Friday, June 27, 2008

Vacation Guest Post #2

Runner’s Rage
Or, Chubbo Takes up Running. Again.

Hello all of Mel’s wonderful readers! It’s me, Chubbo, from over at Rage in the A.M. I’m extremely excited to be posting here on Life is a Marathon. First, I have never run a marathon. Second, I don’t know that I ever will. But I have been a regular runner before and have run a few 5Ks and the good old Bell Buckle 10-miler. So, I’ve got some running experience under the belt. However, the experience was forced out from underneath my belt as large chunks of lard stealthily took its place. But I’m back, baby. This is for all the big girls who read what the skinny girls write about running and think, “What? That’s not how it is!”

Runner’s Rage – a noun meaning the overwhelming and gushing anger that sloshes about inside one’s guts when they try to run, but are kept from being 100% successful because of their own laziness (i.e. chub) or weird physical impediments that no one else on earth could possibly understand or has ever experienced before.

I pull on the sports bra, mushing my voluptuous breasts into one shelf of pro-bounce boob. I wiggle into my running shorts, which haven’t been worn since… well, nevermind that. Who cares? I’m IN them, aren’t I? Oh. Legs not shaved. Eh, it’s not a fashion show. I find the t-shirt that is least likely to hug that small, circular hill rising out of the sinking crater of my bellybutton. Dang. It hugs. I pull on my socks with the flying pigs. I un-double knot my Asics, tuck my pigs in, and re-double knot my Asics, cursing the double knot all the way.

I reach for the door. Oh crap. My back hurts. Of course. I didn’t even do anything yet and something hurts. Typical. I make my way down the 9 floors of my apartment building, glad to have the elevator to myself. My armpits are already celebrating the heat, pre-run. Heck, pre-do more than ride the elevator. I reach the lobby and avoid eye contact with the old doorman behind the desk. I am the only Western female living in this building (so far) and I can feel him staring at the massive wonder that is my midsection.

Thank you God for my legs. Oh they work! Oh loooook! I’m walking. How nice. Alright take it slow. Stretch out those muscles a little bit. Mmmmm. That’s good.

I reach the riverside. I have decided that this is the starting point for my run. Oh, next streetlamp. Oh, right after this tiny hill. Next streetlamp. No, the next one and this time I mean it. Okay, here. I pick up my feet. I begin to swing my arms just a little, making sure I don’t crisscross my body, wasting that precious energy I’ve stored up from the last 5 pieces of cheese pizza and two bowls of curry rice I ate. Feeling good. This is not so bad. I look out over the Han River and try to avoid being run over by zealous Korean bikers with their stupid little handlebar bells.

Good job, Chubbo! You’re moving. You’re not eating ice cream and you’re not sitting on your butt reading blogs and trying not to think about ice cream. Deep breaths. Easy does it. Good pace. Look at that tiny Korean girl. OH MY GOD! I can see half the park between her thighs. Which reminds me…I pull my shorts down out of my crotch, where they have hidden themselves as if a nuclear blast has hit and the only safe place is in my crack. If I run more, maybe my thighs will slowly grow every more distant, like the friend you once called everyday but now only view her Facebook profile like a stalker, clicking obsessively through photo albums to see if she has gained any weight. Run faster! Faster!

NOT THAT FAST! Oh legs. I have legs. And I also seem to have an animal trapped inside me, somewhere around my pancreas, who wants very badly to rip through my intestines, (wait, are they close to my pancreas? Maybe it’s really over near my…) IT WANTS TO KILL ME! STITCH! STITCH! Oh God. Why am I doing this? Because you are Chubbo. But I like Chubbo. She’s funny and she gets to eat goooooood food. Macaroni, macaroni, macaroni, macaroni. I just found my mantra! Runner’s World always talks about running mantras and now I have one! Macaroni, maca- WHAT IS THAT? Oh poor little arch! It’s okay, don’t scream like that. I’m not hurting you on purpose. Please carry me just a little further. Oh please. I know you’re the only little arch in the world to ever carry this weight, but be patient. No? You don’t tell me no. You are MY foot. My. Foot. Stop it. Shut up. Macaroni, macaroni, macaroni…

I have run for…. ooooh 8 minutes and 30 seconds! Woot. That’s like three minutes more than yesterday. Breathe… Um, hello? Breathe. I can’t breathe. I… can’t… breathe. ICANTBREATHE! ICANTBREATHE! I’m dying. Oh my lungs. It’s burning. Burning….. Water! Must have water…. Who puts the water fountain that far away? Ugh, healthy skinny Koreans. Wait, am I still running? Oh my gosh, I’m still running. No. Stop thinking about running. It will hurt less. Let’s make a list of things that don’t hurt: My eyes. Nope, nix that. Sweat running into eyes. That burns. Okay, my back fat doesn’t hurt! Wait, my back fat? I have actually given my back fat the honorary title of body part? What is this world coming to? My back fat does not hurt, but it is very busy. It is jumping and bouncing like a 7 year old on a new trampoline.

I busy myself by psychically trying to convince the back of the size 0 woman in front of me that I have never supersized anything in my life. However, I must confess that I have partaken of the Route 44 at Sonic. Hello! I have legs. I have feet. I have some kind of monster gnawing at my spleen like an aggravated snow leopard attempting to feast on a frozen deer. I look down. Why isn’t The Belly any smaller? I’ve been running for like, oh God, 10 freaking minutes! Why hasn’t it gotten any smaller! Shrink! Shrink!

To the bike rental shack. I can make it to the bike rental shack. Okay, maybe to the porta-potty. Yeah, I can do it. Eh, that next crack in the sidewalk looks good. Oh, hello knees! Hi. I’m sorry, but the run is OVER. Now is not the appropriate time to begin hurting. It’s over I tell you! Over!

And so ends my every run. And the 10 minutes grows to 15, and the 15 turns into half an hour eventually. And then I’m running miles at a time. Tomorrow, The Belly will be begging for another go ‘round. Because once you start, it hurts so good! For all of you who feel my runner’s rage at your body, remember: if you’re angry enough, you’ll work hard enough, run fast enough, and begin to change your body one step at a time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vacation Guest Post #1

Hi folks! I’m Susan, and I’ll be your guest blogger today. You can find me over at Nutrition Fitness Life, where I write about food and exercise, with a bit of my personal experiences thrown in for good measure.

Melanie was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post while she is on vacation, and since many of us are planning vacations this summer, I thought, hey, why not write about vacations… and exercise!

At first glance, those two topics seem to go together like oil and water. It’s vacation, after all; I don’t want to concern myself with getting to a gym! And oftentimes when we go on vacation, our exercise routines take a vacation too… just not along with us!

I know that for me personally, the longer I take a leave of absence from my regular exercise routine, the harder it is getting back to into it. And that’s just not fun. That’s why I like to make a point to work out – even just little bit - while on vacation. When I maintain some semblance to my usual exercise routine, I find it easier to get back into the regular healthy habits once the vacation is but a memory.

First, and most importantly, I give myself permission to ease up on the exercise. Why? Because I’m guilty of being hard on myself. I would stress over trying to work out regularly, and I would miss the chance to simply enjoy being on vacation! Learning to forgive myself is important in the ability to enjoy life in the here and now. I shouldn’t expect myself to be perfect.

Now, what helps me actually fit in time to exercise is making a firm commitment to it before the vacation even begins. Making a commitment to exercise holds me accountable. It even brings out a bit of my competitive nature, and a healthy dose of competition can be a great motivator! Also, a commitment avoids any wishy-washy, wet noodle kind of decision making. I’m less tempted to throw all exercise efforts out the window!

Planning is another strategy I use against totally slacking in the exercise department while on vacation. I think about where I’m going, if I will have access to a fitness center, what activities I will be doing, and so on and so forth. I make sure to pack a couple pair of workout clothes and good workout shoes. If I’ll be walking a lot, I just wear the workout shoes. One less item to pack! Figuring out my options ahead of time makes it a lot easier for me to get up off my bum and get a little exercise. Sometimes that means being creative.

I recently visited family in Texas and a couple hour layover at the airport. I used that time to walk up and down the long terminal, weaving around people and checking out the destinations as I passed by each gate. I’m sure the folks watching the security camera were wondering what I was up to, speed walking back and forth through the terminal! It felt good, though, to stretch my legs and get in some exercise.

If you’re ambitious, you could pack a yoga mat, jump rope, resistance bands, exercise videos, or, shoot, all of the above! Love to run like Melanie? Scout out potential running trails or safe jogging routes. Staying in a hotel? Book with a hotel that you know for certain has a good fitness center. Call the hotel directly and ask. If you’re really gung-ho about kicking your exercise up a notch, turn your vacation into one that is entirely focused on fitness. Look into fitness boot camp locations.

That may be a bit much for most of us, but let’s not negate the power of stealth exercise – exercise you do but don’t even notice. Stealth doesn’t seem like your standard workout! Vacations are great for this! Walking while sight-seeing through Europe, swimming in the pool with the waterfall slide, hiking in the Smokies, rock climbing in Colorado, doing the hula in Hawaii, horseback riding in the country, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing at the relative’s lake, playing on the beach with a group of your friends, and running through the sprinkler in the backyard are just a few examples of excellent stealth exercises! Because they’re so much fun, we tend to do them for longer periods too, and that just means more exercise. Cool.

Wait! Now that I think of it, I can get a ton of exercise while on vacation! Hey, not bad. So, of course, this means I should be going on vacation all the time. For the sake of maintaining fitness, naturally. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Going on Holiday

I'll be on the road to my vacation on the beach in less than 2 hours!

Excited is an understatement.

I just wanted to give you a reminder that you'll find guest posts while I'm gone. Please enjoy! I didn't schedule any to post on the weekends since I know the readership is down on those days, but you'll find something to keep you entertained on the weekdays.

I look forward to sharing details and pictures about the trip when I get back. I should warn you... don't expect to see me tan. I'm unbelievably fair and fully believe in using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, so about the only change that will happen is that more of my freckles will come out. It's inevitable.

Have a great time while I'm on vacation! I look forward to catching up with you all when I return!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One Day Until Florida

I can't believe I'm leaving tomorrow to go on vacation.

Then again, I'm vacationing off and on all summer and this is actually trip 3... but this is the BIG one. This is the one where I'm gone for more than 3-4 days. This is the one where I have to pack for more than just a weekend. This is the one that requires lots of sunscreen and a few two-piece swimsuits. This is the one that requires a 12-hour drive. This is the one that means I have to get a GOB done at work so that things run smoothly while I'm gone ('cause you know this girl will not give work a second thought until she's back in TN). This is the one where I will have no means of modern day communication...

Ok, I take that back. I will have my cell phone. And I will use it. But other than that! No Internet!!! I'm actually kind of excited. I love the Internet. I love making blog posts and logging into Google Reader to keep up with the ones I read daily. I like getting emails from friends, and sending some back in return. I like perusing Facebook photos when I get bored. I like looking things up that I'm curious about... but yet, it's kind of nice to have the occasional week where I give all of that up and sit on the beach... reading, laughing, talking, running around, splashing in the ocean, calling people to let them hear the sounds of the ocean, soaking up the sun (not that I'll ever get a tan, but I digress...) and enjoying a worry-free life for a few days.

I've got 5 guest posts lined up for you fine readers, so do keep checking back while I'm gone and read some posts from a few of my favorite blogs. Most of them you've seen over on my blogroll, but I think you'll still appreciate how they bring their own flavor over here to marathon land.

Of course, I have yet to pack... it's just impossible for me to take care of that earlier than the day before. I had every intention to go on and do it last night since most of my evening today will be spent at a cookout. But I suppose it won't hurt if I'm up a bit late tonight taking care of getting everything together. We're leaving after work tomorrow, so I wouldn't mind being a little extra sleepy so that I can sleep for part of the drive.

I'm afraid I'll have to leave you hanging on pictures from the race this weekend. I'll get some up (and some of my trip!) when I get home...

Monday, June 23, 2008

The 10-Mile Race I Wasn't Prepared For...

May I first just say how hard it is to go to work when you know you are leaving in less than 3 days for vacation?! Today is dragging by...

Also, don't worry about having some good reading material while I'm gone. A handful of people will be submitting some guest posts that I'll schedule to publish while I'm gone, so keep coming back and give them some love.

I'm sure you're all dying to know how the race went on Saturday. The truth? It went surprisingly well. Considering I'd run very little and had been quite sick lately, the fact that I ran it only 9 minutes slower than last year (when I was in marathon shape) honestly caused me to feel a little impressed with myself. I think that when you're a distance runner, you don't lose it quite as quickly as you might think. I mean, I definitely ran slower... but I still ran 10 miles and felt just fine after I finished and cooled off.

The first two miles were a little tough, but then I found my groove and settled in to run for the last 8 miles. I finished in 1:37... and I won't lie - my ipod shuffle was so in sync with what I needed to hear the entire run, so I'm sure that helped.

My pal Bennett from K-town came in to run, so that made the whole thing even more fun. After the race and checking out the festival we headed out to have a terrific southern lunch before I went home to take a nap. The post-race nap is one of my favorite parts.

I'll try to get some pictures posted before I head out of town, but things are a little busy these next two days. I haven't even started packing yet - eek!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another Friday, Another Week Behind Us

Today I decided to check and see if there have been any new Google searches of interest that have brought some of you my way... the most prominent searches still seem to be searching for my name (this brings up a lot of people who are NOT me, which I'm sure is a pain in the butt for anyone who meets me and is trying to do a background check... don't worry, we know we all do it) and searching for things related to marathons. In particular, a lot of people are searching for more on the RC Cola and Moon Pie run in Bell Buckle... I hope that they appreciated my anecdotes on the race and that some of them decided to sign up.

But there were a few new ones today that stood out:

  • jonathyn rhys meyers - Well this makes sense considering I posted recently on what a total hottie he is.... apparently I'm not the only one who things so
  • harvard law - I doubt this person found what they were looking for, but at least they found out that my best friend is totally awesome and just graduated from there
  • some girls chase boys/ i used to chase boys and now I pass them - this is certainly because of my awesome "some girls chase boys... I just pass 'em" shirt" - rock on ladies
  • chelsie died - yes, she did... chelsie being my cat that died last year... somehow I don't think this was what this person was looking for
  • melanie blair community centre - I've always thought it'd be cool to have a building named after me, but as far as I know I've never given enough money for that to be possible
  • melanie peshke - not me, but I'll be sure to let you all know when the day comes that I change my last name
  • nerdy 3-syllable names - I admit to being a bit of a nerd, but I wouldn't go so far as to say my name is nerdy...
  • rainy day fun + boyfriend - intriguing... I have no idea what post this search would pull up since I have never written about having any sort of rainy day fun with a boyfriend... but it sounds like a good time
  • siddhartha when someone seeks quotes - I did write a post about Siddhartha when I finished reading it...
  • what happens when you need the loo when running a marathon - stop and use it
  • what should i talk about on my first date with him - I'm also not sure this person found what she was looking for, but my best advice is to always be real... if you click, you'll find that you have plenty to talk about... chances are you'll get to the end of the first date and realize you have a million more questions to save for the next date(s) since you ran out of time... have fun getting to know each other!
  • charlotte believe in love - I'm willing to bet this is connected to Sex and the City and my post about how I'm a lot like Charlotte the eternal optimist...
  • revenge break up songs - hmmm, I don't condone revenge, but I do like Rilo Kiley's "Breakin' Up" song that I made a post about

I just think it's interesting to see what sort of searches land people on my blog. Whether you found what you're looking for or not, welcome!

In other news, it's been a nice Friday. I've gotten a lot done and am glad it's almost the weekend. It's been an exceptionally good week (in case you haven't noticed from all the leaping and spinning about and bursts of general merriment that have made up my posts this week), but I'm still glad it's time for a few days off. This girl needs to start packing for Florida. Only a few more days til I'm on the beach soaking up some rays (with my SPF 30 on, of course) and reading a good book. I can hardly wait.

Stay tuned to hear how my race goes tomorrow. I'll try to include pictures, too!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yep. It's another beautiful, sunny, happy day here in Tennessee. I certainly like it that way.

Speaking of Tennessee, want to know one of the random things I love about living here? Some of the random stuff you can see in a normal day. Today I was driving back from lunch and passed a guy wearing a reflective vest driving down the road on a 4-wheeler. I secretly wished that I knew him and could stop and hop on. It's been a while since I've been on one, but I grew up riding them at family gatherings through nearby woods, and it was always a blast.

No, I'm not a redneck. But I like to have fun.

So did anyone hear about the woman who had sextuplets last year and ran a marathon this month to celebrate their 1st birthday? That's going to be me one day... well, not the sextuplets part, Lord forbid. That's a LOT of babies to carry, give birth to, and raise...

But I'm a runner, and I don't anticipate a baby changing that. If you're already a runner, you can run for quite a while during a pregnancy, and if all goes well you can usually get back to it pretty quickly after the birth. I'm sure a baby is tiring and a lot of work, but I can't imagine giving up running. I'm just saying that I could see myself setting a new running goal after having a baby. I certainly respect this woman for making it happen after having six. Then again, maybe going out for a run after putting the 6 kids to bed each night was the only way for her to stay sane...

I also read a story this morning about a recent high school senior who applied and was accepted to SEVEN Ivy League schools. He's choosing to go to Harvard. Amazing.

I'm hitting up the gym today. For those of you following along, I've slacked off a bit these last few weeks as I've traveled and been a little under the weather. But I'm finally feeling better and am going to squeeze in a few gym trips before I head to the beach week. If nothing else, I could stand to do a few extra crunches before I start strutting around in a bikini for 8 days.

Ok, so I don't actually do much strutting. It's usually more of a "run as fast as I can through the sand to a perfect spot and get my towel down as quickly as possible so that I can get on it and not burn my feet in the sand." But I like to think it's at least a graceful looking process.

Back to work now (still chipping away at things before I leave for a bit), but I thought I'd share a few thoughts for the day. Have a good one!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elation Continues to be Present

So remember how yesterday I was all excited and having a terrific day?

It only. got. better.

After a pleasant evening in good company with about 20 people at a mexican restaurant, I was driving home listening to the new Coldplay album for say, oh, the fourth time all day. (Yes, that's excessive, but I tend to listen to new albums over and over for the first few days I have them.. and this one is AMAZING.)

I had rolled back around to the first song, an instrumental piece called "Life in Technicolor" that I already have come to know and love. I was digging it - again - and coming down a big hill on the interstate when I looked up and there it was...

A shooting star.

And not just any shooting star... this one was unbelievably bright and seemed to kind of just gently fall through the sky for way longer than most shooting stars I've ever seen.

All I could do was smile, and I must admit I got a few warm fuzzies. It was one of those really fantastic moments where everything just seems good and perfect. It definitely was a great way for my day to end. These are the kinds of moments that make summertime one of my favorite times of the year.

The weather continues to be gorgeous today. It's warm, but not hot. It's bright and sunny (so much that I felt blinded driving to work today), but it's not too humid. There's a breeze. Lovely.

Hope everyone is having a great week... I know mine has been shaping up pretty well so far, and it's all downhill from here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm Walking on Sunshine...

Whoa, whoa whoa!

Have you ever felt so excited that you thought you might throw up?

Yeah, I know it's a gross image. Deal with it.

But seriously, I got some exciting news today and was so ecstatic that I couldn't finish my lunch. Maybe my body just didn't want peanut butter today, but still...

On a whim, I suggested that my best friend join me and the fam for a few days in sunny Florida on vacation. I hadn't gotten my hopes up because she's busy rockin' out her life in Boston (not to mention preparing to take the bar next month), but she's opted to take advantage of this golden opportunity and join us. Woohoo!!! Of course, I have vowed to quietly read a book while she studies a bit each day, but still... we're going to have a fabulous time.

Then I realized I have a lot to be excited about right now. This is shaping up to be a pretty fantastic week, and it's only Tuesday!

Not only do I have a 10-day vacation to look forward to, but now I get to look forward to Steph joining us for a few days.

And I've pretty much been rockin' out at work lately to get tons knocked out so that me being gone for 6 days will not cause everything to fall apart. Plus, I promised to get an office operations manual completed before I go for one of our customers, so I have to get that done.

And I'm running one of my favorite races this Saturday. Nevermind the fact that I'm terrifically underprepared (and while we're at it, let's also forget that I'm going to be donning a bathing suit in less than 2 weeks and I've hardly worked out this past month).

And one of my really good friends from Knoxville is also coming into town to run said race. He is, in the words of the Bob, "a hoot." We all love having a good hoot around.

And we'll be eating lunch at one of my favorite places that I pretty much only eat at once a year following this Bell Buckle race.

AND... there may be more. But that's between me, myself, and I for the time being.

Needless to say, it's a gorgeous day outside (seriously, it's surprisingly pleasant and not hot and humid here in TN today) and I'm fighting to end my break and get back to work. I feel like I could go run for hours right now. Or spin around in circles like a little girl. Or kiss someone.

I'm happy. And excited. And really looking forward to a lot of things now.

Can I add one more? I bought the new Coldplay album when I went home for lunch. I'm letting the old ipod charge a bit, but then I'm turning it on and checking out the new tunes while I work on this manual. Nothing like a new album to make work a little more exciting, especially when you're having a terrific day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Monday (and a call for Guest Bloggers)

I won't lie. The weekend wasn't quite as lovely as I had hoped, but this was only because I still felt like absolute crap.

Friday after work? I watched tv on the couch until moving to my room to watch some tv in bed. I did get a phone call from a friend that went something like this:

M: Hello?
Him: Hey, sorry to interrupt your Friday night...
M: It's ok - I'm just watching tv in bed... Thinking to myself: Wow, what a lame way to spend my Friday night... although no one would want to hang out with me and my stuffy nose tonight anyways...
Him: Well, I have a quick question that I knew you'd know the answer to... what do you call it when a word is spelled the same forward and backward?
M: A palindrome.

And so on and so forth. It occurred to me the next day to question what it says about me that friends call to ask me such questions...

Saturday? I got my run in, even though I probably should have stayed in bed. It went surprisingly well, and I enjoyed it, as you can tell from yesterday's post.

I also FINALLY caught up with the rest of the female world and saw Sex and the City. I didn't expect to laugh as much as I did. There were a lot of terrifically funny scenes. I also teared up a bit at a particular scene where there was much yelling and crying (I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet). I would like to think that I have friends that would be as good to me as Carrie's friends in such a situation. I feel like I've surrounded myself with those kinds of women... they're always there for me now. Good girlfriends are truly one of life's blessings.

I did grab coffee with a new friend later that evening, but I was seriously home and asleep by 10pm.

Sunday? I slept til almost noon. It was fabulous, but I should have stayed in bed. I felt worse yesterday than I have all week. I hung out at my parents' for a while since it was Father's Day and we watched Sydney White. It was a pretty decent flick with Amanda Bynes and Matt Long (who is a total hottie, if I may say so). We made a trip to visit my grandparents and take them to Cracker Barell before coming back home and watching The Nanny Diaries. Let me just say that these 2 movies are totally the kind of movies to watch when you're on the couch feeling yucky.

I finished my evening by conducting a rinse of my sinus passages. This is totally not glamorous in any way, shape or form. Has anyone else heard of these NetiPot things? I got something similar made by NeilMed. Without being too gross and graphic, you basically squeeze this saline rinse up one side of your nose and it travels through your sinus passages and comes back out the other side of your nose. Yes, it's gross. No, it doesn't hurt at all. Just make sure you keep your mouth open and breathe through it. I really think it helped a lot because I immediately felt all of the pressure in my head was relieved. Even though I totally could have slept in today, I feel a million times better. I seriously recommend this thing... but it's definitely something to do when you're alone. I can't imagine someone watching me use this thing... ew.

I have an incredibly busy week ahead with a lot of places to be and things to do. Some I'm looking forward to, and a few things I'm just ready to get done before I go on vacation next week.

Speaking of vacation, I'm going to be missing from the blogging world for about 10 days. I realize this is a long time, and I know you're going to miss me lots, right? I don't even want to think about what my google reader will be like when I return (but believe me... I will sit down and read all of your posts, so keep them coming).

Anywho... if anyone would be willing to venture over here to marathon land and write a little something, I'd love to have a few guest bloggers while I'm gone. I don't feel the need to have one for every day, but if I could have 4-5 posts to leave in the autopost machine, that'd be awesome. Just go to the sidebar and click to view my full profile and you'll find a link where you can email me. Shoot me a line if you're interested in writing a post. I don't have any specific requests... just bring a little of your own flair and relate it however you might like to my bloggy world. If you want to write one, let me know and we can converse more... and I'll need it by next Tuesday so I can enter it on here before I leave.

Hope everyone's week has a good start!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pictures from my weekend in Boston

Enough said.

Me with the graduate

Me with John Harvard

We are AWESOME at Rock Band!

Graduation also means presents!

Pretty side street in the Beacon Hill area

Out at tea

The Improper Bostonian

The tortoise and the hare statue in honor of the Boston Marathon

Fenway Park

I know this isn't a ton of pictures, but I hope it gives you a taste of the weekend. Good times were had with good friends!

Another Installment of Running Advice

I ran yesterday morning for the first time in a little over 2 1/2 weeks. It went pretty well, all things considered. One of the coolest things? When we got to the park, we found that there had just been a small wedding. It was kind of neat to see the bride and groom saying bye to their guests and having their picture taken. It was a small wedding, and I questioned why one would decide to get married at 7am... but still neat to come across at the start of the run.

While running, I thought of a few pieces of advice that I thought may be helpful at some point to fellow runners.

If you haven't gone for a run in a few weeks, don't worry too much about the first one back on the path. You probably haven't lost much. But still... be sensible in what you do. I opted for a 6-mile hilly loop to get ready for the hills of the race I'm running next week.

If you're running up a hill that is about a 1/2 mile long and you find you're unbelievably out of breath, then stop and walk. Catch your breath. Start running again.

Feel free to tell your running partner to go on without you, especially if you don't mind running a few miles alone.

Don't listen to the voice in your head that says your crazy for running 6 miles of hills... after a 2 1/2 week hiatus... and when your head is so congested you can't breathe well even when you're not running.

Crank up the volume on some of the terrific tunes on your ipod and keep running.

When it starts to rain a bit, pause the ipod. Listen to it as it hits the trees above you. Listen to the birds chatting away with one another. Be thankful that the trees keep it from pouring on you, but that they do allow some mist to get through and cool you off.

Pretend your water bottle is a baton and you're the star runner on a track relay team (you'll forget the way you feel that last hill in your thighs).

Slow down when you're going downhill, especially if the path is wet. Marvel in the fact that it's difficult to make yourself slow down.

Smile and wave as you pass walkers. Be proud of them for getting out there and being active. Secretly be proud of yourself that you've somewhere changed from a walker to a runner.

Go home and hit the showers, and then maybe climb back into bed. It won't cause you to wake up feeling less congested, but the extra hour or so of sleep will do you good before you head out for your Saturday afternoon.

Later that day, admit that you probably were insane to go fo a run when you feel so yucky and congested, but then realize that you really are a runner... because nothing keeps you from getting out there and doing your thing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th

If you weren't already aware of this, I was born on a Friday the 13th. Seriously. It was dark and stormy. Also seriously. I'm sure it was bound to have made my mom a little more nervous than she already was about having her first child. Something that's kind of crazy to me is that she was the same age as I am now... goodness knows I'm not ready to be popping out any babies, nor have I already been married for 5 years like she had at 25. Regardless, she and I are some of the least superstitious people I know. How could we be considering I was freaking BORN on a Friday the 13th? I'm of the opinion that it doesn't matter if a penny is on heads or not... it's still a penny I'm picking up to put in my piggy bank.

I think the thing that makes the whole Friday the 13th thing even more interesting is my black cat Tucker. That was a fluke, I swear. I didn't go looking for a black Halloween cat, but that's the one I fell in love with when I came across a litter of free kittens.

To be honest, I remember that I've always felt myself to be especially lucky on Friday the 13th when it rolls around. I recall a few times in high school where I had an especially good day... maybe I won a contest or found out about getting a scholarship... maybe a cute boy flirted with me... things like that.

I can't say that anything all that interesting has happened today, other than it is dark and stormy outside right now and I'm about to go home to my black cat. But the day isn't over yet... so I suppose we'll see.

Happy Friday the 13th to you all!

*picture found in random friday the 13th article on

Thursday, June 12, 2008

She said, "I Think I'll Go to Boston..."

A little over 3 years ago, my best friend Steph decided to move to Boston to attend Harvard Law School. I remember I bought her a copy of Legally Blonde... not because I thought she's anything like Reese Witherspoon's character, but more because it was just funny and seemed like an appropriate congratulations kind of gift. I think she liked it if I remember correctly. I was so excited for her (though personally, I had hoped she'd choose Vanderbilt and be in the same city as me again... but I'd rather her do what's best for her and that was Harvard). I never felt surprised when she told me she had applied and got in... I always knew she's the kind of gal who goes out and achieves things. Big things.

All of that seems so long ago now... I think in part because so much has changed in both of our lives since that time.

One thing that hasn't changed? I'm still really proud of her. So on Wednesday afternoon, I headed to the airport full of excitment about going up to Boston for her graduation. And then I found out my plane was delayed for 2 hours. Yay, fun.

I finally got to Boston around 11:30 that night and found it to be quite cool. It remained cool the next day when we all headed to Harvard for the graduation... outside. But a little cool weather never hurt anyone (at least not until you go back to HOT weather and then your sinuses freak out like mine have last week, but I digress...) We had a terrific little lunch at the law school graduation (that included champagne, because that's how Harvard rolls) and proudly watched as Steph walked across the stage with much pomp and circumstance of her own and receive her very impressive Harvard diploma that she spent 3 years working her behind off for... By the way, "we" being her parents, sister, husband, me and her dad-in-law.

After the law school graduation was over, we headed across campus to the something-or-other theater (and I kind of wanted to tell the official Harvard people that it just looked like a big open space between buildings to me) for the last ceremony of the day... which turned out to be a meeting of the alumni association. I suppose they wanted to go on and rope in all the new alumni. We didn't mind, however, because the keynote speaker was none other than Ms. J.K. Rowling.

Yes, allow me to repeat it... I heard J.K. Rowling speak. Some of you might not give two flips, but as an avid reader/writer, I fell in love with the Harry Potter series. Rowling is an incredibly talented storyteller/writer with a vivid imagination. If I could write only half as well as she does, I'd be pretty pleased with myself. She was witty. She was smart. She shared some good ideas. I soaked up every moment.

The rest of Thursday was spent back at Steph's having a graduation party. She and some of her friends decided to have all of their families come over to get together for much pizza, salad, desserts, and plenty of beverages to choose from.

Friday was also rainy and cool, so we lounged around a bit and went out for a nice lunch. Steph and I stealed away for a few hours to do a little shopping while everyone else napped or caught a movie. I had to hit up the local H&M and scored a couple of cute tops, and Steph found a fabulous dress. I really wish we had H&M in Nashville. My emails to their contact on their website are apparently not getting through to them. After this, we had a nice dinner in the Harvard area and then spent the evening playing Rock Band.

This is when I decided Rock Band is my new favorite video game. I LOVE playing MarioKart on my Super NES, but I'm really tempted to go out and buy the system and Rock Band... or at least Guitar Hero. SO much fun.

Saturday we found the temperature had spiked to 90 degrees (it felt like home!) and the sun was out. We headed downtown on the train to have lunch and explore the Boston Commom and Beacon Hill area. Then it was back to the Harvard area to get dressed up and attend a tea. Yes, like a traditional tea. It was fantastic. There were savory and sweet things all around... chicken salad sandwiches, cheese biscuits, brownies.. yum! I tried out some mint tea and found it to be to my liking, and there were also glasses of champagen. I didn't realize you had champagne at a tea, but I didn't complain about having both a hot and cold beverage to go with all the treats.

We ordered dinner in and played some more Rock Band. Later that evening, I headed with Steph and Patrick to a quaint little Harvard pub called The Thirsty Scholar (fitting, no?). We met up with a few of Steph's friends and laughed and chatted the evening away.

We still had great weather on Sunday, so we went downtown to take a trolley tour around downtown Boston. Our tour guide/driver was fantastic... great sense of humor and sound effects to go along with the stories he shared. I've seen Chicago, NYC, San Diego, Dallas, Charlestown, and Las Vegas... and out of all of these big cities, though all uniquely different, I have to say that Boston is the one I find to be the most charming. I think it's because of the heavy European influence, and I love Europe.

After a quick lunch, it was time for Steph to whisk me off to the airport. Our weekends together always fly by faster than lightning it seems. We're hoping to plan a trip in September or so to go up to Toronto and visit our pal Amanda so that The Wrecking Crew can reunite at least once this year. And, the advantage of Steph moving to Chicago soon is that it's both easy and cheap to fly between Nashville and Chicago (in theory, anyways... obviously the fuel prices and airlines are making the "cheap" part more difficult.)

All in all, I had a fabulous weekend and was so excited to be part of such a big day in Steph's life. I had a terrific time celebrating with her and her family all weekend. I don't even mind that I came home and promptly got sick because of the crazy weather changes. It's totally worth it.

I'll post some of the pictures from the weekend in a separate post soon. I'm still not quite at feeling 100% better, but I definitely feel better today than I have all week. Thanks for welcoming me back and for all the comments saying you love the design.

There are several things on the horizon in my life that I'm feeling excited about. This summer has definitely gotten off to a good start, and I'm hoping it will keep going that way. Stay tuned for more on my summer adventures as the days go by.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

All Down Hill After Wednesday

Yesterday, I felt like I was at about 40%. After a 2-hour nap after work and then taking Benadryl and getting a solid 8 hours of sleep last night, I feel back up to about 80% today. I'm contemplating another nap after work before heading to a meeting later tonight.

So I'll just owe you all the Boston update/pictures next time around.

There's a chance a friend of mine who currently lives in France might be crashing at my place for a few days while he's here trying to sort things out to possibly move back to our fine land. I realized as I stood looking around yesterday that I haven't done laundry in about 3 weeks (and have more of it piled up than usual due to two weekend trips in a row). I also haven't cleaned the bathrooms in a while... I'm a neat person, so they're not terrible. But still... they could use a cleaning. And I spotted Tucker batting around some dead bugs in the corner the other day. Ew. I went on and cleaned those up. I hate how so many bugs turn up INSIDE during the summer.

I have a good feeling I won't be doing any of those things today. I also won't be running. It's been 2 weeks since my last run, and if you're keeping up then you know I have a race next Saturday. I fully intended to run most days this week, but this darn sinus crap has kept me from it. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to get a short one in before I attempt to get out for a longer run this Saturday. I do still have all of next week to whip myself into shape, and I've also been thinking of the 10-miler as a "for fun" race because it's a pretty sure thing that I won't be killing my previous time. I ran a 1:28 last year in part because I'd run a full marathon a month before. This year I've been a bit of a spring running slacker. I say all this in an effort to make myself accountable to you dear readers... I WILL get my butt into gear as soon as I feel better. I need to start training now if I want to pull off another marathon PR in December.

This isn't the most interesting post ever. Sorry guys. I'm just not feeling like 100% yet... let me rest up more and I promise to be back soon with more interesting updates of my travels. I'm home this weekend, so I'm looking forward to relaxing and catching up with local friends I haven't seen lately since I've been traveling. I'm hopeful to hit the pool at some point and attempt to get a tiny bit of color on my skin. (I know - tanning is bad. Don't worry... I never get a tan. I just get a tiny bit less pastey.)

BTW - To the guy who honked at me and raised his hands in the air at the 3-way stop today: just because the car in front of me has just gone does NOT mean it is your turn. I pulled up to the stop and came to a complete stop and had already started to go before you ever even stopped. It was my turn. That's how it works. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back in Tennessee (for now)

Hello dear readers! Did you miss me?

First, I'd like to mention my new blog layout/design. Since I started this blog about a year ago, I decided it was time for a little makeover. I turned to the very talented Ashley over at Great Grabbie Designs to design something for me. I'm so incredibly pleased with what she came up with for me. If you read my posts on a reader, make sure you click over to my page and check it out.

I got back into town on Sunday evening and found that you all had posted 163 posts during my absence. Wow! I've spent the past couple of days catching back up. I'm glad to hear that most everyone is also enjoying the start of their summers.

I promise a post about my trip to Boston (and pictures!) sometime this week, but for now please forgive me for not offering much substance today. It was in the 90's when I left here Wednesday and in the 50's when I arrived in Boston. After 2 days, it jumped to the 90's up there. So I promptly woke up Monday morning and found that such extreme weather hopping wreaked havoc on my sinuses. I'd really love to be curled up on my couch asleep right now.

In the meantime, know that I had an incredible time and that I'm so very proud of my best friend. She's going to be one hell of a lawyer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Odds and Ends

Anytime I say "odds and ends" I think about the Gillian Welch song with that title and then can't get it out of my head.

I'm less than an hour away from heading home to clean up a bit and head to the airport for Boston. Excited is truly an understatement.

But to pass the time and to meet your blog reading needs, allow me to share a few stories. These will have to tie you over for a few days because you probably won't here from me until I'm back in the south.

I had finally found some hair curlers I wanted and opted to order them online from ULTA Beauty Supply. We have one of these stores in town, and I LOVE it. However, they don't stock the curlers. So I ordered. And two days later they were here! I get such things delivered to my work since someone will always be here to sign for it. When I came back from lunch, the guys were in the breakroom (the guys being two married men 10-15 years older than me that I work with and have a blast with every day).

"We want to know just what exactly you're having delivered here!" I looked at the box. They had changed ULTA Beauty Supply to ULTRA Booty Supply. I laughed SO hard. When I opened it to check out my curlers there was a lot of that bubble wrap stuff, so the joke was that I'd stuff that in my back pockets to get an ultra booty. This is one of many reasons why I love my job...

I got my hair cut yesterday, which was fabulous. I love how it looks and feels when it's been freshly cut. It also curls better, which is ideal since I'm going to be looking nice all weekend at various activities around the Boston area. While I was getting mine done, a couple walked in with a boy who looked all of 2 years old. I would assume he's had a haircut before, but apparently had forgotten that it's really not so bad. The kid screamed bloody murder the. whole. time. I mean, I don't know if he didn't like it that his parents were holding his head still or if he was really that mad that they were taking away his hair. His face was redder than any tomatoe I've ever seen. I felt really bad for the girl trying to cut it. Note to self: find a way to prepare future kids for hair cut before I take them to get one. Or do it myself at home.

And one more story for you today... we have these signs all over the town I live in about the town ordinance that you can't park on the street, especially in neighborhoods. (I'm sure a lot of money was spent on those signs. What an important issue to spend money on.) Yesterday, I saw a police officer parked on the street in my neighborhood. What was funny to me was that he was right beside one of those signs.

I know - he's a police officer, which apparently means he can break the rules. But still, it made me laugh... and I was really tempted to stop and take a picture and send it in to the newspaper. Not because I care, but just because it was so funny.

That does it for today folks. I'm off to wrap a few things up and head to the airport. I realized a short while ago that I'll be in the air right at dinnertime, so I need to find something to tote along with me to munch on later. Keeping my fingers crossed that the airlines are running smoothly today.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One More Day 'Till I'm Boston Bound

When I got in the car recently, they were playing "Gangsta's Paradise" on a local station. You know the one... "tell me why are we/ so blind to see/ that the ones we hurt/ are you and me..."

Then I came across this LOLCAT today. I'm wondering if maybe I should adopt a gangsta look or something... it seems to be making a comeback.

Anyways, I spent yesterday evening packing for my trip to Boston! Yay for vacation number 2! If you've been keeping up, I'm going up there tomorrow to see the best friend graduate from Harvard Law. After said graduation, plans will likely include some girly activities like shopping or pedicures... and there will of course be some partying. Unfortunately, our gal Amanda isn't able to join us for this weekend, so we'll be The Wrecking Crew Minus One this go-round.

Packing for these kinds of weekends are always more time consuming for me. I think I packed for last weekend in all of 15 minutes. Last night? 2 hours. I did keep getting distracted by the tv, but part of the time was due to the process:

1 - Determine how many outits are necessary

2 - Determine the types of outfits necessary (casual day, casual evening dinner, party, out on town)

3 - Try on outfits to make sure they look good

The last one isn't always a necessity, but I haven't worn most of my summery clothes since last summer, so I needed to make sure everything still looked ok since last year.

The hardest part? Picking out what to wear to the graduation. Seriously people... this is Harvard. I felt like I needed to strike a fine line between being underdressed and overdressed. I needed to look sharp and sophisticated (and typically, classy is my look anyways so this part was easy). I wanted to be professional, but I also wanted a bit of an edge because if some cute guy wants to flirt with me then I want to look good. :) I finally decided on a little black and white knee-length v-neck dress and red heels. The red and v-neck is my edge... the knee-length and B&W pattern is my classy.

Everything after that fell together more easily... jeans, capris, shorts... flip flops, Sperry's, red heels... 4 cute t-shirts, 3 hot tops for going out, and 2 that can go either way... I probably have a few too many shirts, but one can never be too prepared. I also threw in an extra casual dress in case I have the whim and perfect weather to wear it one evening.

I'm sure you love hearing about how I pack. But my point is, do you find that you take more time and consideration when packing for something you're really excited about? Business trip? Bah - throw some stuff in a bag and call it a day. But going to see your absolute best friend for one of the most exciting weekends in her life? This calls for breaking out your best outfits. Besides, when you plan on hitting the streets of Boston with you bestest, you know there will be pictures... so you wanna look good for that.

Don't worry... these pictures will follow when I return and recover. Believe me... we make the girls' weekends count, so I'll need a few days to rest when I get home.

Looks like my trip to DC is going to work out later in the summer... now I've just got to figure out if I'm going to make it up to Chicago as well. I've also still got a week on the beach in Florida and a trip over to Memphis to see DMB to look forward to. This is already shaping up to be a fabulous summer. Thanks for joining me via the old blog on my adventures!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Vacation Trip 1: Gatlinburg, TN

Welcome back to the work week, folks!

As you know, I spent my weekend on my first little mini-vacation of the summer in Gatlinburg, TN. For those of you unfamiliar with TN, Gatlinburg is outside of Knoxville right next to the Smokey Mountains. It's not really a "must see" kind of place unless you live close enough to drive over for a weekend... then it's worth it.

Mom, my sister and I headed out Friday after work, stopping to grab Mellow Mushroom pizza before we got into town. We checked into our hotel in Pigeon Forge (it and Gatlinburg are two towns that are side-by-side and both touristy), and then walked down the strip to take in the sites (aka Go-Kart, Putt Putt, and other activity places) and have some ice cream.

Saturday we were up bright and early to drive into Gatlinburg and peruse the main strip. It's definitely become a tourist town, but it's still pretty neat to check out the little shops and haggle over purse prices. I found a terrific summer purse for only $22! I picked up a few other odds and ends, and then we enjoyed lunch at The Log Cabin. This is by far my favorite place to have pancakes out of the hundreds of pancake places in town. I tried the blackberry pancakes and think they may be a new favorite!

We drove up into the mountains to go on a walk and take some pictures. We also saw a rattlesnake! I'm not a fan of snakes and I didn't try to get close enough to get a good picture, but it was still kind of neat to see a snake out in nature... from a safe distance... that I could run away from it quickly if it moved my way.

We headed back to Pigeon Forge to hit the Scrapbook Superstore. They have a clearance center where I got a GOB of stuff for $12. Very awesome. We had dinner at the Applewood Farm (another delicious southern meal) before checking out the huge Christmas store. We grabbed some ice cream and crashed back at the hotel room.

Sunday we had breakfast and then hit up this little village of shops. We found The Cat House where they have - you guessed it - all cat stuff, including 6-7 live cats. We spent a good bit of time playing with the kitties. There was even a cat named Bob who is 22 years old! Incredible! If my cat lives that long, I'll be like 45!

We finished the trip out by spending some time at the huge outlet mall. I picked up a couple of shirts at Banana Republic before we loaded back up in the car and headed home.

All in all, it was a terrific weekend with mom and sister. I've added a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. :)

Delicious donut at The Donut Friar

Playing by the river in the Smokey Mountains

In front of Mt. LeConte, the tallest mountain in the Smokies

New purse!

Kitty cat items!

One of two great tops found at Banana Republic