Thursday, April 30, 2009

DMB Twice in 4 Days

Tuesday was just a normal day at first. I got up, got dressed and went to work.

2pm rolls around. A friend calls.

"I found tickets to the DMB concert in Atlanta tonight. Dead center, like row 20. I just need to find someone to go with me. Interested?"

Folks, the answer to that question is ALWAYS yes. (And I know I'm probably making some of my fellow DMB fans jealous here. Sorry!)

I hauled my butt home, changed, threw some makeup into a bag and met up with Adam to hop in his car to book it to Atlanta. It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive, but we'd be losing an hour due to the time difference.

We were excited. We stopped at a Taco Bell and scarfed down dinner and were back on the road within 15 minutes. We found the ampitheater. We parked. We picked up tickets at will call. And then we found that we were in the most amazing seats that I have ever had at any concert ever.

For this to be my 6th DMB concert, it was shaping up pretty well. Deciding on a whim to go only a few hours before the show started certainly added a certain level of excitement.

They opened this show completely different. There was a big curtain up, and we could tell when the lights went out that the guys were behind it. They did a little tuning and played a few notes. The anticipation was awesome. Finally, they started "Pantala Naga Pampa" and as Dave started to sing the lights came up and the curtain flew out of the way. It. was. amazing.

We were so close. I got tons of awesome pictures and videos (I might try to get some up eventually on here, but if you're my Facebook friend you can definitely see them on there). We danced. We sang along. We enjoyed the new songs again. We heard some songs they didn't do in Nashville. I remained blown away that we had such awesome seats. We laughed when Dave cut up with the audience (he was in a good mood). We enjoyed the jams.

We left pumped up and full of adrenaline. We still stopped on the way home to pick up some candy and energy drinks. Fortunately, we gained an hour going home. I managed to climb into bed at 2:30am, but even when my alarm went off at 7 I didn't mind... it had been SO WORTH it.

Worth spending 7 hours of the day in a car. Worth losing sleep. Worth the 2:30am bed time for the second work night in a row.

Here's the playlist, and a few pictures are included below:

Pantala Naga Pampa --->
Where Are You Going
Stay or Leave
Funny the Way It Is
Why I Am
Burning Down the House
Spaceman --->
Corn Bread
Crash Into Me
Dancing Nancies --->
The Dreaming Tree
Anyone Seen the Bridge --->
Ants Marching
Grey Street
Encore: Sister
Rye Whiskey
All Along the Watchtower

Almost there!

Super excited to be there! Love these guys!

Yes, that is the stage that is so close to us!

Dave and Stefan

Seven amazing musicians

Sweaty Dave

Wow, I had no idea when I woke up that morning that this is where I'd be that night!

I Met Some Famous People

It's not a secret that I like to do some volunteer type stuff when I can.  I find it's really great to give my time to good causes, so when my friend Erin asked me to volunteer with her at the Best Cellars Dinner for the T. J. Martell Foundation I was happy to say yes.

Her company was the sponsor for the event, and we were going to be checking in the celebrities.

Yep, famous people.  Granted, some of them are probably more famous here since there were a lot of country music artists.  I got to see and speak to in some form or fashion the following musicians:  Martina McBride, Jake Owen, Sarah Buxton, Kenny from Big & Rich, two of the people from Little Big Town (I'm not familiar enough to know their names), Kelli Pickler, Amy Grant, Heidi Newfield, Michelle Branch, Jamey Johnson and I might be forgetting someone but I think that's it. 

It was pretty neat to be seeing people who are pretty well known.  Everyone was pretty friendly, especially Heidi Newfield.  If you're not sure who that is, she's the gal who sings "Johnny and June."  She wanted to shake all of our hands and get our names.  Super nice.

I did get a little star struck when William Baldwin walked in.  Yep, brother of Alec Baldwin. Seriously,  I soooo wanted to get a picture of him, but when you're a volunteer that's hardly appropriate at a fancy affair.  Still, I couldn't help but stare.  He walked past our table once and nodded and said, "Ladies" and you would have thought he kissed us all.  When he came back out he stopped to chat about his table number for a second.  I was disappointed he wasn't at the after party because I so would have chatted him up about how much I loved Dirty Sexy Money and asked for a picture.

The after party ended up being pretty fun.  It was at a really nice home out in Belle Meade, and the guy had a crazy huge wine cellar.  I'm pretty sure that Erin and I were the only ones who weren't really drinking, but we were also the only ones who had to drive home (everyone else had a car or limo with driver).  

There were a lot of people from her company there in addition to Michelle Branch, Sarah Buxton, Big Kenny, and Heidi Newfield.  I know this might sound odd, but I felt like we totally fit in.  I think that's the thing about famous people in Nashville... we don't have paparazzi. They're spotted everywhere doing normal things, and people are generally pretty respectful and leave them alone.  It felt like we were just all a big group of people hanging out.

We sat and talked to Heidi's husband for a long time.  He manages football players, and he was so super nice.  Later we got to chat some with Heidi.  I think she's totally sweet and a lot of fun. We also chatted a bit with Kenny, and we snapped some photos with each.  I know it's not like we were with super famous people, but it's seriously the first time I've ever had a picture taken with someone more famous than myself, haha.

It was such a blast to volunteer at the benefit and then to be allowed into the after party.  I have no idea if I'll ever get to do something so cool ever again, but for now I'm going to chalk this one up to the fact that I live in a pretty cool city with pretty cool people.

Erin and I striking a pose

I know it's blurry, but that's the back of Jay from Rascal Flatts

Enjoying a little champagne

One row in an amazing wine cellar at the home where the after party took place

Erin and I with Heidi Newfield

Kenny from Big & Rich

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weekend Pictures as Promised

Elite women

Elite Men

Guy with a "monkey on his back"

Ready to see Dave Matthews Band!

Jason Mraz opened

CMM and DMB Weekend in Nashville

I have good reasons for my absence. I've been busy turning lemons into lemonade.

I have really had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life. A few of you emailed and asked about what was going on a short while ago when I shared that I was having a bad week. Since then, several other things have happened to contribute to my life feeling completely turned upside down. In time, I'll probably share a few things.. but for now please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I'm definitely an optimist and am finding joy in my life, but there are some big changes going on in my world. And I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

I do have a lot of fun things to tell you about, but I'm going to have to divide it up in several posts. Let me tell you today about my fun weekend at the Country Music Marathon and the Dave Matthews Band concert.

Friday evening I met up with a friend who was in town for the race to do a little carb-loading. Granted, I had no intentions of burning any calories over the weekend so this may not have been wise for me... but the food at Mama Mia's in Nashville? Amazing.

Saturday morning, my pal Brett and I met up with a few other friends to cheer on all the runners. We stood out there for a little over 2 hours! I had never gone to the race as a spectator, so it was a fun experience for me. I managed to spot a few of my friends, but I definitely missed most of the people I knew running. 35,000 people is a pretty big crowd! I have been checking out the results of those of you who ran, and I think everyone did amazing! For those of you who don't know, it reached 87° here in Nashville on Saturday. It was a HOT day for a half or full marathon. Everyone did amazing!

I have mixed feelings about the Nashville race. It's of course my home and so I am thrilled we have such a big event, but I think that Elite Racing is getting a little full of themselves. I really think they do an AMAZING job at organizing everything. I heard that they were very well prepared for the heat with plenty of fluids, ice and spray stations readily available. But the price of the race has increased more than I think is necessary. I know it's expensive to do a race, but I don't think the price should keep going up every year. I'm not going to pay $100+ to run a half-marathon. I think the lowest it was in the early months was maybe $60ish? I still think even that is pricey. I just think that in the end, I prefer running races where I know the leftover money is going to a charity and not to some company as a profit. I know, it's a business and all... I'm just saying that by my own choice, I'd rather run races that aren't just trying to make a profit.

Saturday night, I met up with friends to have some yummy pizza at Mellow Mushroom (seriously, I ate so much and didn't run at all this weekend) before going to Vanderbilt stadium for the Dave Matthews Band concert.

I have some great pictures and videos that I'm going to post in a separate post for your viewing pleasure when I get home later. For my fellow DMB fans, here's the set list:

Bartender (I had totally guessed they would open with this!)
Grey Street
The Last Stop (tease) --->
Seek Up
Burning Down the House (cover)
Why I Am (new tune)
Anyone Seen the Bridge --->
Too Much (tease) --->
Ants Marching
You Might Die Trying
Crash Into Me
Spaceman (new tune) --->
Corn Bread
Funny the Way It Is (new tune)
Jimi Thing
Two Step
Encore: Blue Water Baboon Farm
All Along the Watchtower

On "Crash Into Me," he did the added lines of "I'll be your dixie chicken if you'll be my Tennessee lamb/ We'll walk together, down in dixie land." We always love that here in TN. :)

He danced. He did some skat. Dave was definitely in a goofy mood. I loved every minute.

This was my fifth DMB show, and I can never say if I think a certain one is the best one I've seen. They are all full of good memories. I've shared each one with someone different over the years, this year it being my friend Paige. But it was definitely a pretty awesome show.

Sunday I took it easy, having coffee with a friend and then going to the ceremony to make my sister an official alum of ADPi. Good times.

Come back later for pics from the concert. Tomorrow I'll write and share pictures of what I did on Monday that led to me meeting some pretty famous people and staying out until 2:30am on a work night.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Musical Weekend

Thank you all for your sweet comments and birthday wishes for Tucker!  He's certainly important to me, and it's always nice when others think he's as cute as I do. :)

Tomorrow is the big Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon here in Nashville.  I've run the full twice and the half once, but this year I'll be going to the race as a cheerleader/spectator!

I was once kind of sad I wasn't going to be in shape to run the half this year, but I'm actually pretty ok with it now.  Today?  It's sunny and 87 degrees.  Tomorrow?  Pretty much the same story.  It'll be around 70 at the 7am start and quickly up to at least 80 long before the normal people start finishing either race.

I am not jealous.  When I last ran the full in 2007, it got up to 76 degrees by the time I was about halfway.  It never really got hotter, but it was already too hot.  I hate training for 4 months in the cold and then end up running slower because it's a hot race day.  I'm adamant about only running the half in the future and focusing on marathons that are less likely to end up being so hot. (I realize it was all hot in Chicago 2 years ago, but that's very unusual.  A summer day in April in TN? Not all that unusual.)

Anyways, it'll be fun to see all the runners and will be just the inspiration that I need now that I'm finally able to start working on increasing my mileage.

Tomorrow night?  I'm going to see Dave Matthews Band with Jason Mraz and Robert earl Keen.  Heck.  Yes.  

Look forward to a fun post about the weekend with pictures!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Tucker

Today my little boy is three!

I picked out Tucker from a litter of kittens that were born just down the road from my parent's house three years ago.  He came home with me in early June, and it has been love ever since. Seriously, I know that Rizzo in Grease said that the only man a girl can count on is her daddy, but I have to add my little man Tucker to the list.

He's gotten so much bigger than when I first brought him home, and we've certainly had some fun along the way!

I can't believe I'm posting this on the internet since I am so in pj's and have on no makeup, but this is how small he was when I first got him.  This is also where he liked to sleep!  Now he prefers my lap or to be curled up by my legs.

All tuckered out.... (he got his name because he would play so hard and then just collapse with exhaustion!)

When I first got Tucker, he got to spend some time with Chelsie, the Himalayan I grew up with.  She passed away at age 15, about a year after I got Tucker.  He always liked being with her.

Tucker is one heck of a jumper!

Tucker also likes to watch tv.  Points to anyone who can identify what tv show I'm watching here. :)  It's one of my favorites, and I have it all on DVD.

He still plays hard and tuckers out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blast from the Past

I've always claimed to have a really good memory. I still think I do.

I can tell you what I was wearing at numerous occasions from my past. First date with this one guy at age 16? Jeans, purple and green striped shirt, and a grey hooded jacket.

I remember phone numbers of people I haven't called since fifth grade.

I know the birthdays of people I haven't seen since elementary school.

I can repeat all sorts of details that people share with me about their lives, sometimes months after the fact.

But I definitely know one thing... if I remember something specific, it's because it was significant to me... or the person was significant to me.

The things I don't remember? It doesn't mean they didn't mean something to me at the time, but it didn't go to that part of my brain that says, "remember this, because this moment will always be special to you, or because you really care about this person, etc."

I've been scrapbooking my spring break trip from 2004. I went on a service trip to NYC to volunteer at a school in the Bronx. I remember a lot of things about that trip including the days at the school, the evenings with the rest of the group and some of the fun things that we did. I learned a lot on that trip, and there were certainly some significant things that I have never forgotten.

Unfortunately, I hadn't bought a digital camera before I went so my pictures aren't as good as I wish they were. However, I still want to include it. I searched my bookshelf last night and found the notebook where I had written about each day of the trip before I went to bed each night. I realized how thankful I am that I do stuff like that.

As I read through it, all sorts of memories that I didn't know I had came flooding back. There were even a few things that I just couldn't remember, but I have to assume they happened since I wrote it down. Like when I wrote that we all decided to talk in a funny voice to each other when we were roaming around the streets of NYC at night. I wish I could remember what kind of funny voice it was...

I also wrote about how when the kids in my class were in gym one day, the teacher I was helping talked to me about how she probably wouldn't come back to the school the next year. It was too taxing on her to deal with these kids. We walked across the street to get a snack and she refsued to let me buy my own, even though more than likely as a college kid I had more spare change than she did on her teacher's salary. I wrote about how she seemed so kind, and how she was doing the best she could to teach her fifth graders.

Most of the kids in that class would probably not actually pass the fifth grade, but they'd likely still move on to the sixth grade. I had written about how one of the kids asked me to help him with math and told me that he really wanted to learn. I had written about how tons of them told me they wanted to go to college like me someday.

I wonder where that teacher is now. I wonder if all those kids are in high school now like they should be.

It's a good example of why I keep a journal, but especially on trips. I think when you travel for any reason, there's too much to absorb into your memory. It was nice to be able to pull out my journal and remember what all happened that week as I start scrapbooking it.

No comments about how I'm 5 years behind on my scrapbooking. I swear if I can ever finish these last 3 semesters of college, I'd probably catch up quickly. I can't believe I've been out of college for 4 years now! But I probably have way less pictures from those 4 years than I had from the 4 years of school. What a joy it'd be to have albums of my past and then be able to stay on top of scrapbooking things as they happen!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On Recent Entertainment

I've been staying up a little later than usual (which isn't helpful when I have to get up early and go to work, but hey - I'm young and can pull it off) and have become reacquainted with late night tv for the first time in quite a while.

I always liked Jimmy Fallon on SNL and haven't really watched the show much since around the time he left, but I had yet to see his late night show until Friday. I tuned in to see his interview with Matthew Perry (I'm a Friends fanatic, and old habits die hard).

Before getting to the interviews, he shared a video that basically showed someone playing the video of that Susan Boyle gal singing her song on the Britain's Got Talent auditions. People kept coming in the room all upset over something, but when they heard her singing they smiled, sat down and enjoyed.

My favorite part? Ben from LOST comes into the doorway saying, "We have to go back to the island!" But when no one paid him any attention, he left. As a LOST viewer, I just found this terrifically funny. Or maybe I was just tired and everything seemed funny.

Either way.

I've watched several movies in the past few days. On Saturday, I will totally admit I went with my sister and saw 17 Again. I actually really enjoyed it. And hey, who can't enjoy a little Zac Efron eye candy from time to time?

On Sunday it was rainy and cold, so I rent Bolt (the cartoon about a dog) and Transiberian (about a couple on a train ride who get mixed up with a drug thing). I seriously recommend them both.

It's funny... I go through phases. Sometimes I am reading and going through books like water for my entertainment. Then sometimes I'll get on these kicks where I just want to watch a bunch of movies. I suppose it's a bit related to however I'm feeling, but still...

I think I might be on a movie kick right now... and apparently late night tv.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Why I've Been MIA

I have had a really shitty week, and you know we don't use many curse words here in Melanie-land, so that's saying something. It's a big part of why I haven't posted much the past few days. I've been told numerous times by the people who know me best that I'm definitely the Charlotte of the group when it comes to determining which Sex and the City characters we all are... I suppose I'm thinking of that, too, because I've been watching season one. Anyways, I am usually the eternal optimist... and I probably always will be...

But right now, I'm not. If I were anonymous, I'd probably share a few details, but since I'm not it seems hardly appropriate to even try to explain. But I wanted to say something only because 1. if you want to toss up a prayer or happy thought for me, that'd be great and 2. it might be a few days before I feel like posting much again.

I don't like to throw pity parties around here and am usually one who prefers to wallow in crappy things mostly alone, but I keep this blog as a way of sharing my life and making connections with other people who might be going through the same things in their lives as I am in mine. So it didn't seem right to ignore that I'm in a generally bad mood right now.

Thanks for reading and thanks for caring.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

DMB New Single

This will come as no surprise to my regular readers who have been with me a while... but I'm a huge Dave Matthews Band fan. I'm not quite the fan who has seen over 30 shows and travels the country to follow him over summers (though I have met those people).  But I do know a good deal about the band in general, and I certainly get excited over new music.

With their next album coming up in June, they've gone on and released a single this week.  You can download it for free here until Tuesday.  Check it out!  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I'm looking forward to seeing them next week, and I'm definitely looking forward to buying the album on June 2.  I have no doubt that Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King will be a fine addition to my extensive DMB collection.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Bit on Faith and My Weekend

These pictures aren't really the best quality since I was in the car, but here's a small glimpse of some of the damage that occurred in the business parts of town in Friday's tornados.  You can find a gob of pictures and info at The DNJ or on YouTube (just search "Murfreesboro tornado").  Some of the videos are insane... the tornados were huge, and you can see cars trying to outrun it, debris flying and things exploding in its path.

First, let me say thanks to all of you who left comments and sent emails to check on me and to say how glad you are that I'm safe.  It means a lot internet friends!

As I watched some of the news over the weekend (something I never do because I hate the media in general), I was amazed at some of the stories.  There were NUMEROUS accounts of people saying, "Well, we hid in the bathroom/the closet/the hallway/etc. and once it was over, that was the only room in the house still standing."

Another story involved a man who had been running on our local greenway. The storm blew up and he didn't have time to get back to his car.  Knowing something was wrong, he moved down lower toward a creek bed.  He turned and saw the tornado so he did the only thing he could do - he held on to a tree for dear life.  The tornado swept over him, and once it had passed the only thing still intact was the tree he was holding.  He was a little banged up and had a concussion, but otherwise he was totally fine.

As I kept watching the news interviews of the people who had lost homes, I noticed that all of them were saying the same sort of thing: "Yes, we lost our house and it's awful, but we're all ok.. we're all safe and alive... we thank God that we're alive."  It got me wondering.  I have grown up here in the Bible Belt, so I don't think twice about people thanking God for their lives.  I wondered if it's the same way in other parts of the country.

Furthermore, it got me thinking about how hard it is for me to understand how people can deny a higher power's existence.  How can a tornado blow through our town destroying homes and businesses and affecting over 515 structures (the count as of today) and there ONLY be 2 deaths?  I know some people would argue the side of "How can God allow something so horrible happen and how can he let the two people who died be killed?"  But I suppose the eternal optimist in me looks at it like those people who kept saying in their interviews that they can rebuild so they're just thankful to be alive.

I suppose one of the hardest questions out there is the one about how can a good God allow this to happen?  I think that for me my answer comes from the concept of how God never promises to protect us from natural disasters.  If I'm wrong and it's in the Bible somewhere, then please show me where to look.  Natural disasters are just part of this volatile planet that we live on.  Yes, it's horrible that these tornados came through town... but it's part of the nature of the earth.

I do not for a second think that God was hanging out on Friday and said, "I think I'll send a tornado to TN."  I do believe that he protected so many people and kept them from harm.  Tons of people were home on Friday because so many schools and businesses were closed for Good Friday.  A TON of people survived.  Not only that, but quite a few businesses that were destroyed were closed for the day - so the employees weren't there.

I'm not attempting to have the answers here because when it comes down to it, I don't know the all the answers.  But I do know that I believe in a God that is good and that loves us.  He uses everything for good, and I believe I am already seeing that first hand.

Numerous volunteers were all over the place within hours of the tornado, and they kept working through the night.  Food was provided to victims and to volunteers.  Over 3 million tons of debris has already been hauled away in the past 3 days.  People are pitching in and doing what they can to help get the city cleaned up ASAP.  People are making donations (you can, too, if you'd like... simply visit The Red Cross.)  People are getting out and meeting their neighbors and helping them recover from this terrible disaster.

For me, that's a big part of what my faith and my Christianity is all about.  Christians don't have all the answers.  We're not perfect and we're all hypocrites in some way.  By human nature, we all fail and screw up and make big mistakes.  But I know that in the end, I'm trying to live my life the best I can.  I like to think that my heart is good.  And it makes me smile to see people reaching out to one another and helping each other out in times of need.  I believe that's the heart of Christianity... there is a reason why the Greatest Commandment is to love God and love others.  Both are equally important, and when you love others you are loving God.

This is all just my belief... I know some readers may not agree and that's fine.  Like I said, I don't have all the answers... so I'm not looking to start a religious debate.  But after witnessing the events that happened here in TN, I feel even more convinced than ever that there is a God, He is watching out for us, and that we make Him smile when we show some love to our fellow human beings.

As for my weekend, I took in a couple of movies - Adventureland (go see it!  This is one of my favorite movies I've seen lately and I like Kristin Stewart in it soooo much better than in Twilight) and I Love You Man (also good and quite funny).  

I ran 4 miles Saturday morning... I took it a bit slower and kept about a 10:45 pace.  This was for several reasons. First, last week was the first week I was running 3 days, so I wanted to scale back a bit to make up for adding a day of running until my body gets adjusted.  Second, I really needed to go to the bathroom after about the first half mile. Not fun.  Third, I was running with a friend and wanted to chat, and I haven't gotten in good enough shape yet to run a faster pace and talk.

After a good run (seriously, I'm going to do 5 next week since this went so well!), I ate some yogurt and then hit up an hour strength training class at the gym.  I love going to the classes because I work so much harder than if I were doing it alone.  I definitely got a good all over body workout, and I know that I need to stay on top of doing that for a while as I build my strength back up.  After the class, I rewarded myself with a chicken biscuit and coffee from Chick-fil-A (those of you who have told me you don't have those, I'm sorry!  If you ever come south, make sure you eat at one!)

Yesterday after checking out some of the tornado damage, I went to the MTSU baseball game. It was a pretty good game and they won!  I also got another sunburn (seriously, I need to remember it's time to start breaking out my sunscreen).  My arms and legs got kind of pink, but it's the top of my feet that are bothering me.  I didn't even think about the fact that my feet haven't seen the light of day in months.  Oh well.  I'll have a nice flip flop tan line now, and now that they've burned they'll be able to handle the sun just fine in the coming months.  (See?  I really am the eternal optimist.  I always seem to look on the bright side.)

Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!  Thanks for letting me chat some about my faith.  I don't bring it up often, mostly because I'm uninterested in internet debates about it. :)  

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tornados in Tennessee

Multiple tornados touched down in several places throughout middle TN yesterday, but the worst hit Murfreesboro.  For those of you who are new to my blog or don't recall, I lived in the Boro for 4 years while I attended college.  My sister lives there now, and many of my friends still live up there.  I go to town quite often.

I believe there were 4 or 5 different places in town that tornados touched down.  Over 100 homes were reported to have damage last night.  Lots of businesses were also affected.

A mother and her 3-month-old died.  Over 35 people went to the hospital, a handful or so in critical condition.

And this is just what I heard last night.  Things could have changed overnight.

This is the worst that the area has seen in quite some time.  Go to this photo gallery to see some of the photos and if the link doesn't work, then you can get to the gallery on  Just the second picture of the overturned tractor trailer alone shows how strong the storm was...

It's crazy to see tons of pictures that my friends are posting on Facebook of damage that happened just down the road from them.

Fortunately, no one that I know was hurt or suffered any loss.  I'm thankful for that, but it's still so sad to see a community that I know and love suffering because of the storms.

People here are good people.  Everyone will chip in to clean up and rebuild.  Everyone is thankful to have their lives, knowing that the can replace their homes.  Everyone is sad about the deaths that did occur.

Keep our community in your thoughts and prayers.  I'll be going to the Boro tomorrow for a baseball game so I'll be seeing the damage with my own eyes.  

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back on the Bandwagon

After taking last week off from running to give my sore hip a break, I got back on the bandwagon this week... and I think it's going well.

On Tuesday I did a quick little 2-miler. I didn't have a lot of time, and I also figured it'd be wise to do a super short run since it was my first run in 9 days. I definitely could tell I had taken some time off, but it went well. I went home and stretched a bit. I felt a little soreness in my hip, but it was hardly noticeable.

Wednesday, I did a little cycling and rode 10 miles in 30 minutes. I bounced back and forth between higher levels and lower levels (on the stationary at the gym), so I felt like my legs got a good non-running workout. I did some more stretching at home and used my foam roller on my legs. All felt well.

Yesterday we had gorgeous weather again... 65° and sunny! I headed to the park for a 3-mile run. I forced myself to take it really easy because this is the first week since returning to running that I'm finally increasing to 3 runs a week. Since I'm adding an extra day and a bit to the weekly mileage, I don't want the pace to be too intense. I ran it in about 29:20, so I was pleased with myself for slowing down and keeping it laid back. I did a bit of stretching and while I feel a little ache in my hip, it's definitely not very noticeable. I think the biggest part of it has to just be that my leg still hasn't gotten all of its strength back.

Tomorrow I'm going to do an easy 4-miler. I have done the distance once and feel like I should do it again before I increase to 5 miles. This time, I'm not going to let myself push it so much. I have no reason to be trying to maintain a faster pace until I can get my body used to the miles again. At this point, I think it's really important for me to increase my endurance more before I start to think about getting faster again. I still have plenty of time to do both before my race in June. I was looking at the calendar yesterday and saw that there's no reason why I won't be in good shape for 10 miles by then... it just may not be my fastest 10 miler.

But that's ok... running the Chicago marathon is my big goal for the year. That's where I want to be faster. I want a marathon PR if at all possible.

I've been reading a lot of the coverage on the Boston marathon and specifically about Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher. I've been a fan of Ryan for a while now, but I realized in reading one of his recent interviews that part of it is because we do have something in common... he's known for not racing a ton. He picks a race, and that's his focus. I kind of do the same thing. I'm not out racing every week or even every month. I have a few races of shorter distances I like to do each year, and then I like to focus on one that is important to me... this year is Chicago.

I think it's a good way to go... for me anyways.

I feel like I'm starting to find a groove. It's still going to be a challenge as my leg gets stronger again and I begin to get my endurance back, but I feel like it's going to for sure be worth it when I finally get to toe that start line and cross that finish line.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Anyone Know the Answer?

I have a question that I think will be best answered by other blogger users (as opposed to those of you on wordpress, etc.).

How do you set up your account so that when you comment on a blog and that person goes to respond to you via email, that your actual email comes up and not the thing?? Anyone know?

Some of you who use blogger and comment on mine must know, because when I go to reply to your comments when they come into my email I'm able to email you back. Some of you have the same noreply-comment thing.

So who knows how to edit it so that it shares your email? I want for you all to be able to respond to me by email if you'd like when I leave comments on your blogs.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm a Country Girl at Heart

Saturday I got a sunburn.  Sunday we had thunderstorms and tornado watches.  Today?  Chance of snow.  It's pretty ridiculous.

This post might get a little lengthy, but for those of you who don't live in TN (or even the south) it just might be something you find interesting.  Let me give you a little glimpse into life in the south.

First of all, you should know that this current cold snap is "dogwood winter."  As I've gotten older, I've realized that when I say stuff like that more and more people don't have a clue what I'm talking about.  Every spring, we have four cold snaps that each happen before something blooms.  Each one is called a "winter."  The redbuds have already bloomed after our last little cold snap.  After this one, the dogwoods will bloom... thus why we're in "dogwood winter."  Next will be the locust winter and then finally the blackberry winter.  This is something that I believe that farmers figured out a long time ago.  I think it's kind of neat.

Saturday, I did a true country thing.  I live pretty close to Nashville, and while it's not a big city in the way that places like Chicago and NYC are big cities, the area is still dramatically more "city" than the rest of the state.  Outside of Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee is mostly all rural communities.  This time of year always brings various festivals in some of the communities, and this weekend I went with a friend of mine to Mule Day in Columbia.

Yes, I said Mule Day.  The website will tell you more than you probably care to know.  

A side note - when I was in college, I took a trip one spring break to NYC to do some volunteer work at an elementary school in the Bronx.  On my first day, I was explaining to my fourth graders that I was from TN.  The conversation with one of them went as follows:

Kid: "Tennessee?? Do you have a horse?!"  her eyes were huge when she asked.
Me: "No."
Kid: "Do your friends have horses?!"
Me: "No."
Kid: "Do you know anyone that has a horse?"
Me: "Yes."
Kid: "Have you ridden a horse?!"
Me: "Yes, once or twice."
Kid: "WOW!!!!"

I got a kick out of how these kids thought that I MUST have a horse since I was from TN.

Anyways, there are a lot of horses in our fine state... and mules.  And Mule Day is a big celebration of it.

After getting up at 5:30am and stopping at Starbucks before the hour drive to Columbia, I met up with some fellow Nashville Striders to volunteer at the Mule Day 5K.  It's super fun to work at a race, so I encourage you to all check it out sometime when you're not running a local race.  Volunteers are super important as we all know from running races, and it's really kind of fun to experience being on the other side.

Next, we hit up the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.  I had three pancakes, not caring that I didn't run them off beforehand.  Around 11, there is a parade.  It was seriously the longest parade that I have ever stood and watched.  Most of the pictures below are from the parade.  Captions highlight the best parts.

Then, we walked to the festival area (which ended up being further away than we thought... as in, we walked a 5K to get there and then walked another 5K later to get back to the car.  I guess I burned off those pancakes after all!).  We explored some of the booths and such, and then we settled down in the arena to watch the Mule Pull.  It's pretty much how it sounds... the mules pull a bunch of weight to see who can pull the most.  Mules are strong!

We didn't get home until around 6pm, so I had a quick dinner with my mom and showered before crashing early.  I think the sun really zaps energy, and since my face and arms were bright red it was clear I'd gotten plenty.

Sunday I slept in before running some errands and going to a friend's house for a purse party.  I bought the cutest bag and am having my name monogrammed on it!  

Then, I spent the evening watching the Academy of Country Music Awards.  Seriously, I meant it about being a country girl.  I don't really let on about being one very much, and I don't really act the part very often... but deep down, I was born and raised in TN so all things country have a special place in my heart.

I once saw Reba McIntire at the Green Hills Mall.  I've also seen the guys of Rascal Flatts eating dinner at our Logan's.  I met Trace Adkins at MTSU when I was working freshman orientation and he came with his daughter.  People spot Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman around town all the time.  I think our local famous people loving living here because people tend to respect them and not follow them around, etc.  We don't have a lot of paparazzi hanging around Nashville.  It's really cool to see some of these people out and about, but we gawk from afar and respect their space.

I always enjoy watching these awards shows because they're one big concert.  I'm a big Carrie Underwood fan, so I was excited she won Entertainer of the Year.  I also like Brad Paisley (who also lives in Nashville) and thought he acceptance speech about how he stayed home because his wife (Kimberly Williams) was about to have their second baby any day now was really super sweet.

In the end, I really am a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll... but this weekend?  I was truly a country girl.

This state trooper laid his bike down... you could tell people wanted to laugh but didn't.  His fellow trooper totally drove back and made fun of him.

We guessed that this must be the town drunks... ? Haha.

Former UT Vols football coach Phil Fulmer was the Grand Marshal... people sang Rocky Top.  Look that up if you've never heard it - it's catchy.

Ok, so Tennessee is pretty much a republican state.  The only counties that went to Obama were the ones around Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville (the non-rural areas if you're keeping up.)  Needless to say, when this float went by the crowd got unbelievably quiet compared to how they were when everything else went by.  Either everyone was a republican, or the few democrats in the crowd were too afraid to give a cheer.  I almost felt bad for these people with the float.  

Tiny trotters!

This was amazing!  I had never actually seen a sheep dog rounding up sheep!  He'd have them going one way, then he'd have them stop, and then they'd go another way.  Seriously cool to see.


Even the dogs have a little country in them...

The Sun Drop bottling company is close by... if you've never had one, you should try it.  It's kind of similar to Mellow Yellow.

At the mule pull... and yes, those guys in the background are wearing jail outfits.  (Is there a word for that? I have no idea.)  They bring inmates from the county jail to do a lot of work around the festival all weekend.  These guys were adding the blocks of weight when needed.

The day wouldn't have been complete without a picture with a mule before heading home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tornados in Tennessee

I know I talk about how crazy the weather is here in middle TN. I really do have more interesting things to talk about than weather, but I really just find it fascinating how much our weather changes from day-to-day.

Yesterday? We had severe storms and tornados. Both come with the territory around here this time of year, and I've never really found myself to be bothered by it. Of course, it would be terrible if a tornado hit near me. And one of the scariest moments of my life was when lightning struck a neighbor's tree. That sound and the flash of light? Seriously scary.

It rained a lot. The wind was up. A tornado or two struck down. The thunder was loud and the lightning was bright. Even Tucker was more skiddish than he usually is during a storm, leading me to think he sensed that this one was bigger than usual. In the end, there was some damage in parts of the state, but there wasn't anything serious.

The thing that cracks me up the most is the meteorologists. On one channel, they are so calm and collected that I'd imagine that even if things did get really bad you'd never really grasp it because of their demeanor. Another channel wants you to think that it's freaking Armageddon. Honestly, that's the channel I like to watch. If all of the channels are going to be overtaken by the weather people (honestly, I'd rather keep watching Ellen and have the warnings scroll across the screen, but that's just me), then I'd just assume watch the one that's the most entertaining.

Don't get me wrong.. sometimes the weather is really bad and dangerous. But sometimes I think the meteorologists are just SO overdramatic.

Today the weather is calm.. cloudy and 64° with a chance of sunshine. Tomorrow? It's supposed to be 74° and gorgeous. Tuesday? They're calling for snow. I am SO not kidding.

In other news, I haven't run this week and I don't know if I'm going to. My hip is feeling a lot better, but I feel like it might be best to wait and start running again next week after a solid week off. I did do some strength training one day and hit up yoga last night (heavy rain and thunder won't keep me from getting out). I'm planning to do some cross training this afternoon. So it hasn't been the most productive week in terms of fitness, but I think that if my hip has recovered well then I should be able to start running a bit again next week. I'm going to keep taking it easy since my next race is 3 months away... but I'm definitely feeling positive and know that being up to 4 miles right now is really good, all things considered.

I have some fun things going on this week that I think might make for some interesting posts next week. Good luck to everyone with their races and training runs this weekend!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Giveaway and a Rant

One of my favorite bloggers, The Chic Runner, is holding a giveaway! I love a good giveaway, but this one is pretty awesome. She's got a $100 gift certificate for Online Shoes. Goodness gracious! Talk about a sweet giveaway. Go check it out here!

Now for a little rant. Today I decided that I'd hit up Chick-fil-A a little before 10:30 and get breakfast for my lunch. It's always nice to do something a little different, and I was excited to try the chicken, egg and cheese on a multi-grain bagel because it looks so good in the picture. (And yes, it ended up being totally delicious.)

I sat in the drive-thru behind a car where the person in it was smoking. I could smell the cigarette smoke so I decided to roll my window up. As is usually the case when you're behind a driver smoking our his or her window, I could still smell it coming through my air vents. I may be really sensitive to cigarette smoke or something, but it was terrible to have to sit there and smell it and not be able to get away.

It got me thinking about how I really can't wait until more things are smoke-free. Now before you holler at me, I know we can't tell people they can't smoke in their cars. However, i'm really looking forward to when smoking around public places is ruled out. We passed the law banning smoking in restaurants back in 2007, and it was seriously one of the smartest things I've seen Tennessee do. I know that if major cities like NYC can go smoke-free practically everywhere that it's probably a matter of time before places follow suit.

I want that to happen. I don't want people to smoke in bars. I don't want people to smoke in front of public buildings... because let me tell you. Having to walk through a cloud of smoke to get into the restaurant is just as annoying as smoke inside. I know that people would say that I'm being a little extreme and that people have always smoked in bars, etc. My thought is that smoking is more of a privilege than it is a right, and non-smokes have the right to not have to breathe secondhand smoke (which numerous studies have found harmful).

Sure, I could opt to not go to places where smoking is allowed, and most of the time I don't. I'm just saying that I'll be glad when I see more places not allow smoking in or around the area. I mean, come on people. Smoking is not cool. I'm not here to judge... if you want to kill yourself over it, that's none of my business.

Before anyone decides to pick a fight, you should probably know that my dad smokes. He'll likely die from it, just like his dad who died from lung cancer. He knows that our family hates that he smokes, and we regularly voice our issues with it. He doesn't smoke around us ever, but we still know he does it and we hate it. I love my dad, but I have no problem calling him and every other smoker out on this terrible habit. And remember, I'm a marathon runner. Smoking isn't exactly something I'll ever be ok with...

I would never date a smoker. I don't have friends who smoke, and if I did I'd insist they not do it around me.

Feel free to agree or disagree, but I'd love to see smoking itself die a quick death. Everyone's health would be better for it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Running Odds and Ends

I received a fun treat in the mail today. A while back, I won one of the Runner's Lounge giveaways. I feel like I'm one of those people who never seems to win anything, so I was pretty excited!

The prize? A handful of running greeting cards from Far Gone Greetings. They offer cards for a variety of sports, and I loved how spot on the running ones were with the running humor. I was looking at a lot of the other designs today, and I definitely think they're a fun kind of card to have to send to your fellow runner. I mean, who doesn't like getting a real card in the mail?

They're really great quality as well. The only downside is that at $2.95 a card, they seem a little pricey. Of course, this is from the girl who scours bargain bins for cards and such. I suppose you're paying for the fact that they're catered to our sport. They do offer free shipping if you buy more than 4 so that's good.

Has anyone pulled off any good April Fool's Day jokes? I'm not much of a practical joker, so I haven't attempted any myself. I've also chosen to not believe half the things that have popped up on Facebook today.

I'm still taking it easy and not going to run for another day or two as this ache in my hip flexor subsides. It's already gotten better, and my plan today is to hit the gym for some strength training and as well as some hip flexor exercises.

It's a shame because it's absolutely gorgeous outside today, and they're calling for more storms tomorrow. Oh well. I'll run again soon.