Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Post of 2009

Well guys and gals... this is it. The end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. The beginning of a new decade!

I'm pretty excited. 2009 has been a good year, but it's certainly had it's share of ups and downs.

I started the year on crutches, going through a small breakup, and kind of unhappy about things. I felt really lost not being able to run or work out. I was so relieved and my mood instantly improved in February when I started running again.

There have been a few guys. Dating has certainly not gotten any less complicated, but I've learned some good lessons and had some fun with some different guys.

I got to start racing again in June, and I managed to get a PR in several distances between June and today: the 5K, the 5 mile, the 10K, the 10 mile and the MARATHON (by 20 minutes no less!) Running definitely went well for me, and I think I proved that you can come back from an injury stronger than ever. I feel really pleased with how I achieved running goals, and I'm excited to see what I can do in the new year.

I had to start working part-time in May due to the crappy economy, but I made the best of it and planned some trips.

In 2009, I went to Chicago twice (once for Steph's birthday and once for the marathon), Ireland and England for two weeks, Oregon/Washington, Orange Beach for a fun week with friends and Huntsville for my other marathon. Awesome times.

I did some hiking. I went white water rafting. I watched MTSU baseball games with my sister. I saw Celine Dion, the New Kids on the Block, Death Cab for Cutie, Dave Matthews Band (twice! once from row 15 dead center!), Dave Barnes, Matthew Perryman Jones and Imogen Heap in various concerts. I had fun nights with friends at The Big Bang in Nashville.

I did a lot of volunteer work and even planned a 5K for the non-profit I serve at regularly.

I celebrated birthdays and attended weddings.

I lost two grandparents.

I stayed connected and developed my relationships with old friends.

I reconnected and became really good friends with an awesome group of people I knew in college.

I made new friends, including two awesome running buddies.

It's easy sometimes to think about all the bad things that happened. It's easy sometimes to sit at the end of the year, especially when you're young and single, and feel as though nothing is really different than it was at this time last year... but when I list everything out like this, I realize that's not true.

I've had some rough moments this year, but in the end it's been an incredibly fulfilling year overall. I've had a TON of good things happen, and I am realizing more and more every day just how lucky I am. My life is good. There is much to be thankful for.

Nonetheless, I still can't help but hope for 2010 to be even better and even more fulfilling!

I want to get new PRs in the half and full marathon distances (and any other distance, but I want these two to be my priority). I'm going to try my first triathlon in April!!! I'm pretty excited about that and plan on beginning training soon (in addition to my normal running training, of course).

I'll turn 27.

I'm going to find a new job.

I'm going to find a new place to live.

And who knows what else will happen.

But I have this crazy feeling that 2010 is going to be good.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Gift for Myself

We all know how Christmas shopping can go.

One present for you, one present for me. One present for you, one present for me.

I couldn't help it. I rarely go shopping (even though I'm a girl, I don't really enjoy this as a hobby), but when I do I often see things I want. I did pretty well this year and limited myself on how much I bought for myself, but there were a few things I had to buy. Most of it was clothing. Since I know I'll likely be getting a job that I need to dress nicely for (as opposed to my last job at a cabinet shop where I wore a t-shirt and jeans every day), I figured it was wise to go on and start buying some nicer clothes while I was finding them on sale. This will also keep me from having to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe all at once when I do find a job.

But I also bought something that was totally not a necessity, definitely a want.

I splurged.

And it was worth it.

I've wanted to get some sort of Nashville skyline print or painting or something for a LONG time. Even though I know I may not always live in Nashville, it will always be home. It will always be the city I grew up living right on the edge of (I don't technically live right in Nashville, but close enough to claim it).

I found this one at the Christmas Village back in November, and I am thrilled with how it looks hanging over my couch in my living room. It came matted and framed, so that totally made it a deal.

I know this isn't a great picture (it's hard to get one without any glare off the glass), but you get the idea. See if you can pick out which building we all affectionately refer to as "the Batman building." I know it always throws out of towners of guard when we mention it... people are always like, "you have a Batman building? What does that even mean?!" Heehee.

This is the kind of thing that I know I will always be glad that I bought, and it will always hang somewhere in my home... no matter where I end up living.

Merry Christmas to me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My BFF


We all have one. That one person who gets you. The one who has seen it all with you. The one that you've experienced ups and downs with and came out just fine together on the other side.

Steph and I met in high school... the first week of freshman year, in fact. She dropped a harmless note over my shoulder in first period algebra 2, and the rest really was history.

We shared many a note during our four years of high school, some of which I deemed worthy of saving and are stored in a little box in my closet. It's fun to reread them every once in a blue moon.

High school was full of crushes, first dates and first kisses... as well as first heartbreaks.

We laughed a lot. We cried some (because who are we kidding? Even best friends have a little conflict from time to time). We played cards during study breaks and always killed the competition, especially in kemps. We had sleepovers. We went to football games. We sang in the hallways. We played Marco Polo in the hallways.

Steph was the best thing that happened to me in high school. Even though we attended different colleges, we managed to see each other a few times a year and keep the friendship strong through email and phone calls.

When she moved away to Boston for law school, I made sure to fly up there once a year.

Somewhere in there I watched her meet a boy, fall in love, get engaged... and then I stood nearby as a bridesmaid when they got married. Fortunately, the boy understands my role in their lives. I think he's pretty great, too.

I love that she moved to Chicago because I can easily get there from Nashville thanks to Southwest Airlines. I was thrilled to share my Chicago marathon experience with her.

We've been through a lot since that day in algebra 2 when we were 14 and the world outside of school was such a mystery.

I have a lot of really good friends. I'm definitely very blessed and have some great relationships with a lot of people... but Steph will always be the one I claim as a best friend. She understands me. She gives great advice when I need it. She's a great sounding board. She gets excited with me when I'm excited, and she's sad with me when I'm sad. And I try to be as good of a friend to her as she is to me.

Steph's family still lives in Knoxville, so when I found out she and the hubs were coming in for Christmas I quickly invited myself - wait, I mean politely asked myself - over so that we could spend some time together.

I woke up on Saturday morning and drove the 3 hours to get to her. We had lunch and caught up in person. Sure, we love exchanging emails to stay in touch, but nothing beats seeing each other. We always pick up exactly where we left off, and it feels as though no time has passed since we last saw each other.

I also got to go back to her folks' place and spend some time with the family. It's always nice to see them, and in a lot of ways they feel like family to me.

After joining them for dinner, I made the 3-hour trek back home.

It's hard to explain true friendship sometimes. I know I've tried a few times to explain it to my sister... she's had some experiences with girls who were less than a true friend to her.

I think a good way of saying it is this: when I went to leave and Steph and I were hugging goodbye, she thanked me again for coming and said something along the lines of how much she appreciated me spending 6 hours in the car with her that day. I told her she's worth it and that it was nothing.

And I meant it. There are plenty of people that I may care a great deal about but that I wouldn't eagerly hop in the car for 6 hours to see. Steph's not one of them. She's one that I don't even blink twice when I offer to drive over to spend a few hours with her and her family.

I have no doubt that Steph is always going to be a part of my life, even if we never live in the same city again. We were talking at lunch about a couple of the things we remember being upset over or having hurt feelings about and how it of course seems silly now. I think that's also when you know you have a true friend... when you're able to get through anything and come out stronger because of it.

I think I have a tendency to think about what I'm thankful for even more at Christmas, and I think it's because there are so many people and things that I consider to be such a gift. Steph really is a gift in my life, and I am always hopeful that everyone else out there has been as lucky as I have been and has found a true friend.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas

Did everyone else have a nice Christmas?

I know I certainly did, even if it has been a bit of a whirlwind. I have seriously had somewhere to be or something to do every night for the past several weeks, and that's not changing any this week. Fortunately, it's almost all been fun stuff.

Our Christmas was pretty laid back this year. My dad went and got my grandma on Christmas Eve and we all had a big dinner that mom made. It was definitely a little weird to not have grandpa there, so that made everything a bit bittersweet to say the very least.

I ended up staying up pretty late on Christmas Eve, mostly because I don't sleep well when I'm not in my own bed. Before I knew it, it was 8am and grandma was ready for everyone to get up.

We had decided to do things a bit differently if at all possible this year since we knew it would be hard not having grandpa with us. We still ate breakfast first, but then we settled in and watched the Disney Christmas parade for two hours. Then we finally opened presents.

My family is taking a vacation together soon, so Christmas was a bit smaller this year since we've spent money on the trip. I still came home with some nice gifts.

I was most excited about getting a Garmin GPS for the car. Sure, I'd love one for running, but I wanted one for the car more. Plus, it was WAY cheaper than the watches.

I also received some new clothes, a few movies and some other fun odds and ends. I am definitely a very blessed gal.

We ended up going on Christmas night to see The Blind Side. It was a really great movie, so if you have the chance to see it then I totally recommend it.

We've gotten to spend a lot of time with other friends and family throughout the past week or so. It's always nice to get together and have a meal or hang out with people this time of year and catch up.

Please forgive me if I continue to be a bit scarce in my posting and commenting. I have SO much going on the next week or two. I promise that I'll be sharing some thoughts for the new year soon as well as some other fun stuff!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Men Can Be Surprising

So I wrote a post a few weeks ago and shared some of my ranting about how complicated dating always seems to be. You can check it out here if need be.

I don't really want to share much personal info tonight about where what I'm about to say is coming from since as y'all know I like to keep my dating stories a bit more private.

Tonight I have little to rant about and need to offer a bit of a rave.

Sometimes men can surprise you. Even though so many of us identify with some of the frustrations I shared in that post a few weeks ago (I got a lot more comments and more emails about it than almost any other post has ever solicited), it's true that something can happen that makes you forget about all that crappy stuff.

Let's face it: what we see in all the romantic comedies isn't the rule. In every chick flick, the same thing happens. Boy meet girl. They fall in love or something like it. There's a conflict and they part ways. Time passes. One of them realizes the error of their ways and comes back and fights to win the other person back.

How many times has someone come back and fought for you?

My friends and I often talk about how when a guy ends something with us, it's his loss. I'm sure that we mostly say this to make ourselves feel better, but I know we all like to hope it's kind of true. And it's hard to not wonder sometimes if these guys don't ever get down the road and realize they made a mistake. And it's hard not to wonder if they'd call you back up if that happens.

Honestly, that's never happened to me... until now.

And it's incredibly refreshing. I don't know that it's really going to turn into anything, and I'm honestly not the least bit concerned about that right now. But what I do know is that it was nice to find out that there are men out there who have the guts to call you back up, apologize, and ask to see you again.

I know there have been plenty of guys that I would have said no to if they had done that, but there have always been some that I knew I would give a second chance if they came back.

I believe almost everyone deserves a second chance depending on what happened that hurt the first chance.

I heard the guy out. We had a pretty serious discussion about what happened. I was very up front and honest about what I thought. And in the end, I decided that I accept his apology and would like to see him again.

We'll see what happens, but if nothing else it has at least restored a little bit of my faith that there are indeed mature men out there. Men who can take responsibility for their actions. Men who have to confidence to apologize and ask you to forgive them. Men who want to learn from what happened and be better for it.

It's really nice.

So. I probably won't be saying much about it, but I'll be seeing this guy again. We've agreed to just enjoy hanging out and not pressure ourselves into defining it or determining what the future holds anytime soon. It feels very relaxed, and I like that.

Dating is complicated. If it wasn't, then I wouldn't be considering writing a book about it. We all know that there are the ups and downs. Some days I question if it's worth it. But when something like this happens, I know that it is indeed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It Pays to Be a Runner

I'm not even going to lie.

I was told by someone tonight that I have a great butt. Someone from my past that was comfortable enough with me to tell me this even though he probably won't spend much time in my future. Someone who I know is sincere and really meant it as a compliment and a way of encouraging me to keep up my running. Someone who at one time meant a lot to me and that I now consider a dear friend from my past.

I totally went home grinning. It brought back specific memories of other times when my butt has been commented on, even the time when it was that one guy from NYC that I chatted with briefly at the Florabama and he yelled out "Nice @$$" as I walked away. I turned back, smiled, and said thanks.

It's a compliment that some may feel is inappropriate whether given by a friend or a stranger, but as a runner? As a runner, it's a compliment that I love to hear... maybe even more so than when people tell me I have great legs. :)

It pays to be a runner.

The Christmas Busyness

You're going to have to forgive me if posting is scarce.

Case in point:

Thursday I had dinner with a good friend and then joined yet another good friend for the Dave Barnes Comedy Extravaganza at The Belcourt Theater. If you want a good laugh, search "Dave Barnes Christmas" on youtube. Trust me.

Friday I hosted my annual Christmas party. I don't really put a lot of work into this. I basically invite all my closest friends and ask everyone to bring something salty or sweet to share. We had a blast!

Saturday my sister graduated from college.

Sunday we went to Manchester (not in England, but rather THE COUNTRY here in TN) to have dinner with some family.

Tonight we had dinner with some other family friends.

The next two nights involve plans with friends for the holidays.

Then it's Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Then I'm hoping to make a day trip to Knoxville to see my best friend if we're able to work it out.

Sunday we're doing Christmas with some other family friends.

Monday I have dinner plans.

Tuesday and Wednesday are FINALLY plan free, but then it's New Year's Eve (which I actually don't have plans for yet, but I certainly hope to soon.)

I've been enjoying it, but it's kind of exhausting.

Oh, and I've done like ZERO running, but I'm ok with that. I think that it's wise to take a week or two off from running here and there so that the body can recover. I might go do a strength training class at the gym tomorrow, but I really don't plan to run again until after Christmas.

I'm hoping to map out some racing plans for 2010 soon. I promise to share.

Like I said, posting will be scare these next couple of weeks, but I'm still trying to keep on top of reading your blogs and popping up when I can.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's a Party!

Hey everyone!

Today I'm blogging over at Wonju Wife and sharing my story about the day that Santa died. Go check it out!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mile Time Trial

So I know I'm supposed to be taking it pretty easy since I just ran a marathon. As in, I shouldn't be running this week.

But I signed and paid for a 9-week Tuesday night track clinic, and I wasn't very well going to miss the last session.

So I bundled up... because sure, it was almost 70 degrees here on Monday, but on Tuesday it was 32. Wind chill of 25. Yay.

All we were doing was picking up our shirts (awesome Brooks shirt, score!) and running a mile time trial to see if we had improved. The first week of the session was 2 days after running Chicago, so I figured it was decent that both of my time trials were right after marathons.

At the first one, I ran an 8:14. I knew I could run faster, but I had just run a 4:11 marathon and PRed by 20 minutes.

At this one? I ran a 7:06. Dang. I mean, I HAD run slower in the marathon before this one... but still. I was kind of surprised to pull this off.

It makes me wonder how fast I could run a mile if I HADN'T just run a marathon in the couple of days before trying.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Memories

I was born in 1983, and back then video cameras were still a relatively new thing for families to own. My parents didn't get one until I was about 9 months old, and the first four years of my life are on one VHS tape. They really only got it out on Christmas and my birthday, I think because it had to be hooked up to the tv in order to work. There are a ton of pictures from those years, but that video tape is soooo special to me. It's the only glimpse I really have of those first few years of my life that I don't really remember.

Every once in a blue moon, I pull it out and watch it. I've been doing so the past few nights. I'll sit down and watch about 30 minutes of it before going to bed. And I love it. I hope that doesn't sound too narcissistic of me.

I think that Christmas just brings out this little part of me that wants so badly to reconnect with my youth. I miss that feeling of impatience that comes in December. Time goes by so quickly, but I remember how Christmas seemed forever away when I was a child. I also remember the excitement and how fun it was to try to squeeze my eyes shut in bed on Christmas Eve in hopes that I would hurry up and fall asleep so that Santa Claus would come.

My second Christmas is the first one on the tape, and I love how I am shown standing at the edge of the living room. My parents and grandparents are trying to coax me to go across the room and check out the toys that Santa brought, but I was so overwhelmed by them that I wasn't quite sure what to make of it all. I finally go across and pick up one of the like four Care Bears sitting in the red wagon. Then I notice the pretend vacuum and ironing board, and I start using them "like mommy" as they suggest. I find the doctor's kit and mom shows me how to use various plastic instruments to play doctor.

My third Christmas started in a similar way, but Santa wrapped this presents this year. I bring them to the couch to open them one by one. I love seeing how animated my grandpa was and how excited he got as I got excited over each present (this is especially nice to watch this year since he just passed away and won't be with us for the first time).

My fourth Christmas is when Teddy Ruxpin showed up. Did anyone else have him? It's one of the childhood toys that I insisted on keeping. It's not that I play with it anymore, but it's something I remember really loving. I'd like to be able to let my own kids play with it someday.

That was also the year that I wanted "a talking bird." I don't remember it, but apparently I had seen this parrot toy that would record what you say and repeat it back to you. My grandpa got it for me, and I was soooo excited when I opened it up. It's so fun to see that look on my face.

Christmas is much different now. Some of our traditions are the same... there's the same Avon advent calendar with the little mouse that my sister and I still kind of fight over who gets to move it, even though neither of us live with the parentals anymore. Many of the Christmas ornaments are the same. We'll still open presents on Christmas morning and it will be fun.

But so much is different. We're not kids anymore. There aren't quite as many surprises in the packages. I don't have a bedtime on Christmas Eve.

It's fun to look back on those tapes and see what I was like as a kid, but it's even more fun to kind of reminisce on what Christmas used to be like.

There's one short clip where I'm still a little unsure about everything and I'm just kind of standing there... mom says something about how Santa must have thought I was really good and I look at the toys and then look at her and I say, "It's wonderful" in this small little voice. I didn't even know that I knew that word when I was 2 1/2, but apparently I did. It made me smile to see that.

Christmas is wonderful. It may not be the same, but it's still a wonderful season of giving. I love seeing that look on people's faces when they open a gift I picked out especially for them. And I hope to someday have kids of my own and that I'll be able to see their faces full of excitement on Christmas morning.

What are your Christmas memories?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Spirit of Volunteering

I got to do something kind of different last week. I worked at a benefit dinner for the non-profit I volunteer for here in Nashville.

I've never really been to a fancy benefit dinner, mostly because even though I would love to pay $200 to go to one since it goes to a good cause I just can't really afford to make that large of a donation. This is why I usually donate much more of my time than my money.

I was pretty excited about working it, in part because I got to get really dressed up. I don't have too many reasons to do that these days. I had bought an awesome dress recently at White House Black Market (only because it was ridiculously on sale) so I was pumped to wear it (sorry, I didn't take any pictures).

There was a silent auction that had some really awesome items on it, and the live auction was really neat to witness. They were auctioning off things like trips and wine tastings and golf with Titans players... and people were forking over some serious dough. It was awesome because the event raised $150,000 for the non-profit!!! But it blows me away that people have that much money sometimes. I just can't imagine. But believe me, if I had it I'd totally spend it on awesome things like that where I would know the money was going to a great cause.

Jars of Clay did a little performance, and it was pretty cool because I've enjoyed their music for years ever since they hit radio with "Flood" back in the day. It was fun to get to kind of enjoy the event even while working it.

I definitely think that giving my time to stuff like this is a big part of what fulfills me. I always enjoy myself when I'm working at an event for a good cause. In a lot of ways, I feel like my service is just as helpful as writing a check could be. I encourage everyone to consider donating some time to a good cause if at all possible sometime soon. I know it's easy to get in the spirit to give of ourselves this time of year, but I encourage us all to remember to continue to do it in the new year as well. All sorts of organizations need help year-round, whether it's to work one time at an event or to come in regularly and help out with odds and ends around the office.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Race Report: Rocket City Marathon

On Saturday, December 12th, I ran my sixth marathon. This is my story.

On Friday, I made myself get up early so that I would hopefully have little trouble getting to sleep that night. Even though I was busy doing laundry and packing for the overnight trip, it still hadn't really sunk in that I would be running a marathon the next day. I haven't quite made sense of that. I can't figure out if it's that I have done such a good job of not placing pressure on myself about races this year that I just feel little anxiety OR if I've run enough races now that I know there's little to be nervous about.

My parents joined me for the drive down to Huntsville Friday afternoon. I stopped by the race headquarters to pick up my shirt and number... I was pleased when I found out it was #1338 since it started with my lucky number 13 - just like in Chicago! I had also heard Bart Yasso would be at the expo, so I was a total nerd and got him to sign my copy of his book that I had bought last year. The expo was more like 3 booths of running gear, so we were quickly out of there and at Olive Garden for a yummy meal.

We were in the hotel by 7pm, so I got all my stuff ready and climbed into bed to watch Christmas movies until I crashed around 11pm.

I was up a little before 7am and got dressed. Since the temperature was going to be in the mid to upper 30s the whole time, I opted to wear long sleeves and long pants. This was actually the first marathon I have ever had to run in pants. A headband for my ears and gloves rounded out my race day outfit.

At the start, I located running pals Amy, Matt and Cheryl for some pre-race pictures.

We all kind of shared the feeling that this would not be a PR kind of day. The cold wasn't really all that bad, but there was a bit of a wind that we had to run into a few different times. Plus, Amy, Matt and I had all recently run marathons. I definitely didn't want to put pressure on myself to try to run even faster than I did in Chicago when that race was already a PR by 20 minutes. I definitely want to break 4 hours, but I knew that this race was not the time to try.

However, I did want to get a course PR. I ran this race in 4:31:23 back in 2007 and it had been my PR until I demolished it in Chicago this year. I felt good about trying to shoot for a sub-4:30 finish.

We all set out together and found that we were comfortably running 10 minute miles or a little bit faster for quite a while. This first photo isn't the best since we're kind of far away, but from left to right you can see Cheryl in blue, me in all black, Matt in yellow and Amy in pink. This is around mile 5.

I know I felt pretty good all the way to the half when Cheryl decided to stop for a bathroom break and the rest of us kept going. There are a couple of miles of the course around this point that you are running on the same road, and by the time we turned off of it past mile 14 I was ready. I don't like running down the same road for that long in a race.

Somewhere around the half we also had a woman running along with us for a while. She commented on how we were running like the perfect pace... and then she passed us. I didn't say anything out loud, but I secretly hoped I would see her again.

We also noticed a girl who had on a strapless dress over her shirt and tights. I don't know why, but this really irritated me. Or maybe it was the fact that she was doing the run/walk thing. Don't get me wrong... I have no issues with dressing crazy in a race or doing a run/walk system... but there's always a person in a race who kind of annoys me for no real reason, and I kind of make it my goal to beat that person. I think I did say this one out loud.

By the time we reached mile 17, I was starting to feel a little tired. I was kind of surprised because I had been pretty laid back in my training so I knew I had fresh legs. I think that most of my aches were in my butt and lower back, so I'm thinking that I needed to have been a bit more on top of core work. I'll definitely be working more on that in my next training cycle.

The next photo below is just before mile 17.

Shortly around mile 19, Amy stopped off to use the bathroom so it was down to Matt and me for the last 7 miles. Up until this point, we'd all been doing well at keeping around the 10 minute mile pace. When I looked down at my split at mile 20, I realized we ran an 11 minute mile. I definitely didn't like seeing that, so I tried to pick it back up a bit. I knew that I had lost steam as we neared the 20-mile mark, but I was ready to get that second wind and keep going.

I won't lie. The next 5 miles were tough. I was kind of ready to be done, and Matt and I were talking less and less. Nonetheless, having someone you know running beside you really helps you to keep going.

Another thing that helped? We passed the girl wearing the strapless dress around mile 22 and never saw her again. This made me happy.

I was thrilled to see the mile 25 sign and told Matt I wanted to pick it up in an effort to try to hit 4:25 since I knew we'd be close. (I like flat numbers divisible by 5 for some reason.) We ended up running that last mile in 9:40.

We also passed the woman who had been near us at the half that said we were running the perfect pace. We were friendly and spoke to her, but deep down I felt kind of happy about passing her. I think that part of it is that I love it when I get proof that running a steady and consistent pace can be better than trying to run faster and then getting slower and slower.

I really kicked it in during that last .2, though I seriously doubt that it looked very fast. The picture below is from maybe 100 yards from the finish line.

We crossed the line in 4:25:37. Not long after, Amy finished and then Cheryl.

This last photo is of me with Amy and Matt... all wearing our medals. Matt and I also have on the finisher's hat that we get.


I ended up not feeling hungry so I didn't really get any of the food afterwards. I changed clothes and was glad to be able to sit down and relax.

I really do like this race, and I was pleased to set a new course PR. Overall, my time also ended up being my second fastest marathon ever... so that's pretty cool, too.

The race is only $50, and not only do you get the usual course support, you also get a Nike long-sleeve shirt, medal, hat and your race line photo. I think it's a steal for a small little southern race. The course isn't super cool or anything... mostly residential. But it's pleasant, and I think it's fun to run a race this time of year. I definitely recommend it! Now that I've run it twice I'm not sure I'll run it again unless I just want to get another 26.2 under my belt kind of like I did this year.

I'm pretty much hanging up my running shoes for a few weeks now. I've still got 2 more sessions of the track clinic that I'll go to, and I may get a few 6-10 milers in here and there just to make sure I don't totally lose my endurance... but I want to give my body a break until the new year. I've got to figure out my plans for the first few races of the year, and I'll share them as soon as I do!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gearing Up for Marathon #6

So I'm running a marathon on Saturday.

I still don't think it's quite sunk in yet. I've been so laid back about running a second marathon this year. In fact, I probably haven't trained as well in between races as I originally intended... but I got some good long runs in and know that I'm capable of going the distance on Saturday.

Will it be a new PR? Who knows... I'm not really setting any goals or making any expectations for myself. I had a hell of a race in Chicago, and I'm not going to be upset if I don't top it. I am not really trying to top it.

Rocket City is a small marathon with 1500 runners. Huntsville is nothing spectacular to run around. It's going to be chilly, and as of right now there's a 70% chance of rain.

But I will be starting the race with 3 Nashville friends. I will run 26.2. And I will feel fantastic about completing another marathon regardless of what the finish line clock says when I get there.

Maybe I'll feel great and pull out a PR. Maybe I'll stay relaxed and have fun running with friends. Maybe it will suck. Who knows.

But I don't mind waiting to see how it goes. A marathon is a marathon, and I'm thrilled to be able to run another one. We'll see what happens when I get out there.

Since it's such a small race there isn't any runner tracking, but you'll probably be able to look up the results at the Rocket City website before I get to a computer to post them.

By the way... I know this might be way too much info... but I have to say it. You know you're a marathon runner when you find yourself getting pumped in the days before a marathon because you realize you've gotten your #2 bathroom schedule so that it's happening in the afternoons and therefore you have a good chance of getting through the marathon without having to go. :)

Hope everyone has a terrific weekend whether you're racing or hitting up Christmas parties. I'll see you all again on the other side of my sixth marathon!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Preparation

Today was a good day.

I slept in - which I need to stop doing tomorrow so that I can get on a more normal sleep schedule and hopefully go to bed at a decent time Friday night before my marathon.

I baked 3 different kinds of cookies. I like doing some extra baking over the holidays, and between needing some goods to give as gifts and to take to a party this weekend I needed to get on top of it and make some things. I love making cookies from scratch. By the time all was said and done, I had made peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses on top, chocolate oat no-bake cookies, and sugar cookies with Christmas sprinkles.

I watched So You Think You Can Dance and Glee. Has anyone else been watching SYTYCD this season? I was a little miffed over the results tonight. I think Mollee is a better dancer than Elanore, and I don't think it's quite fair that Ashleigh got through and Mollie didn't when she didn't even dance and we don't even know if she can dance in the finale next week. I think Jakob should win, so I suppose I don't REALLY care. But still... At least the Glee fall finale rocked and made me happy.

I also met with my financial advisor today. I always love the semi-annual meetings. It makes me excited to know that I'm being smart by saving and investing and planning for the future. Seriously, I don't understand why more people don't do the same.

I also read all your sweet comments about the video of Tucker in the tree. :)

It's interesting, because I had a pretty laid back day when I think about it. I think that it's days like this one that make me enjoy the holiday season. I love thinking about how the people I give gifts to will enjoy them. I love looking over and seeing my pretty Christmas tree. I love going to parties.

It's easy to feel a little down this time of year. I want a special someone in my life, and I feel that as I get invitations to parties and do my shopping and baking... I want someone to share it all with. But that day will come, and I enjoy what the holidays are as a single gal. I have a lot of good people in my life, and there is much to be thankful for.

Tomorrow I'll log my last run before Saturday's marathon and then plan to get all dressed up to work a benefit dinner for the non-profit I volunteer for all the time. I'm pretty pumped about it.

It still hasn't really hit me that I'm running a marathon this weekend. I keep saying things like, "yeah, I'm running a full in Huntsville Saturday morning and then heading back in time to get to Aleesha's Christmas party." What? Yeah, I'm planning on going to a Christmas party post-race. I hope they'll have enough food.

Tucker Loves Christmas

Tucker is generally a well-behaved cat. I don't really ever have any issues with him... until I put up my Christmas tree. It's like his little youthful side comes back out (but I think we all experience that this time of year). Here's a little video as requested by several of you. My southern voice adds some narration.

Untitled from Mel Belle on Vimeo.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I've been busy lately with finishing up my Christmas decorating and shopping, planning some holiday baking and deciding on outfits for Christmas parties. I only listen to Christmas music in the car this time of year, so I'm humming a carol almost all of the time.

I love Christmas. It really is such a festive time, and I love having the extra reasons to connect with people and do fun things you can only do at Christmas.

One such activity? Checking out the Christmas lights and decorations at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

I don't do this every year, mostly because it's always the same and I like having a few years to forget what it all looks like. I like going and entering this mystical land of twinkly lights and waterfalls and greenery. The hotel is seriously amazing, and I love having a reason to go out there and wander around.

A good friend of mine suggested we head out there, and as soon as he said it I knew that I couldn't think of a better way to spend my Saturday night. So after dinner, we headed out there and joined the massive crowds (Opry Mills mall is nearby, and you can imagine it's a madhouse this time of year). After we finally found a parking spot, we made our way into the hotel and wandered around talking and checking out the lights.

So simple, but so lovely.

Twinkly lights!

The nativity scene and the really cool trees covered in lights.

Us with the big tree off in the distance.


Oh, and did I mention it's gotten really freaking cold here? 25 degrees!!! I have photo evidence, see? I guess it makes it feel more like Christmas, but dang I hate the cold.

I also watched the movie The Holiday this weekend with my mom... I LOVE that one as far as the "newer" holiday movies go.

I also finished up some crafting that I am really proud of... but I can't tell you about it because it was something I did as part of my gifts for my friends this year. If I remember, I'll share a picture of what I made after I've given them out.

This week is going to be kind of busy, mostly because of the season. I've got plans with different friends to meet and catch up. It's always fun to do that this time of year. I'm working a Christmas benefit this week (an awesome reason to wear a fabulous new dress I bought!).

And then I'm leaving Friday to go to Huntsville to run the Rocket City Marathon on Saturday. So maybe that's not part of the Christmas season, but it's kind of fun to run a marathon this time of year. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reminders of the Past

Since I opened up a bit about dating (and thanks everyone for your comments! It's both comforting and unsettling to find out I'm not alone with what I've experienced) and since several people have suggested that maybe I SHOULD write about dating more often, I figured I might as well open up a bit more before returning to our regularly scheduled programming. (I can't help it... I'm tapering for my marathon that happens next weekend, so I have little to say on the running front.)

I had a boyfriend in college/after college for a little less than 3 years. I'm pretty sure I've never said anything about him on here. This is intentional. I will continue to not say much. We don't speak. In fact, I haven't seen him in 2 1/2 years. We're not friends on Facebook. We don't follow each other on Twitter. So I don't think it's important for me to say anything about him. The past is the past. Now that it's been 3 1/2 years since we broke up, it sometimes feels like it never even happened. It was so long ago. The details are fuzzy. It's almost as if we're strangers now.

But our lives are still mingled at times. We have mutual friends, so sometimes I hear things. It's usually in one ear and out the other, but nonetheless I have a good idea what his life is like now. Every now and then, I wonder if that goes both ways.

I might go for MONTHS without thinking anything about him, and then I'll happen to hear someone say they saw him or some inconsequential detail that they heard about him. (It's funny how people think you might want to know these things even though you never ask.)

Tonight? I had an interesting reminder of him and his family and what my life was like 5 or so years ago when things were really good with him. I didn't expect it at all.

I was watching the 2-hour Private Practice tonight. Anyone else tune in? During the last couple of minutes of the show (the second hour of it), there was a beautiful song playing in the background. Something about it sounded familiar. I knew I had never actually heard the song, but I recognized the voice. I craned to listen as they faded it behind dialogue.

The actors became quiet. The volume on the song was turned up. I listened. And I just felt so sure that it had to be her.

I hopped on the internet and found out that I was right.

It was funny how hearing her tonight brought back memories, some that I hadn't remembered in years. She is his sister, and like many people in Nashville she's been working hard to be a musician. I remember going with him to hear her play at churches or small venues around Nashville. I wrote a piece about her for my college newspaper when she came to our campus to do a benefit show for a mission trip. I remember how much I respected her drive and ambition and how much I truly wanted to see her succeed.

I haven't seen or spoken to her in years either, and that's ok. But tonight? I felt a little connected again to people from my past. I'm not looking to make them part of my present, but it was nice to smile and remember. It was nice to see that she's living her dream. It was nice to hear her music on a major network tv show. Way to go!

I suppose that when you have the kind of relationship like what I had with him, you're always going to be connected. Even though it didn't work out and even though I'm glad now that it didn't, I will never be able to completely forget that he at one time was important to me, and that I was important to him. He will always be a part of my history. He will always be a part of what shaped me into the woman I am now. That relationship taught me lessons that I carry into the relationships I have in the present and ultimately the one that I will have with my husband in the future.

There was a time when he meant everything to me, and now? I can't say he means nothing because he will always mean something... but it's just different. I think anyone who has ever had a serious relationship end will know what I mean.

It's nice to be in this place. The one where I have long since thrown away most of the stuff that lingered in the "boyfriend box" after the breakup. Sure, he's in some pictures in my scrapbooks from that period of my life. I hung on to a couple of letters he had written, mostly because I don't want to completely erase the fact that I was once in a very important relationship. Maybe in time I'll feel the need to trash those, too, but for now they're in a box... where I probably haven't looked at them in over 2 years.

I don't have any of the gifts he gave me any more. None of the clothes I got that one happy Christmas. None of the mix cds he made. None of the artwork that he made for me. None of the trinkets and odds and ends he picked up as surprises for me. It never felt right to keep those reminders around.

But even though he is no longer relevant in my life... even though I so rarely think about him... he's always going to be part of my past. And sometimes it really is nice to reminisce a bit.

I'm proud of his sister. I felt really excited for her tonight. And I'm glad that at one point in my life, I knew her.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some Thoughts on Dating

There are a lot of reasons why I say VERY little about dating on my blog.
  1. I'm not exactly anonymous, and I don't want the guys I'm dating to read what I might write about them.
  2. I am by nature a fairly private person about personal details.
  3. I don't like to talk much about it when things don't work out.
Sometimes I question my own policy about writing about dating because believe me - as a 2osthing single gal I have a LOT of really great stories I could share. Some good, some bad... but in the end, they all feel pretty personal. I end up not sharing many because in some ways it feels less personal to me if I tell everyone about it.

(Of course, I plan on writing a book about my dating experiences someday, haha. That will be different. I probably won't do it until the last chapter can be about finding Mr. Right, ha.)

I mentioned I had a few dates with a guy, so now because I mentioned it I feel like I have to mention that it's ended up not being something that's going to go anywhere. No need to feel down for me... I was having fun, but it was still relatively new and it's so not a big deal for it to be over now.

But I've been in this same exact place plenty of times. It almost doesn't even surprise me anymore when I get that call that things are over. I think I can tell the guy what he's about to say to end things before it ever even comes out of his head (or butt, ha).

A friend and I exchanged some emails today and found that we've both got the same stories:
  • He's not looking for a relationship.
  • He's not over his ex-girlfriend.
  • He doesn't have time to commit because he needs to focus on something else.
  • Etc.
That's all fine and dandy, but here's my issue with this stuff:

Don't ask me out if any of the above or anything similar to the above apply to you.

I'm serious. Dating is fun and all, but don't lead me on. Don't ask me out and then ask me out again and then start telling me how much you like me and why you like me and how you want to do such and such with me next week and how much fun you have with me... because if you keep doing that, I let my guard down. And I start to like you. And I think that you're trying to communicate that you like me because you keep saying that and asking me out. And then you pull this 180 and give me a reason why you really aren't looking to date very much in the first place and it's over as soon as it started and I'm not really even sure what just happened or why you bothered to ask me out in the first place if you knew you weren't looking for anything.

WTF.

Listen up men... no offense. I know there are good men out there who are not doing this to women... men who aren't freaking out 5-6 dates in and then finding a reason to get out... men who are not pursuing and pursuing and then pulling the plug out of seemingly nowhere. Men who are not afraid of commitment! (Let's face it... whether they admit it or not, I firmly believe this is why it usually doesn't work out. That could be a whole different blog post.)

But I haven't met one of you yet... at least not one that wasn't already married to one of my friends. :)

We're on to you men. Us women? We talk. Even if we don't do it on our blogs, we definitely are talking over cocktails. And we know that many of you are doing this same exact thing to all of us.

I'm venting a bit. Please don't take any offense, and please know I realize I'm overgeneralizing. I'm mostly just pissed off that it always seems like the same exact thing happens every time I meet someone who I think is worth spending my time with. Maybe I'd be less annoyed if I felt like guys were being a little bit more creative or something. Like the one guy who told me after 2-3 dates that he wasn't sure we should keep dating because his ex was about to have his baby! (True story.) THAT is a valid explanation.

Anyways, don't get me wrong. I am not the kind of girl who has to be dating someone. In fact, I really only dated like 2-3 guys this year, and none of them were very serious. I'm not one of those girls who just wants a relationship or who is just husband hunting. Sure, ultimately I want the real deal, but I don't go into dating someone thinking too seriously about it in the beginning. That comes with time. And I definitely am not out trolling for men or anything. I really just meet people randomly.

But if I'm going to be dating... if I'm going to be spending my time with someone... I just don't want to be led on. Don't act all into me and then end it out of nowhere. Just be up front and honest. If you're not feeling it, don't say things to indicate that you are. Period. Because it really pisses me off that you make me feel foolish for liking you when you call out of nowhere and say you're just not looking to commit. I wouldn't have let myself start liking you and I wouldn't have kept saying yes to your date invitations if I knew you weren't really all that into me or dating or a relationship or WHATEVER after all.

Oh, one more thing... don't give me the whole "I know a lot of people just blow people off and never call again, but I wanted to be respectful and honest and tell you what I think" thing. Do NOT for a second pat yourself on the back because you told me you wouldn't be around any more. Calling me to end things if that's how you feel is just the right thing to do. You didn't go above and beyond mister. I am not impressed.

Seriously, that book I'm going to write... it's going to be awesome.

I feel a lot better writing this out. It's not like me to publish something like this on here, so don't be surprised if I change my mind and delete it later.

In the end, I do feel rather unphased. I've been in this same boat quite a few times. You kind of just have to roll your eyes and let it go (though I know sometimes this is easier said than done). The whole "other fish in the sea" thing. There's always going to be someone else.
I know there's a great guy out there for me, and we just haven't found each other yet. It'd be easy for me to say "screw dating! To hell with men!" Believe me. But I always take the risk. I always put myself out there. If I meet and start seeing someone I like, I do eventually let my guard down a bit. And so far, that hasn't worked out for me.

But if I don't keep taking the risk... if I don't keep putting myself out there... then I'll never connect with someone in the way that I hope to do someday when the time is right and when the relationship is right. I can't find my special person if I'm not out there dating and getting to know new guys. It'll be through doing that that I will eventually find him.

It just clearly wasn't this guy. And that's ok.

I'm just annoyed. Every guy I've ever dated has been pretty different, but it just baffles me that it always ends the same exact way.

I know that more than likely, this will happen again. But someday, I hope the story will turn out differently. I know that it will when it's the right guy. You know what they say... you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince! I guess I got another frog down. :)

PS - Attn. Mr. Frog - I doubt that you're reading, but if you are... I really do think you're a great guy. I wouldn't have spent time with you if I didn't. I'm not really trying to bash you. I had a fantastic time with you, and I hate that we won't be seeing each other again. But I had to vent... your story was the same as all the other guys before you, and it's just getting old.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

101 in 1001 Update

With it being a new month, it's time for another 101 in 1001 update.

Here's what I accomplished in November:

6. Run in at least eight races I’ve never run in before - I ran the Team Nashville 10-miler on 11/14/09.

68. Go to three concerts per year - I saw Imogen Heap at Exit/In here in Nashville 11/20/09.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - Totally nailed this one. I watched a lot of movies this month!
  • Couples' Retreat
  • Taking of Pelham 123
  • Imagine That
  • Assassination of a High School President
  • Paranormal Activity
  • The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  • Up
  • 17 Again
  • The Rocker
96. Read one book per month, minimum - I read a book called A Beautiful Mess about the Nashville country band Diamond Rio. Not a terrific read, but it was interesting to read their story.

99. Name my car - I had wanted to maybe give it a cute clever name, but I've decided to just call it The Cougar... because it's actually a cougar, not because I'm one! :)

So I didn't really accomplish that much in November, but it's been kind of a crazy month. I'm sure December will be as well, but hey... I'm still making progress!