind of funny, and it really makes me curious about what the "situation" is all about. Did this girl break some law? Has someone named her in a lawsuit? And why do they have my number as her's? Did she used to have it? If so, why is it that it's 1 1/2 years later and it's still listed as a contact number for her? Or did she give someone a made up number that happened to be mine? Oh I know! Maybe she met some guy at Starbucks but then gave him a fake number and maybe also stole his wallet and now they're trying to find her.

Hmm, I could probably turn this scenario into several different short stories.

In other news, there's a large puddle outside the office next to my car. I've been watching about 6 birds use it as a bath this morning. They're actually kind of cute to watch splashing around.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rainy Days

Anyone in the Nashville area knows that when I say we're having some rainy days here that what I really mean is that we're experiencing a state of constant soggyness. It's not stopping. Sometimes it lets up, but before you know it you can't see across the street again because it's pouring so hard.

I've never minded rainy days. I don't feel blue over the gloomy weather. Granted, I prefer that it doesn't rain on the days I need to run, but I've run in torrential downpours before when necessary. To me, there's something kind of nice about the rain. While I did pay attention in all those science classes where I learned what causes precipitation, there's still something kind of mysterious to me about how all this water comes out of the sky and goes back into the earth. The whole cycle is really amazing to me when I think about it.

Rain doesn't keep me from getting out. I'll still run errands and go get groceries or whatever else I need to do. I might roll up the legs of my jeans to prevent the water from slowly creeping up from my ankles to my calves (is anyone else baffled at the way rain water can move UP denim? ha). I might break out the rain jacket (it's green - my favorite.) And maybe I'll run on the treadmill instead of outside. But I kind of like being in the rain. I don't even really care that it gets all over my glasses and makes my hair all frizzy.

Although, I do have to admit... I wasn't crazy about rainy days when I was in college. There are a lot of days when I miss something about being in school, but rainy days are not one of them. MTSU's campus floods... we're talking big ponds everywhere. Once you finally ford the river and jump over a pond (it's very much like the Oregon Trail actually), you get into a building to find everyone with squeaky shoes on wet floors and everything smells really bad. Yeah, I don't miss that part.

The hardest thing about rainy days for me is getting out of bed. I don't really struggle to get myself up most mornings any more now that I rise early every day, but this morning was a bit of a fight with myself. My room was still so nice and dark. I could hear the rain pouring down and running through the gutters. Tucker was curled up beside my calves. If it wasn't for that terrible sound my alarm kept emitting, I wouldn't have been able to push my sleepy eyes open.

It's a bit of a cliché I guess, but rainy days make me want to read a good book. Or watch a movie. Or curl up on the couch with a significant other. Or take a nap. Or write a story. Or just sit and look out the window for a few minutes and watch it come down.

Yes, I kind of like rainy days. Or in our case here in Tennessee right now, rainy weeks. The really crazy thing about it? We're still close to being at 70 degrees... the week before November.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Big 19

I headed out for my 19-miler yesterday listening to the new Radiohead album on my ipod and trying to ignore the goosebumps on my legs from the 48 degree weather. I knew it'd be 70 by the end of the run, and sometimes thinking warm thoughts really does help.

It wasn't long before I was in a groove and remembering my 19-miler I did when training for this year's Nashville marathon. All runners have their bad days. For reasons I cannot explain, that long run was certainly the worst I'd ever experienced. I think it was around mile 16 or 17 that I had to stop. My body wasn't going to let me run another step. I was running with Bob and Erron that day, but I think Erron had already finished and left. I had an ache in my lower back that made walking the two miles back to the car one of the most painful experiences I've ever had (aside from when my appendix perforated when I was 8. I will NEVER forget that pain.)

Before I knew it yesterday, I was heading back toward the car to finish the first 9 miles of the run. I felt great. I used the bathroom (because it never fails - I always have to go a few miles into the run and had been holding it for quite a while) and then headed out with Bob for the last 10. We weren't quite as chatty this week. I wasn't hurting or anything, but I was definitely pushing myself a bit more and trying to concentrate on staying strong.

Around mile 17.5, I had to start telling my body to shut up. A lot of people don't realize this, but running is just as much mental on some days as it is physical. My body can be screaming at me that it's tired of being on its feet, but I know better. I've run two marathons. It's perfectly capable of making it. So I keep telling it to hush, and I keep running.

I ran in 3:03 yesterday, 7 minutes faster than goal time. My lunch at Fazoli's tasted better than ever. My nap when I got home was quite pleasant. My body is only a little bit achy today. I'm thinking of treating myself to a manicure this week. I've been working hard to run faster than I ever have before, and it's due time I reward myself a bit. I can't explain how exciting it is to be consistently running faster than my goal time. Seven weeks to go... two medium runs mixed in with two more really long runs... some tapering... and then I hit the streets of Huntsville to hopefully set a new PR. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In Case You Were Curious...

Some of you may have read my post back in September where I shared a little rant about my issues with Dish Network.

Allow me to give an update: MasterCard was fantastic when I sent in my request to dispute the Dish Network charge. I finally got a UPS label from D.N. and was able to send back the equipment. In the end, the charge was reversed and all was well there.

However, the other part of the problem was that I was billed for a month of service after it was disconnected, and I was only given a partial credit back. I still haven't been able to get them to issue the remainder of the credit, which is annoying to say the least. If my service was disconnected on July 15 and I was billed for July 16 - August 16, then I expect to get the full amount for that month back. It's not like I received anything in return for the money that month. I don't quite understand why they are having such a hard time with this concept.

I'm not typically one to complain a lot or cause a big fuss over things, but this whole issue wasted so much of my time and irritated me enough that I sat down last night and wrote a letter to the executive management of the company to tell them exactly how frustrating the whole thing has been, as well as ask for the rest of the money they owe me. It may not accomplish anything, but at least I felt like I got to speak my piece. And to stay true to my word, I openly recommend that you consider any company other than Dish Network for your home entertainment needs. As for me, I'm sticking with an old-fashioned antenna and local TV stations. I don't watch that much TV anyways.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Trip to the Vet

I took Tucker to the vet today. I'm still a bit miffed that it costs more to take my cat to the doctor than it does for me to see a doctor, but all that aside I'm thankful that he's going to be just fine.

First of all, did anyone else know that a cat's normal body temperature is around 102 degrees? I guess that explains why I wake up in the middle of the night with incredibly hot legs because he is curled up sleeping between them. (Side note: a guy once told me that this will drive my husband crazy someday. He was really concerned that I should try to break this habit of Tucker's soon. I'm not especially worried over this. Tucker will learn his place.)

Anyways, Tucker had a fever at 104.5 degrees. I had to leave him for the afternoon so that they could do some blood and urine tests and figure out why an otherwise healthy-looking cat had such a fever. Upon my return, they still weren't completely positive (that's always reassuring). Apparently he has bacteria in his urine, but his bloodwork didn't indicate a urinary tract infection. (Another side note: is it just me or doesn't bacteria in the urine kind of cry out that there's some sort of urinary infection regardless of what the blood may say?) The vet thought the infection may not have progressed much yet (making it harder to pinpoint) and was glad that we could take care of it before it did.

We were sent home with 14 days worth of antiobiotics (in pill form, no less) to force him to swallow. They are supposed to be strong enough that they'll knock out any kind of infection he may have. He did well with the first one I gave him.

I know having a cat is nothing like having a child, and I also know I am certainly glad all I have right now is a cat. But making sure he's ok is a big deal. While he is only a cat, he's MY cat. I'm rather fond of the little guy, and I knew he wasn't feeling well. I'm glad to know that he should start perking up in a couple of days. Besides, we're having our first guests next weekend, and I'm sure he wants to feel like himself so that he can be a good host. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Under the Weather

Well, my Cougar may be back up and running, but now my little kitty cat Tucker seems to not be feeling well.

I initially haven't been too concerned. With the yard sale at my house this past weekend, I took him to spend a couple of days at my parents' house. I take him over there on occasion anyways so that he can run and play with their cat. He always comes home ready to take a good nap since all that playing can really wear a kitty out.

Sunday I didn't think much of his inactivity. I assumed he was exhausted from his 3-day playdate with Wilson.

Yesterday I realized that I hadn't seen him run since Sunday morning. Normally, he flies up and down the long hallway, especially if he's racing me to the other end. I decided a 3-day playdate must be super tiring. I didn't have any reason to think anything else might be going on. He was still eating just fine. And drinking... both from his bowl and out of the faucet when I brush my teeth. If I said "treat" he still meowed like crazy and gobbled the treat right up. He's still cuddly and has continued to sleep in the bed with me at night. He purrs a lot just like he always does.

Today, however, I'm starting to feel a little concerned. When I went home for lunch today he didn't come to the door until after I called him for a minute. Normally he's there when I open it. I noticed he'd been eating since this morning, and I found that he had pulled the stuffed animals off the rack again and had been playing with them. I figured he couldn't be feeling too bad if he was still doing all of that like normal. But then I happened to glance over at his litterbox as I walked past and I saw it.... a large puddle of kitty pee right in front of the box.

Tucker has never had an accident other than the one time a piece of poop got stuck to his bottom and he ran around meowing and acting weird until I noticed and pulled it off. That wasn't really his fault though since cats can't wipe.

Here's what I'm hoping happened: He had just climbed in the box to take a tinkle when he heard me come home and call for him. In his excitement he wanted to take off to come greet me but forgot he was taking care of some business. So he tinkled as he climbed out of the box and onto the plastic stuff I have in front of it (thank goodness for that, by the way) and then headed down the hallway to find me.

I really don't want to have to take him to the vet. Such a traumatic trip for the little guy! But if he's not back to more of his normal perky self by tomorrow I believe I will. I know he's acting different, and I still think he's just bound to be really tired. If he was sick, I would think he wouldn't be eating or playing. But he never pees on the floor. I'd like to hope someone would take me to the doctor if I started doing that because certainly it means something.

Here's to hoping nothing is wrong and that he's feeling back to his normal perky and playful self soon!

PS - Cleaning up kitty pee is probably just about as bad as cleaning up someone's vomit, if not worse. I think I gagged at least twice, and I typically have a pretty strong stomach.

Monday, October 15, 2007

On Being Healthy

I just finished reading a book this weekend that a friend of mine recently bought. Skinny Bitch (by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin) is currently a New York Times Bestseller and claims to be "a no-nonsense tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!" Toward the end of the book, they point out that the title was created to mostly help the book sales (and I'd say it does). In the end, being healthy isn't about being skinny. It's more important to be healthy and to feel good about your own body. (They also share a reminder that they in no way think anyone has any right to ever be bitchy, and I agree.)

The concept of the book is that diets are a waste and that you really just need to pay more attention to what you put into your body. By the end of the book, the insistence is that you need to be a vegetarian to be the healthiest you can be.

While I'm not convinced that I need to become a vegetarian, I do think the book makes some valid points that I think we'd all benefit from if we took them more seriously. First of all, diets are dumb. Simple as that. I'm a firm believer that you're not going to do yourself any good if you cut out all carbs or all sugars or all fats and so on. I have no education in this subject other than my own reading as a runner who is often thinking about these kinds of things; so don't take my word for it, but I think that you can be perfectly healthy and still eat all the things you want to eat. The key is to practice balance and moderation.

There are numerous reasons why I tend to be long and lean. I think part of it is genetics. A lot of it is because I work out a lot, and exercise is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. The more you exercise, the better your body can work and do its thing, even at rest! And another big part of it is I don't overeat. I love dessert. I eat dessert. I love bread. I eat bread. I love cheese. I eat cheese. But I try to make sure to eat reasonable amounts of a lot of different things. I'm a huge proponent of the kid's meal or of eating only half your meal and saving the rest. I think the two main reasons why obesity is such a problem these days is that we eat too much at once and we don't move our bodies enough. I realize this is not a new concept.

A few other valid points from the book: you should be aware of what you're putting into your body. There is a lot of fake stuff in a lot of foods. There can be a lot of chemicals that have been found to cause cancers. Basically, there are a lot of good reasons to buy natural and ogranic foods. Don't get my wrong... my pantry isn't stocked with all organic foods from Wild Oats. But I do try to be conscious of selecting things that will give my body nutrients and not just fill me up on artificial flavoring (because what the hell is in artificial flavoring anyways?!). I do think that we can send a loud message by the things we buy and consume. There's a reason why more grocery stores are carrying more organic products than they did last year.

In the end, I think the most important thing is that you recognize that you are the only one responsible for your body. Furthermore, it's futile to compare yourself to someone else. How you feel about your own body matters more than what someone else thinks. Don't EVER let someone else's judgment of you matter more than your own. I think the goal should be to be able to wake up each day knowing that you are living in a way that makes you feel confident about not only your appearance, but also the way you carry yourself in life and the way you treat other people (but I guess that's another blog for another day).

When you take actions to treat yourself right, it's easier to be more confident about the person you are becoming on a daily basis. We are always works in progress. And when you're more confident about yourself, it's like a light that shines. The women who I know that are the most beautiful are not the ones who look a certain way or have a certain amount of body fat or lack thereof... the most beautiful women I know are the ones who know they are taking care of themselves and feel good about it. They're the ones who are almost always smiling. They don't cut themselves down or live a life of pessimism. They know that no one else defines them. They know and are confident that God did something good when they were created.

I think that's what we should be striving for. I hope you all find ways to live a life of health and fitness in a way that makes you feel like you are becoming a better version of yourself every day... and not because anything is wrong with you, but because you know that life is good and it's worth being good to yourself.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good Things

  1. My dad fixed my car today. We think. Apparently some hose was not properly attached where it needed to be attached. This seemed to me like a fairly significant problem. He changed out some other things and added some fuel injector something or other and then drove it around for a while. It seems to be ok. Let's all hope so.
  2. I got the new Radiohead cd the other day thanks to a good friend who gave me the website to go download it. I've only listened to it twice so far, but I'm digging it. Go to inrainbows.com if you're interested.
  3. I ran 17 miles yesterday in 2:43. I realize numerous people I know can't believe I run that far period; but the time is the part that is significant to me. To run a 4:30 marathon in less than two months, I need to run 10:20 miles. Thus, I'm training with no slower than 10:00 miles to account for things where I'll lose time (eating GU, drinking Gatorade, stopping at Porta-Potties...). If I ran 10:00 miles yesterday, I would have finished in 2:50. Running 7 minutes faster is significant. I am ecstatic about this because it makes me feel all the more confident that with a solid month of intense training left (before I start to taper), I should be able to maintain this pace and maybe even finish the race faster than 4:30. Wouldn't that be fantastic?!
  4. I went to yoga today to stretch out my tight hamstrings that developed post-run. Plus, I just enjoy yoga class. I always feel so tall when I walk out of there.
  5. I had several good meals in good company this weekend, and that's always a good thing.
  6. I slept for almost 12 hours last night, largely due to the 17 miles I got up at 6:30 yesterday morning to go run. I have never felt more rested. And I'm about to head back to my cozy bed.
  7. I made a decent bit of money at the yard sale that I'm thrilled I won't be spending at a mechanic since dad fixed my car (knock on wood).
  8. I caught up on my magazine reading. I'm sure this seems trivial, but working in magazines is always on my mind somewhere so I just can't help but subscribe to a few. I love curling up on the couch with one just as much as I love nestling in with a good book. A friend of mine says that I'm the only person she knows who reads a magazine cover to cover.
  9. Nothing beats going to bed at night knowing that you ended a great week with a terrific weekend full of relaxation and other positive things. .. and looking forward to seeing how the next week progresses. Wishing you all a great week!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ridiculous

I read a news article online today, and it's seriously one of the most ridiculous things I've come across lately.

A woman who works as a police officer in Florida saved a drowning child from a pool. This was a 911 one call that she had responded to while she was on duty. In the process, she slipped in a puddle of water and broke her knee. She missed two months of work and risks having arthritis in her injured knee.

The one-year-old boy that she rescued suffered brain damage and cannot walk, talk or swallow. She is now filing a lawsuit against the family, claiming that her injury happened on their property (true) due to their negligence (well, I wasn't there, but my guess is that if she was saving a drowning child, puddles of water may have been inevitable.)

Here's why I think this is ridiculous, and you are welcome to disagree: Police officers decide to become police officers with FULL knowledge that they will put their lives in danger as part of their job for the sake of protecting the citizens. They are paid to do that. In fact, taxpayers pay for their protection. And after receiving worker's compensation for her injury (which is legit, as she was indeed injured on the job), she now wants for these citizens to pay her more money because she got hurt doing her job?

I just think it's one of the most absurd things I've heard lately. I'm sorry she got hurt, but that's a risk she takes every day when she goes to work. Her medical bills were paid and she also received compensation from the police department while she was off work healing. Why is it that she doesn't think that's sufficient? I just don't understand why she thinks she's entitled to gobs of money from these people. You all know I'm forever an optimist, but it saddens me to see so much greed in our nation. I think this is one small example of it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Poor Cougar

I have a sick cat. Nope, not Tucker. Rather, my green little Cougar that transports me around is having some issues.

I got in the car this morning to head to work, and things seemed just fine. As I made the turn onto the street I work on, everything quit working. It didn't matter that I was pushing the accelerator: I was rapidly losing speed. Fortunately there is a little gravel lot right there on the corner. I quickly realized that if I didn't pull off there, my car would come to a halt right in the middle of the road.

Once the car was safely in park on the side of the road, I did what any single gal does in a situation like this: I call my dad. Dad recommends turning the car off and back on (ah, the classic "shut down, restart." Why didn't I think of that?) So I try, only to find that when I try to put the car in reverse, it keeps going forward. I don't know much about fixing cars, but I do know a bit about driving them, including that they should go backward when they are in reverse.

So, I sat and waited for 15 minutes for my dad to come investigate. He got it going again and followed me the last quarter of a mile to my office, leaving me with instructions to not drive it and that he'd come back to take it home.

My poor car. She's so young. She'll be 7 in January, and I might hit 60,000 miles sometime in the next month. But oh, she is sick. Oh, she is outside making funny noises as dad tries to figure out where the problem started. Oh, how I know this is the reason for having an emergency fund, but oh, how it sucks to think I'll have to dip into it. Boooo on things not working.

It's all part of life I guess. I'm glad that this didn't happen on the drive to/from Knoxville on Saturday. I'm glad I was able to pull off the road this morning. Of course, this afternoon my dad asked me a million "why didn't you try this?" questions to which I responded "why didn't you tell me on the phone to try that?" I'm a pretty independent kind of gal, but I don't know how to determine what's wrong with a car that stops working while you're driving it.

Dad is pretty handy with fixing things like cars, so the Cougar will likely be healed soon. But I think it's safe to say that no one likes dealing with a sick car.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Ups and Downs of the Gym

I think my gym membership is one of my most valuable monthly investments. Granted, paying the electric bill is pretty important, too. But my electricity doesn't affect me in quite the same way that a good work out does.

As with anything, there are definitely some pros and cons to the gym. (I know Stephanie is likely rolling her eyes right now. A pro/con list comes at no surprise to her anymore.) I was thinking about them today as I was running my 12 x 400 (a 400 is .25 miles) on the treadmill today.

Pros:
  1. You get to work out in perfect conditions no matter what is happening outside.
  2. You see old friends.
  3. You make new friends.
  4. You get to use really great exercise equipment with radios and tv screens.
  5. You get to take really great classes taught by really great people.
  6. You can easily stop at any time to grab a drink or go to the bathroom in a real bathroom stall.
  7. You can earn free stuff. (The YMCA has this program where you earn points every time you are there, and then you can cash it in for books, music, DVDs, etc.)
  8. If you pick the right gym, you can more than get your money's worth. (Another reason why I'm a Y supporter. They don't have contracts, either.)
  9. There are mirrors in case you need to check your sweat situation, or admire your muscles, or casually look to see if that cute person of the opposite sex is checking you out from behind.
  10. You can walk out feeling like you just accomplished something great, because you did!

Cons:

  1. Running 8 miles on a treadmill is a lot longer than 8 miles outside.
  2. Sometimes you see people you'd rather not see when you're all hot and sweaty and gross.
  3. Sometimes you hear really bad pick-up lines.
  4. Sometimes the machine you want to use is occupied and you have to wait.
  5. You have to make sure if you're staying on the treadmill longer than 30 minutes that no one else is waiting on it.
  6. Other people smell.
  7. Other people pass gas while they're running on the treadmill right beside you.
  8. Sometimes the classes kick your butt.
  9. There are mirrors that you sometimes don't want to have to see yourself in.
  10. You have to get back in your car all sweaty and gross (or use the public shower).

The pros far outweigh the cons for me. I love going to the gym and getting in my marathon training or going to a class to try to work on my core a bit (the stronger the core, the stronger the runner they say). I always enjoy my workouts there. Well, maybe not always, but I generally have positive feelings even when I'm dog tired and ready to run that last mile. It's nice to share in the experience of fitness with a lot of other people, even if I don't know them. It's good to see other people committing to be the best version of themselves they can be.

But I have to say, if you need to pass gas while you're working out, please be considerate of the people trying to do sprint drills 2 feet away from you.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Wedding Road Trip

Today I spent six hours driving in my car. I had a good reason - one of my good friends from college, Jennifer, got married today.

It has certainly been a long but enjoyable Saturday. I started my day rising at what I thought was a time that would allow me plenty of time to get ready. I realized when I was ironing my dress while I was wearing it that I should have been up about 20 minutes sooner. And no, I'm not kidding about still wearing the dress. It's a fine art.

I collected my friend Danielle who graciously agreed to spend her Saturday riding in the car with me for 6 hours and attending a wedding where she wouldn't know a soul. She's a good friend.

We ended up having a really good time in the car. She's been back from England for a few weeks, but we hadn't really had a decent amount of time to chat and catch up until today. We of course stopped before ever hitting the interstate to grab some Sonic sweet tea for our journey.

The sweet tea of course meant stopping soon to use the bathroom. We were fortunate though to not encounter much traffic considering there was a UT game today. It's crazy to watch as carloads of people decked out in orange drive past you with their UT flags waving in the wind. I think it's really neat that gobs of people descend on Knoxville to go see the games. Once in Maryville, we stopped at the Taco Bell to grab some lunch before finding the church. We both agreed we felt slightly over dressed for the Taco Bell.

Anyways, the wedding was beautiful and so incredibly sweet. I had never had the chance to meet Jennifer's groom before today, but I could tell that they share a deep and great love. I'm incredibly happy for both of them and feel confident that God will bless them in many ways.

Jennifer is a dear friend of mine that I met in a weekly small group that I was part of during my last two years of college. She has always been such a joy to have as a friend, and I'm glad I got to be part of this special day. She is truly one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out, and I know my life has been enriched because of her friendship. It's incredibly exciting to see her marry and move away to NC with her best friend. I certainly wish her all the best.

After enjoying some yummy food at the reception, we were back in the car (only now in jeans and t-shirts thanks to a very talented "in-the-car change") to head home. We again stopped at Sonic when I needed to get more gas (funny thing about driving 360 miles round-trip... you need a lot of gas), only this time we got one of the new Java Chillers. They are VERY good. I recommend. We also saw a car on fire on the way home. I'm talking HUGE orange flames and lots of black smoke. The fire engine was pulling up as we passed by. We couldn't really see it well because it was on the other side of the road, but I certainly hope everyone was ok. It was crazy to see that.

We had such a great time being part of a special occasion and sharing some quality time together in the Cougar. I had brought along the ipod, but we hardly listened to it. We laughed SO much, and there's just really something to be said for the kind of days where you can talk about really deep stuff but also really ridiculous stuff all in one sitting. Of course, I guess sitting in a car for 6 hours with nothing else to do can lead to that, ha!

All in all, it was a very good day and a fun little road trip. But I'm exhausted from the 6 hours of staring at the road and watching out for tractor trailers who almost come over into my lane and hit me (so not cool). This girl is off to bed for tonight. Besides, I have a long run to do in the morning.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Runner's Woe....

It's true that you don't need a lot of gear to be a runner. Some good shoes, clothing (preferably not a cotton t-shirt that will turn into a wet rag when you sweat), and maybe your ipod.

I've found all the things that I need and prefer for my workouts. I have great shoes. I have a RoadID so that should anyone ever come across me passed out on the side of the greenway, they'll know who I am and who to call about me. I found shorts that fit like a glove. I found shirts that wick the sweat away from my body. I even found a great fleece jacket to wear as a top layer on the freezing cold days.

What I have NOT found is a set of headphones. Sure, the ipod came with some ear buds. The trouble is that when I run, the bounce of my run causes them to fall out. I've tried other ear buds. I've tried ear clips - it doesn't matter what brand they are, the clip never goes over my ear. They are way too big. Finally, after a Sunday spent looking at headphones at every possible place I could imagine, I ordered some off the Internet that were recommended in Runner's World (because yes, I read it every month).

I was excited when they showed up yesterday, thinking that I'd finally have a solution to my headphone woes. I was wrong. The concept was great - a cord that you could twist to fit perfectly over your ears and then squeeze or stretch to fit your head perfectly. The problem is that this one-size-fits-all product is clearly designed for people with large heads. No matter how tight I tried to squeeze the cord, I couldn't get it small enough to hug my head instead of dangle against my neck. So back to Colorado to their maker they will go and $34.99 back on my Discover card.

Sigh.... all I want is a pair of headphones that are comfortable and will fit perfectly while I run. I don't think this is too much to ask. I guess if it comes down to it, I can place some tape over the outside of my ears to hold the ear buds in place. Or get some more of those old-school 90's headphones that go over the head and have the big foam things for the ears. Or scour the Internet for some who makes custom-fit headphones. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mourning for Starwood

Anyone who currently lives or has ever lived in the greater Nashville area is probably familiar with Starwood. What you may not know if you've moved away is that it was closed a few months ago.

I'm sure there was some good business reason for this, but considering we like to call ourselves "Music City" it seemed a bit wrong to close the only outdoor concert venue we had. (Someone should really start taking some public opinion polls about these kinds of things. Maybe then we'd still have Opryland, too.) Sure, we have the arena. I don't even know what its name is any more... they change it so much. But talk about a pretty impersonal place to see a concert.

At Starwood, it didn't matter if you were in the grass. There was always this really cool atmosphere and the audience was one with the music. And somehow you could see everything on stage.

On my way back from a trip to Kinko's today, I drove past the location. Apparently the demolition crews had been out there since the last time I drove down that road. All of the stage was a crumpled pile of debris. It was SO sad.

I remembered my first concert there - my family got free tickets to go see Amy Grant when I was 8 or so. My dad said it was worth what we paid for the tickets. He was probably right, but I thought it was really cool at the time.

I remembered three Dave Matthews Band concerts. One in the company of three of the coolest guys I knew in high school. One with my college roommate. One with a b'friend and other close friends. All three were amazing. There's something about DMB concerts... 18,000 people singing along in unison. People dancing. Everyone in the grass going crazy when it's raining and Dave sings the song about rain coming down.


I remembered seeing Counting Crows and Live with Gaelen when we were in high school. He'd actually bought tickets for seats. I don't think I was very familiar with Live back then, but I definitely loved seeing C.C. I'd certainly watch them again given the chance.

I remembered the last concert I saw there. Danielle and I went to see Coldplay back in 2005. We enjoyed frozen fruity drinks that we were finally old enough to purchase (they were overpriced; we didn't care). We gushed as girls tend to do over Chris Martin. I mean, he's not really that cute and he named his kid Apple, but the man sure knows how to sing, dance and play the piano. We sang along and enjoyed their tribute to Johnny Cash.

I guess we live in a world of change, and that often means seeing things or places that we once enjoyed becoming a thing of the past. I'll always have good memories of all the concerts I saw there. I won't forget how I begged my parents to take me there to see New Kids on the Block when I was in the second grade (I'm not kidding. We didn't go, I imagine more because they weren't interested in going, ha!) I won't forget how you could go to a concert there and see tons of people you knew that you hadn't seen in ages. I won't forget waiting an hour (or two) to get out of the parking lot after a show. And I won't forget that despite one of the best concert venues being closed, there are still a lot of really terrific places to hear some good music in Nashville.

Here's to Starwood. Thanks for the memories!

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Little Humor

I absolutely LOVE the Bud Light's Real Men of Genius ad campaign. I would go so far as to say that it's genius (hehe). No, seriously. It has got to be by far one of the best ad campaigns out there. It's been running now since 1999, with new installments on a regular basis. I think that's pretty impressive.

In my opinion, they're terrific because they're so freaking funny. My current favorite is the salute to Mr. Taxi Cab Over Accesorizer. If you haven't heard this one yet, search the Internet and find it. I ALWAYS laugh at the part where the back-up singer adds, "Can I use your toaster?" The really crazy thing is that the commercials really have little to do with beer other than the bit at the end about how the person being saluted deserves to crack open an ice cold Bud Light.

No matter what, Bud Light knows what they're doing when it comes to advertising. I know that this ad campaign has influenced numerous other things, as pop culture often tends to do. For example, I was involved in Step Show my senior year of college, and our theme was, "We salute you Mr. Janitor Man." We wore janitor outfits and used brooms and buckets and trash cans to aid in our stepping. We didn't win that year (I think we got second?), but I thought we were quite creative. I also have a janitor outfit now that I will never wear again if anyone wants it.

Another personal favorite of mine involves a salute that has been written (based on the typical format of the Real Men of Genius ads) for the sorority I was in - Alpha Delta Pi. It's a nice little tribute to the values we diamond girls highly esteem. Enjoy reading below. And speaking of Greek stuff, a special congrats to my sister Meredith who was just named Sigma Alpha Epsilon's Sweetheart. She's pretty excited. It's a pretty big honor to be the sweetheart of a fraternity. She'll wear their badge well.

And back to that reading I promised:

Today we salute you, Miss Alpha Delta Pi sister. Considered to be truly classy ladies since 1851, ADPi's have set the precedent for every sorority. Women have strived to become just like you for over a century. Imitation is the best form of flattery, isn't it? As an ADPi you exemplify all that is positive about women in college today. You are well-rounded, executing terrific time management between school, work and play. You are always the life of the party and also the girl that the fellas want to take home to Mother. And of course you dazzle her with your wit, charm and stunning good looks. So pop open a bottle of bubbly, you diamond girl, because everyone knows that ADPi is where the first are the absolute finest and will be forever fabulous!

(Note: Alpha Delta Pi was the very first sorority for collegiate women to join. That's the reason for the "first and finest" stuff.)