Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mileage

In case anyone is curious, I began tracking my miles on Aug. 1 last year (and believe me, I wish I had tracked mileage from the time I started running my freshman year in high school because I bet it'd be amazing to see how much I've run in the past 11 years).

The total miles I've run in the past year? 639.6

Wow. It was a little disheartening to look at the calendar and see I've done VERY little running the past 2 months, but I think the time off is going to turn out to be a good thing as I get serious about my next race. Fresh legs never hurt anyone.

TIART: Look Back, Look Ahead

***This post is part of the Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday.

When 2008 kicked off, it had only been a few weeks since I completed my second marathon of 2007 with a PR that shaved 26 minutes off my previous best time. I spent most of 2007 training for a full since I ran one in April and one in December, so I had no intention of running another one right away. After a few weeks of taking it easy, I got into half-marathon training mode for the Tom King Half in March and the Country Music Half in April. I had a lot of fun cutting back on the mileage and adding things like cardio classes and yoga to my fitness routine that I hadn't had time for before.

I wanted to break my half PR when I ran the first half in March. I had trained a little harder in the weeks proceeding it, and I was actually pleased that it was raining that morning. I did indeed kill my half PR by a few minutes. After doing that, I decided to take it easy for the next half and just run it to raise money for a local non-profit and have fun with some friends who were coming to town for the race. I did exactly that, and it was a blast.

I did spend some time after that race accessing how the year was going so far. I'd had some great races and some great fun. I didn't have huge goals for the first part of the year, but I met the ones I did have and felt ready to start really thinking about the rest of the year to come.

I made plans for a few short races here and there, but I picked the Memphis Marathon in December to be my next. I have been spending time cultivating a training program... I find that I learn something new every time I train for a race, so I plan to use the plan I used for the last marathon and tweak it a bit in hopes to continue to improve my time. Realistically I want to shave off 11 minutes and run a 4:20. My dream goal would be to land closer to the 4 hour mark. (I'm open for tips and suggestions.)

In order to prepare for Memphis, I also have plans to run the Battlefield Marathon and use it as a training run (though if I happen to rock out and get a new PR there I certainly won't complain).

I've taken a little more time off this summer than I would have liked... part of it is because of my crazy schedule of traveling and doing fun summer things, and the other part is because I spent 6 weeks struggling with allergies and couldn't breathe. I'm getting myself back to it and will begin my all out training in the next couple of weeks.

I'm looking forward to it. I love running in the cooler weather, so I'm looking forward to fall and not having to get up at 5:30am to get in a Saturday long run before the heat sets in. I know that I have what it takes to complete a marathon... now I want to find out if I have what it takes to continue to get faster.

Goals for training? Continue to run 3 days a week and use a variety of speedwork, tempo runs, and long runs. Work in a spin class and yoga class about once a week for cross training. Continue to do some strength training twice a week. Smile a lot. Have fun. Tell people I'm a marathon runner. Start getting excited about Memphis. Run 26 miles twice before race day in order to get the body used to being on my feet for that long. And no matter what, continue to be positive.

If I can do that, I know I'll get to that start line in good shape. I'll run a good race, chasing after that new PR. But no matter what happens, I'm running my 4th and 5th marathons before the end of 2008... and that will be a great accomplishment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Exciting List

Reasons I'm Excited Today:

  • I bought 16 books on border.com today for $58. Sounds unreal, doesn't it? I'm just crafty that way. A lot of them were cheapies, but I did pick up a copy of Bart Yasso's My Life on the Run. He's one of those guys that's kind of a legend among distance runners, and after I read some excerpts in Runner's World and laughed my pants off I had to buy it. I also picked up a copy of The Writer's Market because I'm determined to make my dream of a being a freelance writer come true... we'll see how this goes. Everything else I picked up were just some super cheap novels by a variety of authors I'd been wanting to check out.
  • I'm going roller skating tomorrow night! The son of one of the guys I work with just turned 3, so we're going skating for his birthday party. I love roller skating. When I say I love it, it's because I went every Sunday afternoon for years as a kid.
  • After the roller skating, I'm going to the movies to see the Ultramarathon Man film. It's about Dean Karnazes, a distance runner who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. From what I can tell, tomorrow is the only day it's playing. I'm super excited about watching this and hoping it will inspire me to get my butt in gear for my marathon training.
  • I'm excited about getting my butt in gear for marathon training. I've really felt great after the few runs and classes I've squeezed in, so after my last little trip this weekend I plan on kicking it into full gear.

Reasons I'm Not Excited Today:

  • The Borders website is a huge pain in the butt. It's soooo slow. I've used it several times over the past few days to create my shopping cart, and off of several different computers. It was annoying.
  • Remember this post about the super awesome wristlet purse I found at Target? Don't run out and buy one. Target really let me down this time. I carried it out for the FIRST time this weekend in DC, and the metallic looking color on the outside came off. Apparently the material the purse is made out of is actually white and then has the color painted on somehow, and it totally started rubbing off. I totally got my $19.99 plus tax back. The search is back on for an affordable and cute wristlet clutch for evenings out when I want to downsize my purse.

Something for you to be excited about? I'm going to get my DC pictures on my computer tonight and start working on the post all about the weekend. No promises, but I'm going to try to get it up by Friday. I don't want to get too far behind on writing about trips since I'll surely have things to share after my weekend at the DMB concert.

My Wordle

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Single and Southern in the Summer

Summertime. It's often a favorite time of the year for many people. Numerous songs are written about it, especially here in the country music capital of the world. Tunes by Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw always come to mind. We break out the cute sundresses and flip flops and awesome toe nail colors. There are books to be read while sitting by the beach or the pool. We find more happy hours to attend with friends.

In my 25 years, I have created some really fabulous memories from my summers. Trips with my family to the beach or Disney World. Several trips to Europe. Staying out late with friends. Checking out new bands downtown. Riding rollercoasters at Six Flags. Unfortunately, there have also been a few summers that I would have preferred to skip over... like summers that started with break-ups. There's nothing fun about breaking up with the person you want to do tons of fun summer things with and not being ready to date again until fall.

On the bright side, most of my summer memories are warm and bring a feeling of cheer to remember them. Several things epitomize this sunny season for me, but one of those things is definitely dating. Is it just me or is it not a lot more fun to date in the summer than any other time of the year? It doesn't matter whether you're in a serious relationship or just getting to know someone new, there are a ton of possibilities for fun things to do. A lot of times these great date ideas are totally free or dirt cheap. Movies in the park. Live bands near the lake. Being able to go play tennis or hit the pool.

I find that whenever I'm not in a committed relationship, it's always famine or feast in my dating life. Either I'm not dating anyone and don't feel interested in a soul or there are 3-4 guys that I might want to spend some time getting to know. Last summer found me in the middle of a feast. I'm not really sure what was going on, but it seemed I was meeting all sorts of awesome guys everywhere I went and having the opportunity to spend some time talking, going to cool events and finding out more about each of them.

When it comes down to it, I'm not really into the whole "casual dating" thing, so once I decide I'm interested in someone then I invest myself in getting to know that one person. So by the middle of the summer, I was spending a lot of time with a really great guy. We'd watch movies on my couch. We hit up Frist Fridays (concerts at our local art museum). We drank unusual beers from other countries at local hot spots while sitting on the patio. We witnessed a "longest flight" record at the Red Bull Flugtag. We went to see a few of the summer blockbusters at the theater. We truly had a fantastic summer together before he headed to another city for grad school, and since we hadn't had enough time to really get to know each other we parted ways as friends.

I have vivid memories of riding around the local country backroads with my high school boyfriend (yes, there was only one - I was a late bloomer) and listening to Dave Matthews Band and talking for hours. This was of course back when gas was like $1.47 a gallon and you didn't care if you spent a half a tank driving around with someone you really liked. DMB is another quintessential element of my summers. While this year will be the first time I've made it to a concert in a few years, I spent 3 summers in a row making sure I attended the DMB concert that happened every year. He always plays outdoor amphitheaters, and there's nothing quite like standing outside in a crowd of 20,000 people who all know every word and join in singing and dancing. Whether I make it to a concert or not, I still love to flip the ipod over to DMB and sing along as I drive around town with my windows down (only now I drive directly to and from my destination).

This summer has (so far) been a bit of a famine, but I think this is partly because as I'm getting older I'm also figuring out what I'm looking for and not really interested in spending time with people who aren't it. Instead, I've been spending more time embracing my friends and hitting up some of the local summer events with them. On top of that, I decided that when you're young and single is really the best time to take trips and spend money and basically just embrace it that you don't have to consider another person's opinion on such things. This is why my summer has included 4 trips so far... and I've still got one more to go.

The summer's not over yet, and I don't mind saying that I wouldn't mind a little dating action before it turns cold again. It's always nice to turn fun summer things into dates. But I'm certainly doing my best to rock out this whole single in the summer thing. I've seen more of our fine country this summer. I'll be going to Canada soon if all goes as planned. I've taken advantage of a lot of the cool things that go on around Nashville this time of year. I'm buying an awesome computer I've been wanting. I've spent a LOT of time with some friends that I don't get to see often enough. I'm going to see Dave Matthews Band in a few days. And I'm going to bed at night with a smile on my face at the end of a long, full summer day.

The thing about being an adult is that we don't get a summer break anymore, but I have found that with some creativity and cashing in my air miles I can turn a summer into a fun couple of months that make me forget that I'm a responsible adult who has to work every day. I go to work. I get my stuff done. And then I leave it there to drive off into the hours of daylight I still have left and find a way to make the most of it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back in the South

Our nation's capital didn't fail me this weekend. I had a lovely time. I didn't do everything that I thought would be cool to do (because seriously, 2 days is not enough time), but I got to do everything that I thought was important to do.

And now I'm exhausted. Part of that is because I've only had 5-6 hours of sleep each night for the past few nights... and I was up at 6:45 EST to make the trek home today. There was the metro for an hour. And then a bus for 30 minutes. I had breakfast and a large coffee in the airport. I flew home. I came to work. And I'm about ready to crash.

I'll get the story of the weekend and some pictures up here soon, I promise. For now, I'm going to spend the evening resting up and gearing up for a busy week before I head to Memphis on Saturday. :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Heading to the D.C.

Even though my eyes weren't open yet, I was awake. I knew there was a good chance I'd open them and find that my alarm was going to go off in less than 8 minutes. I crossed my fingers that I'd find I still have 2 more hours. Ok, so I didn't cross my fingers because that would have required moving and I was oh so comfy curled up in the covers with the side of my face smooshed into my pillow. I remembered it's Friday. I'm going to DC today... yippee! Wait, is that rain? Do I hear rain? It can't rain! I'm FLYING today! I finally opened my eyes... 4:32am. Yes... 2 more hours to sleep. And if I'm going to wake up at 4:32am, I suppose rain is a nice thing to hear as I fall back asleep.

Fortunately - the sun is already coming out. It appears it was just a short little rainstorm. Granted, it hasn't rained or been less than 90 degrees in weeks. I'm hopeful it pushed out before flights started up this morning. It'd be nice to actually leave on time for once, knock on wood.

My bag is packed. It's sooo much easier to pack for a weekend that doesn't involve girl friends... or a boyfriend/guy you have a crush on. A weekend in DC with a guy friend and a bunch of his friends? It doesn't require the kind of outfits that are necessary for girls' nights out. It also doesn't require caring about looking like one hot chick all weekend. Then again, I did try to pick out cute outfits because one never knows when one might meet the love of her life. Plus, I plan to take pictures... so I'd like to look cute in them. It's interesting to try to find outfits that 1. are cute and 2. are not terribly hot since we'll be walking a lot, riding the metro and sightseeing in 90+ degree temps.

I even managed to squeeze all my travel toiletries in my quart-sized bag so that I can conform to the sense of sheer paranoia our fine country has decided we need to live in. Want to know what makes the whole toiletries in a plastic bag thing difficult? Shaving cream. Even though I got the tiny travel size, it's still bigger than anything else I had to squeeze in that bag. I'm very proud of myself for packing in a carry-on bag. Again, this is only possible because of the nature of my trip.

I have no idea what we'll be doing all weekend, but I know it will be fun. Another friend of mine has been in DC all summer, and we've talked about trying to meet up tonight for a drink when I get into town. He'll be back in Nashville soon, but we haven't seen each other since like January so it seems fitting that we might as well catch up in DC. AND - I might get to meet the super amazing blogger Heidi. She's been feeling a little under the weather, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed she feels better and that we can work it out to grab a meal sometime. She's totally one of my favorite daily reads, and it'd be my first time to meet one of you bloggers that I don't actually know. I'm super excited!

I can't wait to wander around this city and check out some of the monuments... I'll of course have to snap a picture in front of The Capitol... and the White House... and probably everything else that DC is known for visually. I hope to eat some delicious food. And whether my pal Jemery likes it or not, if we end up near an H&M I'm going in!

Sometimes I daydream about living in a big city like NYC, Chicago or DC. It's not something I'm feeling especially eager to do right this very minute, but I could see myself pursuing it on down the road... just to give it a try for a year or two. I have no desire to settle or raise a family in a big city (and I don't mean that to offend people who do - I'm just a southern gal who dreams of raising kids in the south), but it'd be nice to have the experience of doing the big city thing for a while. It's really fun to think of maybe trying it out later in life when I'm married and before we have kids. I guess we'll see where life takes me, but for now I'm glad to have a chance to keep exploring some of these cities I daydream about...

I hope everyone has a great weekend! You probably won't hear from me until I'm back Monday, but I promise that as soon as I settle back in and get my pictures on the computer you'll get an update and a glimpse into my fourth vacation trip of the summer.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Take It and Run Thursday: The Tough Stuff

This post is a contribution to the Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday. This week's topic is "Overcoming the Tough Stuff."

I know that some of my regular readers probably think I make it sound like running is just a breeze for me. The truth? It's not. I have never had that natural athletic ability to run fast. In addition to that, I've had to work really hard to build up my base so that I can run longer distances than the average person. I train really well to prepare for a marathon.

There are definitely tough days. For me, it's not really about a particular type of workout. I have great days when I'm doing speed training, tempo runs, ridiculously long runs, and cross training. The tough days always hit at random and are not picky about what my work out plans for the day may be.

I have days when I just feel sluggish. I may have sailed through a 15-mile run the week before and then be struggling to get past mile 6. I find that the first thing I start doing in questioning why I feel so terrible, and some days I just can't come up with an answer other than "it's just one of those days."

How do I overcome those tough moments in training?
  • I remind myself that I've done it before and KNOW I can do it again.
  • I turn the iPod to a terrific tune that is certain to pump me up.
  • I might turn the iPod to a podcast of Garrison Kellior telling stories about Lake Wobegon, because if I can get lost in a funny story I can kind of forget I'm running.
  • I start setting mini-goals for myself. "If I make it to that turn and feel like I'm going to die, then I'll take a 20 second walk break. If not, I'll keep pushing."
  • I keep pushing.
  • Sometimes, I stop. Every now and then it's tough because my body is trying to tell me to take it easy. I don't think there's any shame in cutting a workout short sometimes. When you spend 4 months training for a marathon, there's no reason to feel like you don't have some room to change up the training schedule on occasion.

In the end, I never allow myself to get too discouraged by a tough day. Maybe I'll cut it short, or maybe I'll trudge through to finish feeling less than my best. Either way, tough days are inevitable. The biggest thing I try to do is to keep a wide perspective on my training as a whole. If I allow one day to affect my mentality about training, it'll be difficult to get to that start line with a positive attitude and feeling of excitement. I try to remember that I usually have more good days than bad, so I'm still making it closer to my goals.

My Armpits Hurt

Do you ever have those mornings when you wake up, put your feet on the floor, and then you stand up and think to yourself, "Well, that was a bad idea yesterday" about something you did the day before?

For most people, I suppose such a feeling might be felt in conjunction with a hangover.

For me, it's in conjunction with my visit to the gym yesterday.

I've been trying to not get too carried away as I get back into running about about 6 weeks of hardly running at all. Case in point? I only ran 6 miles last weekend instead of my usual 10. (However, I intend to get back to that 10 quite quickly since I need to start building on it for the next marathon.)

Yesterday I headed to the gym to do the first speed workout I've done in a while. I had it all planned out... a mile warm-up, and then I'd do 6 1/4-mile repeats at a ridiculously fast pace. I knew that I needed to stick with only 6 so that I could make it, and I wanted to go fast so that my legs could see what that feels like again.

I finished up around 4:10 and realized that a class was about to start at 4:15 that I used to take pretty consistently until a few months ago. It's called a 20/20/20 class, and the idea is that it is made up of 20 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of core work, and 20 minutes of strength training. I knew it'd be a tough workout, but in the 10 seconds I debated whether or not to go I decided that I need something to kick my butt back into gear as I start getting myself in marathon mode again.

What I didn't know is that the class is no longer taught by one of the female teachers that I've done classes from many times before. I walked in to find a rather large man wearing an army shirt. I hoped that maybe he is just incredibly supportive of the army and not actually IN the army. This turned out to be a waste of hoping.

This class definitely kicked my butt. We jumped rope. We ran laps (this after I had already done about 3 miles with my previous treadmill workout). We did jumping jacks. We did stuff on the step. We did crunches and other fun ab things on the ball. We did the phantom chair. We lifted free weights. We lifted a bar. We used the bands. We used the bosu. And I was dripping sweat the. whole. time.

As tough as it was, I have to admit I kind of felt like a bit of a bad a$$ the whole time. I mean, despite the fact that I haven't really been on top of my fitness routines lately, I still managed to do everything for the whole hour. Yes, it was hard. Yes, it hurt. But I did it. I walked out feeling tired and incredibly fulfilled.

But it sunk in this morning. My armpits have never been quite so sore. I guess it HAS been a while since I did anything with weights. And oh my legs and hamstrings... it hurts to walk.... as in I'm more sore now than I was after my three marathons. However, it's a good kind of sore. It's a soreness that lets me know I did something that is going to make my legs all the more stronger. That's a great feeling.

Needless to say, I won't be running today. My trip this weekend will also keep me from running, but I should be getting on track better next week and able to stick to my schedule after that. It definitely felt good to challenge myself a bit yesterday and do a little bit extra to start getting by body back to where I want it for my marathon training.

Also, and this is rather random, but does anyone else LOVE listening to 90s dance music when you work out? I realized in the class yesterday that all of the old tunes like "Everybody Dance Now" and "100 Percent Pure Love" really do pump me up. I went home last night and did a search on iTunes for 90s dance music and found so much stuff that I remember hearing back in the day at the rollerskate center. I was cracking up that I still knew so many of the words! But I totally downloaded a bunch of it. I think there's something special about that genre of music from that decade that really helps when pushing through a workout.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Award Time

I have won an award! Thanks to Quirky is A Compliment for thinking that my blog is BRILLANTE! Like her, I'm guessing we're going with the British way of spelling... which makes me think of going around with a British accent and telling others that I think their blog is "bloody brillante." Heehee.

May I just say how I love that the blogging community enjoys bestowing blogging awards to one another? It reminds me of like the Oscars and stuff, where all the Hollywood people get together to celebrate how fabulous they all think that they are when it comes to the big screen. I don't even mean to be sarcastic... there's something nice about other writers coming back day in and day out to read what you're writing about your world. I appreciate the recognition!

I try to add my favorite blogs/daily reads to my blog roll and all are deserving of this award. I can't ever keep up with who has already received certain awards, either.

So, allow me to offer you a list of some new reads I've discovered that I am super excited to add to my Google Reader! (I realize this isn't really the award rules of pass it along to 7 blogs and all, but forgive me... I'm sometimes a rebel.)

Absolut(ly) Fit - I'm always a little excited to find great blogs written by other people who share my joy of running. It's a huge motivator to read about how much running other people are doing! I just found this chick last week and have been loving her archives as I try to catch up. She also has a terrific blogroll (many of other runners!) that I have spent way too much time perusing.

Was It For This - I'm pretty sure I saw that she already received this award from a fellow blogger pal of mine, but I have spent some time lately reading like her entire blog and love it! I have found from her past posts that she and I have a LOT in common. A DC blogger who stays fit and active, she offers posts on a huge variety of topics that I find to be interesting. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Before I'm Thirty - I've been reading this gal for a bit now, and I always really enjoy keeping up with her and how her running is going. Part of what I love about this blog world is being in touch with other people out there running and reaching for goals closely related to mine. She offers some great posts about running as well as some other random things that I always enjoy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Suppose Rambling Thoughts Come with the 20s Territory

There's been a new convenience store/gas station built at the end of the street that I work on. The gas is about a dime a gallon more than it is a few miles away where all the other gas stations are so I'll never stop there to fill up, but it's nice to know if I ever need to whip in and grab a coffee or candy bar, I can. But I bring this new place up because I want to say that I've noticed that pretty much every day since it opened a few weeks back, there have been several men sitting in plastic lawn chairs in front of the store with coffee cups in hand. It's kind of like a Starbucks patio... only... not.

Anywho - I'm having one of those days where I feel kind of contemplative and introspective. I had several good conversations with some fairly new friends at some point yesterday that have made me kind of think about my life and what I'm doing.

I don't want to get too deep into it right now, but I guess it's just got me thinking about the things I'm involved with and other things I'd like to be involved with, and so on and so forth.

I was remembering last night what my first year after college was like. I ended up in a job that I really hated. I worked with a few awesome women, but in spite of that I found myself in tears on the way to or from work at least a few times a week. I felt very discontent not only with my job, but a bunch of other stuff in my life. Eventually, things started to fall into place. I got out of a serious relationship (which I'm glossing over, but it was hard but in the end, also for the best). I quit the job and started working at my current job, which I LOVE. I moved into an apartment with just me and my cat, no roommates. I started running again. I eventually started dating again. And things were good.

Things are still good. I'm happy and have a lot to be thankful for in my life. But I still have so many days where I wonder if something is missing. Sometimes I feel like I know exactly what's missing, and some of those things I have control over and others I have to wait and see how my life plays out. Other days, I can't put my finger on what it is that I think I'm wanting. I waver between feeling totally content and being mostly content with a few holes that I don't know how I'm supposed to fill them yet.

I suppose it's the way life goes, right? It all works out in the end. One day, I'll find myself remembering this place in my life much as I sat last night remembering how things were a few years ago. I've come a long way since then. Things are good. And I guess I have a feeling that they're going to get even better... I just don't know how exactly.

Along these lines, I'm considering if I should continue to be involved with one of the things I got involved with this year. I'm certainly not one to quit things, but I definitely believe that we have to commit our time to the things we love... to the things that we have a passion for and that make us feel alvie... to the things that allow us to meet our purpose. I'm questioning if I'm doing these things with one of the ways I've committed my time. I'm not ready to make a decision, but it's on my mind.

On another notes, I decided to join the Nashville Striders. I've always felt like I should be part of a running club, and they are the only one around here it seems. I don't know why I hadn't joined before... I guess maybe I wasn't sure that I'd find what I'm looking for there. I'm still not sure, but I decided that for $18 I might as well join and get the monthly newsletter and know what's going on. Plus, members get discounts on local races and at local stores. I like discounts. :) I'd also like to get involved with volunteering at some of the local races that I don't run, and I knew this was a great way to go about making that happen. Finally, I am definitely wanting to get involved with things I'm passionate about and where I can meet other people who share my passion. I don't know if I'll find new best friends through this, or if there are even many people my age who are members, but I think having the opportunity to get together with other runners at races and training runs and social activities will be a fun addition to my life. I don't intend on running all my runs with them or anything, but it will be nice to be able to do so.

I realize this post is kind of rambly and doesn't really explain much. I'm trying to make sense of my thoughts, too! I think it boils down to the fact that it seems that most of us in our 20s are searching to find where we fit, what we should be doing, what kind of people we should surround ourselves with... we want to love our jobs, we want friends, we want a significant other, we want to go to sleep knowing we gave our all that day... maybe I'm generalizing, but I think that we're all kind of trying to figure out how to live this life in a fulfilling way. I know I am.

PS - I've really been appreciating everyone's comments lately! You all rock!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Clearing Off the To Do List

You know how we all have a "To Do List" that sits around for ages? I'm not talking about the regular one involving things to pick up at the store, laundry to iron and people to call. I'm talking about the one that consists of projects that you want to do eventually, but they aren't exactly a priority.

I threw mine away yesterday. It wasn't because I gave up... it was because I finished it. Of course, give me about a week and I'll probably start a new one, but for now it's a good feeling.

I slept like 11 hours Saturday night (you would too if you'd been up at 5:30am for a run, then went shopping, and also hadn't slept well the whole week). When I got up I felt really motivated, so I started tidying some things up and thinking through what was on my list. I felt really confident I could knock it all out of the park and that none of it would be hard or time consuming. It's just that none of it is fun, so I'd been putting it off.

First, I heart Apple. And I'm not talking about the unfortunately named daughter of Chris Martin and Gwynth Paltrow, though I'm sure she's lovely. I went to the Apple store to look at the computer I'm considering. This, of course, was very fun. I spent about an hour with a guy named Brandon who told me everything I could possibly want to know about the iMac and what I need to do when I come back to buy it. All I have to say is that Apple knows what it's doing. I think Bill Gates probably has a secret Mac locked away in some hidden room of his house with some sort of rerouted IP address so that no one will ever know. I have always used a PC at home and at work, but I am more and more convinced that Mac is the way to go and I can't believe so many people don't see why. Everything is seamless. Someone needs to send you a document but you don't have Word? No problem.. you can still open it in iPages. And convert iPages documents to Word to send to others. You can keep yuor calendar on the computer and then sync it to your iPhone and vice versa. Built in webcam and microphone that you can hardly see. And oh the clarity of the images on screen... wow. I'm blown away. I can hardly wait to go back and buy.

When I got home, I pulled out my carry-on bag to look at it. I'm kind of determined to only take a carry-on to DC this weekend. I'm only going for 3 nights/2 days, so I shouldn't need a lot. And it's not like a girls' weekend where I know there are a variety of activities to change outfits for... I'm going to visit a guy friend and do some sight seeing. I shouldn't need much. But the bag still looks so, well, small. I guess we'll see when I get down to packing Thursday night. I did make a great list of what all I need to pick up at the store (like 3 oz. bottles of toiletries) and another list of everything to pack. Maybe I'll make it work.

Then, I tackled several YEARS worth of bank statements, credit card statements and receipts. Yes, years... I have no idea why I started keeping so much of that kind of stuff back in the day when I got my own account and my own credit card and all that hoopla, but I did. So I sat down with the whole mess of it (neatly stacked in shoeboxes, of course) and started sorting it all out to determine what to keep, what to trash, and what to shred. I decided it's wise to keep several months worth of statements and any matching receipts for credit card statements, but I want to get on a cycle of keeping it cleaned out once I know I won't need it again. Besides, receiopts for any important purchases always go in a special folder in the filing cabinet anyways. I also opted to keep the check stubs from my first paycheck at couple of different jobs I had... it's sentimental.

Here's the thing... I think universities are a BIG part of the reason why we have such terrible identity theft problesm. I found receipts from where I had paid for my caller ID on campus.. we're talking $5 every month, and every receipt had my FULL social security number on it. I had receipts from where I put money on my ID to use in the cafeteria... again, FULL SSN. Same thing on every single receipt/statement for every semester's tuition. Come on higher education people... can you not at least only use the last 4 digits? Or assign a student ID number that's totally only useful at the school? I realized how ridiculous it is that they use the SSN on everything.

So after that, I tackled all the magazine articles I had ripped out over the past few years. I think it's usually the writer in me that does that... I read a great article and decide I want to keep it. I guess I figure someday I might reference it or something. I had been meaning for months to get it all organized... and recently I read on another blog about some great software called Scanalog so that I can scan articles into my computer and keep them organized there. I'm so going to do that when I get my Mac. It still seemed like a good idea to go on and sort through the stack, so I got everything filed away into separate folders with labels like "Fitness articles," "Relationship articles," "Exercise Routines," "Books" and so on and so forth. It felt SO good to get it done. now, if I'm trying to think of a good book to check out, I can go to my book folder and find where I ripped out a book review of something I thought I'd like to read. Or if I want to do a workout at home but am feeling less than creative, I can pull out a simple abs workout that I ripped out.

I got some laundry done. I got distracted on craigslist looking for some running clothing I want to find at a better price... did you know there's a "missed connections" section? It's stuff like "I saw you in line at the movies with your friends and we smiled and I thought you were cute and so now I want to get to know you." I had a good laugh. On one hand, it's a terrific idea. On the other, if some guy saw me and then posted about it looking for me I'd probably never know because who thinks to go look for something like that? Anyways, my advice is that if you see someone and make eye contact and want to know more, then walk over to them. Then you don't have to wonder if it was a "missed connection." :)

I got some podcasts onto my ipod so that I can listen to them when I run later tonight. Finally, I was exhausted and felt like I had accomplished much. So I settled onto the couch with a piece of yummy goodness from The Cheesecake Factory (because hello - there's one right around the corner in the mall from the Apple store, so you KNOW I got a piece to take home) and The Wedding Date because I'd found it for like $3 and figured it was time to watch it again.

One of my favorite quotes comes from that movie... "The hardest thing is loving someone and then having the courage to let them love you back." I think that's so true.

All in all, it was a really productive day... I was glad to finally do those boring organization things that I'd been meaning to get done. I also discovered I have like 20 empty shoe boxes that I'd been holding on to "just in case" that have now made their way to the cardboard recycling bin, because really - what will I ever use them for?

I also found a box that had flowers in it from an old boyfriend. I didn't even know I still had them. It promptly found its way to the trash as well. It's a good feeling when you can throw something like that away and not even think twice about it. I suppose it's a little sad, but the past is the past, right?

Besides, I'd like to hope that there will be more flowers from some fantastic man somewhere in the coming years... I think I prefer those already.

Hope everyone else had a nice Sunday. It's been a busy day here at work, but I'm looking forward to getting to the gym later this evening and doing my pre-trip shopping!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Morning Thoughts on Dedication

When my alarm went off at 5:30am, I actually groaned. I'm used to getting up for work at 6:30, but waking up an hour earlier is UNPLEASANT. Tucker lifted his head and went, "mew?" as if he was also questioning our early hour.

Here's the thing: if you want to run outside on a Saturday morning in Tennessee, you need to start early. Even then, it's still ridiculously hot and humid. Despite the 6:30am start, I was dripping sweat when I finished 6 miles an hour later.

I opted to be realistic today and only ran 6 miles since I have hardly done much running at all lately. I kept a decent 9-minute mile pace, but still found myself struggling a bit at the end. My legs felt great.... but my lungs were in agony. All of these allergy problems the past 6 weeks have definitely taken a toll.

Despite all of that, I still felt pleased with the run. I got to thinking during that last mile about how I know from experience that I can bounce back from a short running hiatus pretty quickly. Now that I'm getting some allergy relief, it'll be a matter of time before my lungs recover. I'll add some miles and soon be on track with my marathon training. I certainly have plenty of time between now and December 6.

I'm not one to ever pat myself on the back too much, so I hope it won't sound like I'm trying to do so with the rest of this. I started thinking about how when I ran cross country and track in high school, there were quite a few seasons that I was awarded the Most Dedicated award. I can remember always feeling really honored that my coach thought I was dedicated... I felt like I was a dedicated individual. I knew I'd never be the fastest runner or win major races or go to state, but I'd certainly get out there and run my heart out. I enjoyed it, so I wanted to give it my all.

But I guess I'm the kind of person who always gives her all. Somewhere along the way, I became really self-motivated. I wanted to do well in school. I wanted to do well in ballet class. I wanted to do well in running. I wanted to do well in my relationships. It's never been that I wanted to be THE best. I always just wanted to do MY best.

I think that to be a marathon runner, you've got to be dedicated. Sure, there are some people out there that wake up one morning and decide to go run one without training... I question if these people get the same things out of running that I do. When I get in my runs, they may not all be my best runs. Some are a struggle. Some I have to stop early. And I don't PR every time I run a race. But I keep going back for more because I know that if I stay dedicated and don't give up, I can improve. I can become stronger. Anyone reading this knows that the marathon running is a big metaphor for life to me, and I believe that the dedication it takes to train and run a marathon is very similar to the way I feel dedicated to other things in my life.

I WANT to be dedicated. I want to be a fantastic friend and offer much to the people who esteem me as a friend. I want to in time be a great girlfriend and later wife... I want to offer love, loyalty, companionship, trust and so much more to a man. I want to go after my dreams and stick with them, never giving up.

I think you get the jist of what I'm saying. I feel like I'm not being as eloquent as I'd like, but we'll attribute that to the fact it's 9pm and I got up at 5:30am and should crash soon since I didn't get a nap.

My point is this... I don't think we should give up too easily. Things can be tough. Life can bring disappointments. The marathon training involves the same. However, there's something to be said for running that last minute of every training run... of crashing hard at night because of a good workout as well as the rest of the day... of getting across that finish line. Joy. Relief. Happiness. Cheer. Excitement. Pride. A sense of knowing how worth it it's been to have not given up when it would have been easier to do so. I think life is the same way.

SO I will continue to be dedicated to the running... and to my life, to love, to giving, to my family, to my friendships, to my romantic relationship (when it comes along), to my job, to other passions and dreams... I won't always get it right. Some days will be easier than others. But in the end, I think that dedication pays off.

Part of my running dedication? After a shower and breakfast, I headed to Fleet Feet for some new Brooks running shoes. They were having a Brooks sale so I got $5 off as well as a free tech shirt. I can't complain about that.

Another part of it? Those moments when you can relax after getting in a good run (and shopping trip). I spent my afternoon watching movies. It was fabulous.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tidbits

It's a bullet point kind of day.
  • I ran yesterday. It was so good to be back at the gym... I had hoped that maybe a class would be starting around the time I finished my run, but I had no such luck. I really enjoy the variety that a good class provides. It's nice cross training for me. I briefly considered the 5:30am spin class today, but I've been so exhausted this week that I thought better of it when I set my alarm last night.

  • Anyways, I ran 3 miles yesterday. I took it easy with a 10 minute-per-mile pace. It felt good. It took the last bit of energy I had left. I didn't care - I was running again. I'll run in the morning... probably not as long as I'd like, but I'll bounce back quickly.

  • My mom told me she bought Step Up 2 so I have full intentions of watching it this weekend. I'm a sucker for a good dance movie.

  • Speaking of dance, I've watched a bit of So You Think You Can Dance this week. It makes me kind of miss dance, but not enough to pick it back up. I'd prefer to keep living vicariously through other dances. This season, there's a guy named Will on there from Nashville. He's incredible. I wish I had known him prior to the show. He seems like a cool guy.

  • I found a new addiction last night with the show Hopkins on ABC. It's a 6-week documentary about Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. I've missed 3-4 episodes, but I have every intention of watching them all on abc.com sometime. I didn't intend to watch it, but I saw a few minutes and was hooked. It's fascinating.

  • When I walked into my house last night, I found a lizard in my laundry room. I don't know how much you all know about this part of the country, but we don't see too many lizards scurrying around. He clearly had an injured leg because he was just wiggling along. I felt a little bad, but not bad enough to adopt him as a pet. Tucker spotted him as quickly as I did and ran over to smack the crap out of him. I'm so proud that he knows how to protect me from creatures... smaller than him. I had to force him out of the way so I could grab the lizard and toss him out the door. I suppose he wiggled off somewhere. I forgot to look this morning. I'm just glad I got him. I could see myself in bed wondering where the lizard might be if he had managed to scurry away to where I couldn't get him.

  • Doctors offices? Not cool. I told you all a few days ago about how the first clinic I went to made me mad so I went to a different one and received much better care. I got the EOB from the first visit and discovered that according to it, I should have paid a higher copay. Long story involving being on the phone with the insurance company short, walk-in doctors are considered specialists. However, nurse practitioners are not. So I did pay the correct copay, but there's a good chance the clinic will bill me for more since they turned in that I saw the doctor. But I saw a nurse practitioner. So you better believe I'll insist they refile it as seeing the nurse lady and then I won't owe them anything. Heck, they'll probably have to give money back to the insurance folks. How do they get away with turning in that I saw an MD when I didn't? Seems like that shouldn't be legal, seeing as how it's kind of like lying to get more money. But I digress...

  • I'm getting really excited about buying an iMac. I'm going to go to the Apple store this weekend and ask a bunch of questions and really figure out what I want. Then, in true Melanie fashion, I'll sleep on it for a few nights. Even though I've been planning on buying one for months now, I still like to give myself a little time before a large purchase so that I can make sure I don't think of any other questions and such. But it's safe to say that I'll be plugging in a new Mac in the very near future.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Under-Accessorizer

My female readers everywhere (and I have a feeling that's like 98% of you) and maybe even some of my male readers might just gasp at what I'm about to say.

I rarely accessorize. Exercise? That I can and often do. But when it comes to pairing up all sorts of cute accessories with what I'm wearing, I find that I'm not very adept at it. So I usually skip that part.

Every now and then I'll be wearing something and if I see my mom, she'll make a comment about needing "a pretty little necklace" or point out that my purse doesn't match.

Don't get me wrong. I think I am a fairly put together kind of person and that I sport reasonably attractive outfits that flatter me. However, I'm just not usually concerned past the point of making sure I'm dressed in something that looks good.

Jewelry? I usually only wear a sports watch. The only thing I can imagine wearing regularly will be a engagement/wedding ring. I suppose if I worked in more of an office environment, I'd be more inclined to wear more jewelry, but it'd be superfluous here at the cabinet shop. I always figure that if a boyfriend gave me something, I'd of course wear it most of the time, but I'm presently without one so my neck, earlobes, wrists and fingers remain fairly naked. I try to throw on something when I'm dressed for an evening with friends or a date or something. Earrings are usually my staple.

Purses? Oh, don't get me started. I hate purses. If I could get by without carrying a purse, I would. This is, however, usually impossible. I have a tendency to find a purse I like and carry it for MONTHS. I usually only switch purses if I'm going out one night and want a smaller bag.

As I've gotten older and bought nicer clothes, I have started to recognize that accessorizing can add a nice touch. I doubt I'll ever become a professional accessorizer, but I have been making more of an effort outside of work (because seriously... a pony tail holder that's not black is about as good as it's going to get for work).

The biggest problem is that I don't enjoy shopping for accessories. I don't like to buy then unless I can wear/use them with a LOT and if they're reasonably priced. When I determine I actually really NEED something, it's always a challenge to find what I'm looking for.

What I'm leading up to aside from sharing my feelings about accessorizing is that I found the perfect clutch/wristlet purse. I realized when I went out with my sis on her bday that I only have one small bag, but it's actually too small. No one wants to carry a full purse when you're going downtown and dancing. Mine got in the way ALL night.

Then I found it. I wasn't even looking for it. I just walked into Target and it was looking right at me... for $19.99. I can fit my id/credit card holder, phone, keys, camera and chapstick in with ease. It's ideal. I bought it in a color that will go with everything.

I love it when accessories are made easy. This fit the bill. Find it at your local Target or here. It comes in several colors, but I got the metallic because I figure it goes with most of the kind of clothes I wear.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good Intentions

I packed my gym bag last night. Sneakers. Socks since I wear Chacos to work and wouldn't have any on. Shorts. Sports Bra. Shirt. Shuffle. I brought it in this morning. I sat in on my desk. I've looked at it all day.

But I'm not going. Sigh.

I've run maybe 20 miles in the past month. Normally I run 20-30 miles a week. I know some of you are probably jumping for joy and thinking I've gotten my sense back. But really? I miss the running. I miss the weights I lift (ok, so it's nothing impressive, but enough to keep the arms looking nice in a tank top). I miss the cardio classes. I miss yoga. I miss seeing familiar faces at the gym.

I was recording my automatic gym payment in my checkbook yesterday and realized I went once all last month. At least I'm part of the Y and it's non-profit, so I don't mind giving them money. Plus it's not that expensive.

I'd feel guilty... but I've had good reasons for not going. I've been out of town. A lot. And I've been dealing with all this cold/sinus/apparently it was allergies all along mess for like 5 weeks now.

I really wanted to get back into the swing of things today, but I'm exhausted. The allergy medicine is totally helping, but I'm still not breathing as well as I'd like. I still have a bit of a cough. And my appetite has been messed up for a few days, I think mostly because all the problems and the meds are throwing off my taste buds.

If I went right now, I think I'd fall over off the treadmill.

The problem is that I'm running a marathon in December. Yes, that's quite a ways away. However, the training plan got mapped out on the calendar this week and ideally? I should run 11 miles on Saturday.

I had full intentions of being in decent shape at this point. I wanted to be able to jump into the training this week with no problems. Unfortunately, not running much the past few weeks is going to throw me off a bit. But I'll bounce back. I'll still run 11 miles on Saturday... goodness knows if I could go do 10 a few weeks ago when I was REALLY congested and hadn't run in a few weeks that I can manage. It'll be a slow run. And a hot one... have I mentioned the humidity in TN?

So I'm not going to the gym today. Instead, I'm going to go home and take a short nap. And eat a good dinner. And go to bed at a reasonable time (last night couldn't be helped... a girlfriend I don't see often enough was in the neighborhood so OF COURSE I stayed up too late gabbing with her). I've also been doing this annoying thing of waking up like a full HOUR before I need to, and only going back to sleep like 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. Annoying.

I'm putting it out there so that I can hold myself accountable to the blogging world... I will go to the gym tomorrow. And I will run Saturday. And I will go on my normal schedule (assuming I can remember what it was in like April and May when I was on it) and get back into the swing of things. And I'll add back my core workouts and the occasional bike ride. It will feel good. I will feel awesome. I'll be making my way toward meeting another goal at the Memphis marathon.

Of course, I'll be out of town in DC next weekend, then Memphis for DMB the following, and then possibly on a canoe trip the weekend after that... looks like I might really have to kick it up a notch.

Stay tuned over the coming months for more in the adventures of Melanie training for the Memphis Marathon... this will be the 4th one. I'm thinking Chicago 2009 for number 5, but we'll get to that later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Baby Sister is Legal!

My sister is a little more than four years younger than me. It's true that we're closer now than we were when we were younger, but I don't think that had much to do with our age. I liked to read books (often hiding in my closet with a flashlight tied to a piece of yarn hanging from the clothes pole like an over head light... what? you didn't know that was the way all the cool kids read?). She likes to play with little houses and people that fit in them. I liked to stay in my room and go on traveling adventures with my imaginary friends (believe me, I saw the world before I ever actually got on a place). She'd rather play Guess Who? with someone.

It seems she's getting all grown up this days, what with turning 21 last week and all. I've included some pictures of the celebrating we did. I have to say... it's kind of nice that now I can invite her out to some of the cool places around Nashville when I go.

We started the celebration with dinner with family and friends at the Olive Garden. This is her with her boyfriend. And yes, it's a little odd to see my baby sister with a boyfriend. She shouldn't be old enough to be holding hands with someone in front of me.


This is us at her apartment where we had cake and opened presents.

The next night, we went downtown to our favorite piano bar, The Big Bang. Seriously, if you want to know where to go in Nashville and you only have time for one place, go here. I've never had a bad time.

Me with my sis and pal Crystal... I got the totally awesome top at Banana Republic when I was in Gatlinburg. Note: Silky tops are great for sitting at a bar. They are not great for when you get sweaty dancing (which was not expected) later in the night.

She had her first drink! (And it was the only one... she's not into drinking for the time being.)

We moved down Broadway to the Cadillac Ranch (come on people, it's Nashville...) and danced for about two hours. The above picture shows how we felt about the fog machine on the dance floor.

Close up of me and the sis

Seriously, we danced for hours and were all one hot mess by the end of the night. My shirt was almost dripping. Do they not put a/c in bars?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pictures from Florida

So I totally promised you all last week that I'd post a few photos from my vacation in Florida. I've been a little preoccupied this weekend with my sister's 21st birthday (story and photos of that to come soon, too!) as well as my continued snot problems. Get this: the doctor I saw last week had told me to call if the medicine didn't work and she'd call me something stronger into the pharmacy. I called the other day and was told she wouldn't be in til today. I call today and am told since it's been over a week since I was in, I had to come back in. I wasn't pleased. So I went somewhere else, and it turns out I never had a sinus infection. It's just allergies. So now I'm all set with a new medication plan that I feel a little bit more confident about... I guess we'll see.

Without any more hesitation, here are some photos for you!



We were pleased to be tall enough to ride everything!


Meredith was a week shy of being old enough to enjoy a beverage at the Daiquiri Deck.


Ben brought over his Wii and Rock Band for our evening entertainment.


Hanging out one evening on the beach.


Getting up close and personal with a tiger at Busch Gardens.


The Sheikra at Busch Gardens - at the top, you hang over the edge for about 3 seconds before you drop at a 90 degree angle for 200 feet. It's awesome!


A picture of our photo from when we were making that 200 foot fall on the Sheikra.


Steph and me at dinner one evening.


Playing on the beach one day.


Sisters!

I know this isn't a ton of pictures, but it takes too long to post a gob and most of them are just variations of the same sort of thing... sitting on the beach, walking on the beach, walking around Busch Gardens, posing at dinner... and so on.

Stay tuned for the scoop on my night out on the town with my newly legal little sis!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Movies and Computers and Running, Oh My!

So in addition to doing some research about what to do in DC (thanks to the people who have already made a few suggestions - keep them coming!), I've also been spending some time doing a few other things.

Like last night... I stuck with staying in and enjoying some leisure. I came home from work and took a nap while it thunderstormed outside. I find that I enjoy an afternoon nap best when it's raining or storming. It doesn't really have much to do with the sound, though I do like listening to it. It's more that it gets dark enough in my room if the sun isn't out that I can get to sleep for an hour or so.

Then - I watched two movies. You would have thought it was the weekend the way I was curled up on the couch with a glass of wine and my cat (who has been spending every moment in my lap since I got home from vacation. If I'm not sitting, he's following me around and meowing and rubbing against my legs. He's REALLY glad I'm home).

First up, the film Definitely, Maybe. If you haven't seen it, watch it ASAP. I sometimes get tired of the numerous chick flicks that come out and are virtually all the same. This one? it's different. First of all, it's all from the man's point of view. Next, it's a love story that occurs over like 16 years. And finally, I smiled like the whole entire time I was watching. Seriously - I kept telling myself to quit grinning but next thing I'd know I'd find myself smiling again.

Then, I watched Mad Money. This wasn't quite as good as the first, especially since I watched them back to back. I still enjoyed it and found it interesting and funny. It wasn't a waste of time. Granted, I didn't go to bed until like an hour after I usually do, so it was a bit hard to get out of bed today.

Next up on things I've been up to: researching Macs. The sales tax holiday is coming up in a few weeks (unfortunately it's the same weekend that I go to see DMB, but I'll find a way to squeeze in some computer shopping in order to save myself some serious cash in sales tax). I had been pretty set on getting a MacBook, but now I'm kind of leaning toward the iMac. I don't have a need for a laptop. I don't ever need to take a computer with me somewhere. I like to have a computer at home for email, iTunes, making cds, loading pictures, and playing on the Internet. I sometimes think I'll go to grad school eventually, but with that not being in the immediate plan I just don't see any reason to need a laptop. So I'm planning on going to the Apple store soon to investigate and decide for sure what I want... and to find out if I can get it sales tax free if I order online that weekend. And ask about the refurbished ones because I could save even more cash. If anyone has any pointers, let me know. I've used Macs before, but this will be the first I own.

And finally, my mind has been on running... which is good since my body hasn't. I seriously have been a total running slacker, but I have to keep in mind the sinus infection really kind of put me down for the count the past few weeks. I'm finally breathing through my nose again (and with my mouth closed), so it looks like it might be clearing up soon. I'm still a bit congested and have no intentions of going for a run until at least Saturday.

However - I'm going to get back in it with gusto. I spent some time perusing some other runner's blogs and found that I'm really starting to get excited about starting my training for the Memphis marathon. I had intended on being a bit more in a running habit before I started it, but I guess since I had no problems with the 10-mile race a few weeks ago that I do still have a decent base.

I need to sit down in the next few days and iron out my training plan and figure out when my longest runs will be and when I want to do some cross training and all sorts of things like that. I know that you may be wondering why I wouldn't just do what I did before the last 3 marathons... well, I have an answer.

Everytime I've trained for one, I've trained differently. For my first one, I just wanted to run and finish, so I trained by following a plan in a book for first time marathoners and running a really slow pace for all runs. My second marathon I decided to follow another plan from another book, but this one added in some speedwork. The third one I followed a plan I found in Runner's World that said quality is better than quantity and ran 3 days a week: a speedworkout, a tempo run and a long run.

So this time, I'm pretty much sticking with what I did last time because I cut 26 minutes off my time with it and figure that's awesome and that i can continue to shave time by running a variety of types of runs 3 days a week. However... I'm making a few changes. First, I'm adding in some things I found from Lance Armstrong's marathon training plan. The dude is a tremendous athlete and I figure it can't hurt to try some of his speed workouts and such. Next, I'm really going to focus more on good core workouts. You can be a stronger runner who doesn't fatigue as quickly when your core is stronger. So I intend to spend some time with my abs DVD I love as well as taking some yoga classes. I intend on hitting the spin classes for a little cross training on non-running days once or twice a week to keep the legs strong without the impact of running. And the biggest change? I'm running 26 miles twice before I go run the marathon.

I know - it's crazy. But I really think that even though I finished the Huntsville marathon 26 minutes faster than my previous one, I could have done even better if I didn't feel so tired the last hour. I think I felt so tired for the last hour because even though I ran a 20-miler, it only took like 3.5 hours to do. I hadn't been on my feet for over that time in my training, so of course when I tried to do it in the race my body was like "WTH?! Stop running... we aren't used to this!"

So, my longest runs this time around will be 26 instead of 20 so that when I go to run the Memphis marathon I will have done it already (twice) in the month and a half before and my body will not be shocked that we're running so long.

It makes sense to me.

So I'm excited... a DC trip is on the horizon as well as a DMB concert... and a new computer... and busting my butt to try to get another marathon PR.

Life is good.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Random Things for Your Wednesday

I know you all love when I post about a bunch of random things, and today is going to be one of those days!

First of all, my little sister turns 21 today. When did she get so old?! When did I get so old?! She's ecstatic to finally be old enough to get into places with the rest of her friends, her boyfriend included. I can't blame her. Nashville has some really fun places downtown that are for the 21 and up crowd. She's not likely to turn into a big drinker, but we're all looking forward to having a little fun celebrating with her.

Next, does anyone else have a crush on this guy?



If you don't know who he is, then you need to: Michael Phelps. U.S. Olympic Swim Team. Trying to break a record (well, I'm sure he's hoping to break many records) for winning the most Gold medals for the U.S. in an Olympics competition. The current record was set when another guy won 7 like 30 something years ago (google it if you want the details... such a google search produced the above picture of this cutie). Michael is hoping to win 8.

Dang.

I totally watched every event he swam back in the 2004 Olympics. I'm a big fan of the summer Olympics anways... I love the swimming, the gymnastics, the track, and of course - the marathon. (My heart goes out to the runners this year... I'd hate to have to deal with the smog of Beijing). I will certainly be spending a lot of time watching the events this year, but you better believe I'll make sure to watch Michael.

Let's discuss. He's 6'4" and 195 lbs of totally toned man. Have you seen the guy before he dives in the water? I don't know WHAT he does to be so totally ripped, but my guess is it's more than just the swimming. And anytime I've ever seen him interviewed, he always seems totally humble and not at all full of himself... even though he's like the best. swimmer. in. the. world.

My boyfriend at the time back during the 04 Olympics didn't get it. I think he was really just annoyed that I was talking so much about a perfect stranger, especially one that was so athletic and cute. But that's kind of the fun about "celebrity crushes." It's not like I'm ever going to meet this man, much less ever have a chance at going on a date with him. Besides, I kept trying to point out to that boyfriend that Michael's 2 years younger than me and I'm not really interested in younger men. Ha. But anyways... the point is that everyone should keep an eye on this guy. He's going to do amazing things in Beijing next month. And look good doing them. :P

On another note, does anyone have any recommendations for my sightseeing plans in DC here in a couple of weeks? I went once when I was younger, but I can't remember much at all other than touring the White House which I'm pretty sure they don't allow now in a post-9/11 world. I'm trying to start doing some research so I can pick a few things to check out. I'll only have 2 days, so does anyone have any suggestions?

I'll try to get some vacation pictures up tonight when I'm home as long as I end up staying in tonight... one never knows when one might decide to go do something instead of having a leisurely evening at home with the cat. (Although I don't have tons of those kinds of evenings, so I certainly enjoy them when they come around.)


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vacation Recap

I'm feeling much better today... thank goodness for strong antibiotics!

I figured you might appreciate a little recap of my 10 day vacation. Keep in mind that 2 of those days were spent in a car, driving to and from Florida. I'll try to get a selection of pictures posted in the next few days when I have time at home, but for now a summary of the trip. This will be a rather long post, but hopefully you'll enjoy. The pictures will make it much more interesting when I can get them up tomorrow or Thursday.

Car rides: We left before dinner to drive down. I read a Nicholas Sparks book called Nights in Rodanthe before we had even gotten all the way through GA. I was fortunately able to sleep for the second half of the drive, but I still happily crawled into bed at the condo when we got there around 7am. On the way home, we left after dinner. I was asleep in 2 hours, mostly because I took some Benadryl since I was feeling so bad. I slept the entire rest of the drive aside from one short bathroom break. It was the shortest 10.5 hour drive ever! (And yes, it should take longer to make the drive, but I think dad was eager to get home). I still crawled into my bed at home for a few more hours when we got in.

Beach: Unfortunately, it was rather cloudy most of the time we were there. Fortunately, it didn't really rain much during the day. So despite the fact that the sun popped in and out most days, I still managed to get a bit sunburned the first day. I swear I put on SPF 30 every 2 hours as directed! It's just that some of my skin hadn't seen the sun in a while. It chilled out after a few days, and I was able to get some decent sun. I'm still really white, but I don't mind. I'd rather not have skin cancer. A lot of my freckles popped out, and I feel like I got a nice hint of color so that I don't look like a ghost the rest of the summer.

I also have a bit of a sun allergy (seriously, I have such sensitive skin it's insane) so I developed a bit of a rash as usual. I think it comes from being in the sun for so many days in a row. In the past I've gotten it on my chest and tummy, so I was thankful to only have it on the top of my hands this year. It cleared up the day after we left so it wasn't so bad.

And I got two huge bug bites on my arm.

But none of this stuff stopped me from enjoying the beach. I sat in the chair and read... a lot. I read June's Self and Runner's World cover to cover. I read John Grisham's The Partner in like 3 days. I enjoyed a piece of chick lit called Queen of Babble and started another called Alphabet Weekends (that I'm determined to finish soon). It was awesome. I love to read, but I stay so busy that I don't sit down and do it as much as I'd like sometimes.

I floated in the ocean on a little intertube and enjoyed the waves. We took walks at sunset and after dinner when it got dark. There was girl talk. There was poking fun at my sister for texting and calling her boyfriend every other minute. There was laughter and fun.

Amusement Parks: I LOVE amusement parks. I could ride roller coasters all day. Even the wooden ones. I just love going up and down and upside down and around corners. I love the nervous feeling as you clink up to the top. I love forgetting all about it on the first drop. We spent one day and one evening over at Busch Gardens. They have several great coasters, but the best one is The Sheikra. You go to the top and around the corner and you start over the curve for the drop... but then it catches and holds as you face straight down for about 3 seconds. And I do mean straight down. The ride starts with a 90 degree drop for 200 feet. It's intense. And we rode it like 5 times. We also got to check out a lot of animals like tigers and monkeys and rhinos and such.

We also spent a day over at the water park. I enjoy a good water slide, and we made sure to ride all of them.

While I'm on the subject, may I just say it's astonishing how people dress to go to amusement parks? I could believe how many gals I saw in high heels and dresses at Busch Gardens. And people, I know it's hot when you're at a theme park in the summer, but it doesn't mean you should lose all sense of modesty when you're getting dressed to go. Seriously. Sorry to be ranting, but I just think it's possible for people of all shapes and sizes to wear things that are flattering. If you don't agree, watch a few Oprah episodes. I'm not an Oprah fan these days, but she always has a good show every other week about how to dress well.

But seriously, love amusement parks. Lord knows I better marry a man that will ride roller coasters with me or else it'll put a serious damper on the day when we go to theme parks. I have full intentions of being the mom that rides them with her kids til she's too old to do so.

Exercise: I had great intentions of getting several runs in on the beach. Alas, my sinus infection kicked in and I only managed to get up and get out there one morning. A friend of mine and my sister's from high school, Ben, lives down there and spent some time with us. He joined me for a 30 minute run one morning. I know we covered about 3 miles, so it was decent. We promptly jumped into the pool fully clothed to cool off. If I could do that after every run, I'd be happy gal. I've felt a bit lazy since the sinus crap has prevented me from breathing and being able to do much, but I realized I walked a LOT on the beach and in the amusement parks, so I don't feel too guilty. Then again, I ate a lot while we were gone.

Food: I ate tilapia and mahi mahi and popcorn shrimp. This is pretty impressive for me as I ususally shy away from all things seafood. I've found that with the right seasonings, I can enjoy fish. I also had ice cream from the bay ice cream shop.. 3 times. And I ate at least 2 pieces of key lime pie. But whatever... it was vacation and part of why I run is so that I don't have to feel bloated when I eat yummy foods. (Seriously... you should see how I consume a Chili's Molten Lava Cake in like 5 minutes flat.)

Friends: Like I said, Ben got to come join us a couple of times. He even brought his Nintendo Wii and Rock Band when he came to spend the night the first time. I went in from the beach early one day so that I could play it some more. I am seriously considering buying the system and the game. Or at least putting it on my Christmas list this year (which is probably sensible since I have plans to buy a Mac next month). Steph came and joined us Monday night through Friday afternoon. It's been so awesome to get to see her so much the past few months. We took walks in our swimsuits and discussed all sorts of things (most of which I will not divulge because girl talk between best friends has to stay between best friends). We enjoyed a bottle of chardonnay. We made margaritas for everyone (except Meredith who is not yet 21 and insists on not drinking until she is... such a stickler for the rules, that one). We laughed. We talked. I left her alone in the mornings so she could study for the bar exam (which was easy to do - I just stayed in bed). it was so great to have her join us and hang out around the condo and on the beach. We even squeezed in a shopping trip and both found some excellent finds at TJ Maxx and Ross!

Being sick while on vacation: Yeah, that part pretty much sucked. But I made the best of it and it certainly didn't keep me from having a blast the whole time. It just kept me coughing up a storm on a regular basis.

4th of July: We opted to not drive to one of the big firework productions this year. We just took our beach chairs down to the beach and watched other people shoot them off. It was a really interesting experience and like nothing I've ever seen before. They were going up everywhere, and a lot of them were actually really impressive! I can't even guess how many thousands of dollars of fireworks we saw go up on the beach that night.

Summary: All in all, it was a really terrific vacation full of fun, family, friends, food and things that will make good memories. We have some terrific pictures. We had good laughs. I got to SLEEP IN EVERY SINGLE DAY! It was fantastic.

I live a life that isn't especially stressful these days (knock on wood), but it was still nice to get away from my normal routine and world for a bit and just relax and lounge around and have some fun.

It certainly was hard to get myself going yesterday morning, but I seem to be settled back into work. I've still got a bit of that vacation mindset going on... it is still summer, after all. So I fully intend to keep having fun and making the most of the extra hours of daylight over the coming weeks. There's still a lot to look forward to with an upcoming weekend in DC and another weekend going to see DMB.

I hope everyone is finding themselves in the middle of a terrific summer. I promise I'm working on my google reader and trying to catch up with all of your lives! :) Thanks for being interested in mine.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm Back!!!

Did you miss me?

Thanks to all of the lovely bloggers who provided a guest post, and thanks to all of you readers who stopped by and gave the guest bloggers some love. I noticed that there were even some new commenters - thanks for stopping by and leaving some thoughts!

I had a great vacation (despite walking around with a sinus infection the whole time, ew) and look forward to sharing a few stories and pictures with you.

For now, I'm still trying to get settled back into my normal life that is a little bit more hectic than the lazy days I spent reading on the beach. Do check back soon for more!

In the meantime, it seems that everyone who isn't already engaged or married has gotten engaged in the past few weeks. First, blogging pal Heidi over at Life in Pink said yes to her man. Then, when I got home from vacation I found out that another blogging friend Rachel over at Are You Willing to Change? was popped the big question by her man over the holiday. I also found out today that my cousin and his girlfriend of several years got engaged over the holiday as well! (He'll make the 3rd one out of the 8 of us "kids" in the extended family to get married. So far we're keeping them spaced out pretty well for everyone, ha!) So congratulations to everyone who has recently decided to spend their life with someone awesome.

I myself am not engaged. But I know no one was expecting me to be what with me not being in a serious relationship right now and all. Ha - but boy wouldn't you have all been surprised if I said I was?!

Anyways, I'm still a little loopy from the anitbiotics the doctor gave me so forgive me for being a bit silly. This is another reason why I'll wait a day or two to update you all on my vacation.

That and my Google reader is out of control since I didn't log in for 10 days, so I'm trying to catch up (there were 244 posts when I looked this morning!)

Be back with more soon!

Friday, July 4, 2008

SURPRISE!

Nope, I'm not back early.

Nope, I'm not posting from the beach.

I realized I didn't have a guest post for today right before leaving town, so I thought I'd surprise you with one.

Happy 4th of July! I'm sure I'll be spending the day hanging out at the beach, returning Steph to the airport so she can head home to Boston, and then watching a great fireworks display somewhere. Yay!

In honor of the holiday, allow me to share a childhood memory. When I was younger, we always did the 4th of July at my pop pop and grannie's house. The whole extended family would go over there to eat Bob's Barbecue (a local favorite) and enjoy sitting outside at tables under the carport.

And there'd be homemade ice cream.

And watermelon cookies. Ok, I know that sounds weird.. they don't taste like watermelon. It's just sugar cookies that look like slices of watermelon that my aunt makes. I LOVE them. ONe of these days I need to remember to get the recipe so I can make them.

We usually had some sparklers to play with and sometimes we'd go downtown to watch the fireworks. Nashville actually has a pretty awesome fireworks show every year. It's totally worth fighting the crowds to go see it.

So I hope that no matter what you find yourself doing today that you enjoy celebrating our day of independence! I'll be back in town and posting again on Monday!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Vacation Guest Post #5

Little known fact about B2G - I run.

Does that surprise you? It's true, I do! Just like Melanie!

For example, I run when I hear the ice cream truck music down the street. I always run to shelter when I'm caught in the rain, and in my dreams I run into the arms of this guy.

What's that? That's not how Melanie runs? You don't know. Maybe that's exactly how she runs.

You do know? She talks about it all the time?

K, fine. You win. Happy?

I used to run. Seriously. And actually, just like Mel does. Kind of.

In 6th grade I was on the cross country team. I ran the mile. And one time, I placed!

Sure, it was 7th place.

Out of 13.

But hey! That's almost the top half. I have a little purple ribbon that says so.

Anyway, I ran the mile. And it was hard. And around the parts of the course where no one was watching? I totally walked.

Because I HATE running.

My best friend from ages 13 to 20 was a runner. A hardcore I'm-going-to-the-Olympics runner. I heard all about the PRs, the competitors, the training, the courses. I went to the meets at her high school, and the yearly State meets with her parents, which were always two hours away. I was dedicated. And it was all fine and dandy, but I NEVER wanted to do it. THE MILE was enough for me back in 6TH GRADE. Forget about 4.6 miles or 9.3k or whatever they run nowadays.

Despite my hated for running, (yes, the elliptical at the gym is my friend...was my friend. Until I left it for TB. This really isn't looking good for me, is it?) I think what Mel does is really, really cool. I'm jealous. I have mad respect. I wish I could bust out a 100k marathon.

It's really that I could never wear underwear for shorts.

Hmm... maybe I would if I looked like her in them.

Love ya, Mel! Have fun on vacation!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vacation Guest Post #4

On Running, Quirky Style

Hello all you Life is A Marathon readers! I'm normally over at Quirky is A Compliment, but Mel here asked me to blog sit for a day while she was off in sunny sunny Florida, so here I am.

Let me start off by saying that if you have come for marathon and/or running advice today, just turn yourself around right now, because the Quirky? She does not run. She does not even jog. Power walking is the best you are going to get, and you'd be really lucky at that. I used to say that the only way you could get me to run was if a crazed psychopath was chasing me, but to be honest, I'm not even sure you'd get running then. I'd be all, "Crazy guy with a chainsaw! Power walk for your lives!"

So the running? Not so much. Honestly, I'm not really sure what Mel here sees in it. I can think of much better ways of spending my time than wheezing and holding the stitch in my side and tripping over my own feet. (Like, maybe getting a root canal. Or losing an arm in a grain auger. But that's just me). Despite all of the non-running however, I do think that good ol' Mel is on to something with the whole Life is A Marathon idea. At the risk of getting all philosophical on ya'll, I think what Mel here is trying to say is that in life, even though it has trials and hardships, even though there are times that we just want to quit, even though the journey is long, we must continue to go the distance, be disciplined in body and spirit, and not give up until we cross the finish line. Pretty heavy stuff if you think about it.

On the other hand, if life was a marathon, Mel'd be the one running, and I'd be the one moonwalking my way to the finish line, cause that's just who we are. The point is that we all get there one way or another, and the important part is that you give it your all.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Vacation Guest Post #3

Melanie Blair likes to run. She not only likes to run, she is a certifiable running badass. Why is this important? Well, going into this that's about all I knew about her, and if I were going to guest blog, I'd probably want to talk about running.

Now I run, just like Melanie, but for me running means one thing: Music.

What I mean is, when I run, especially over long distances, music is necessary. In fact, I can get so into a song that I have literally tripped over a speed bump before. Because of that and because I run a music blog, I thought I'd center my contribution to Melanie's blog around songs that, for me, define a typical weekday "sneak out of the office for 45 minutes" run.

**And if you're my employeer, and you figure out who I am, thanks for understanding.

1. Veni Vidi Vici - Piles vs. The Black Lips
2. Shut The Club Down - Girl Talk
3. Rock Yo Sea Legs - Crime Mob vs. The Shins
4. Drop The Icebox Pressure - Omarion vs. Mylo
5. Deceptataffy - D4L vs. Le Tigre
6. Smash That There - Yung Berg vs. The Smashing Pumpkins
7. This Year A Club Broke My Heart - Usher vs. Los Campesinos
8. Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body) - Three Six Mafia
9. I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T. (Remix) - Webbie vs. Black Moth Super Rainbow
10. No Matter What - T.I.