Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Several of my friends and I decided to stick with celebrating Halloween on Saturday night, and we ended up having a total blast! I don't think I've had a night this fun in months!

I had been excited about my costume ever since I bought it the day after Halloween last year. I've wanted to be a bumblebee for years, and I was thrilled to find a super cute version.

After getting ready, some friends and I gathered to hang out and enjoy some snacks before heading out.

M and M attended as Betty from Mad Men and Alan from The Hangover.

My sister wore my saloon girl costume from last year and looked super cute!

P went as a version of Sidney Bristow from Alias. This photo also illustrates how I used my stinger throughout the evening. I'm not even kidding - if I made eye contact with anyone (in particular, cute boys), I'd grab my stinger and "sting" them and go "Buzzzzzz!" I got a LOT of laughs.

The other person in our group, E, went as Sandy from the end of Grease. I definitely thought all of our costumes were pretty cool!

We called a cab and headed out to midtown, my favorite part of Nashville to go out in with friends. I decided to take some photos in the cab, but I forgot that I should probably stop singing, "baby I like it" while taking the photo. (We had all been singing since it was on the radio. I feel bad for our driver.)

Halloween may just be the only time I'll ever see a baby in Red Door.

We had so much fun at Red Door. I think we were there close to three hours, and it ended up getting so crowded. I met some new people and had some excellent conversations. I think what I like most about Halloween is that you always have something to talk about with the perfect strangers around you. I wish we could wear costumes out more often!

My sister and I have never really gone out together much, so it was really fun to get to have her out with me and my friends.

P's wig is awesome by the way.

So Red Door is one of my favorite places in Nashville. There's this hole in the floor, and it's usually something that guys will try to get girls to get on the floor to look through... with the intention being that the girl will then have her butt up in the air and they can check it out.

E totally decided to have a look, and then I followed suit. I had never looked before, not wanting to be the girl everyone was laughing at... but since it was Halloween, it seemed like the best time to finally take a peek.

I also held my camera to the hole and took a picture of what's down there...

After having an excellent time at Red Door, we headed across the street to Loser's. The place was packed, and we didn't stay too terribly long. A girl stepped on my foot with her high heel, causing me to almost cry in pain... I was pretty much over the crowds after that.

So we hopped in a cab and headed to Greenhouse, another favorite spot here in Green Hills. Last year, P and I ended up there and had a super time... but this year there was hardly anyone there. Nonetheless, we hung out for a while. I think it was actually pretty perfect because it gave us a chance to stay out a bit longer but to also be able to be a bit more chill. We didn't have to yell any more to hear each other, and I wasn't having to hold on to my wings while squeezing through crowds.

I met this guy J who happens to also run and found out that he's often gone to the East Nasty runs that I have just started going to. There's something neat to me when I connect with other runners out in public. It's like I immediately know it's ok to talk about running since they run, too.

We didn't get back to my place until 3am. I haven't been up that late in a little while, so I'm feeling it today. At one time we talked about going to the East Nashville pub crawl tonight, but none of us really felt like going out again. Instead, I did some cleaning, took a nap, and have enjoyed a quiet day catching up on my hulu queue.

It was definitely a fun Halloween with some of my favorite people. I couldn't have asked for a better night.

I'm just kind of sad I don't have more reasons to wear my bumblebee outfit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Checking In with Blog Land

So there's a 5K this weekend.

I'm running in it (and hoping to smash my PR)... but I'm also helping to pull the whole thing off.

It means this week is nuts.

Tonight is the only night of the week I have time to myself, so I skipped my run (no sense wearing myself out when I have such an insanely busy week just to get a few more miles in) and have stayed in to catch up on laundry, ironing, dishes and cleaning (since I'm having some people over this weekend).

I'm exhausted just thinking about the next 4 days.

Oh, and Saturday night is the big Halloween night. Good thing I already have my costume figured out.

And I'm still kind of reeling from some events from last week. People can be surprising. I'll leave it there.

So yeah... I might not be around on here for a few days, but stayed tuned after for a race report from the 5K and fun Halloween pictures. I'm really excited about my costume!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting Ready for The Monkey

All of my usual training buddies were out of town this weekend, so I took advantage of the Nashville Striders message board to see if I could find a few people interested in getting a long run in with me. The Monkey is less than a month away after all...

Plans were made, and I knew that a couple of people would be showing up. I was a little nervous about it. I had said I run between 10-11 minute miles when I run the hills of Percy Warner, and some of these other folks said that sounded like a great pace... but I didn't know any of them and couldn't help be a little afraid that everyone who showed would be way faster than me. The whole idea was that I didn't want to run alone.

I was surprised when I got there to find that at least 20 people decided to come out! Not everyone was running the full 16 miles we had planned a course for, but still... all that because I made a little post about needing to run and wanting company.

It ended up that within the first mile I settled into a comfortable pace right next to another gal, Melissa. We ended up running and talking the whole time. It's nice when you run a long run with someone new because you don't know anything about each other and can usually find plenty to talk about. Her husband Jeff was out there as well, and he'd circle back from time to time to check in. We also ended up running at times near a couple of other guys, Dallas and Chris. (Thanks for saying hi, Chris, and for sharing that you read the blog. Hi there!)

I was blown away when Melissa told me about halfway through that we'd be running a 9:50-10:00 pace. We also were totally pushing to run up the hills. I didn't walk at all until a steep hill in the last couple of miles. AND we talked pretty much the whole time.

It was definitely a great workout, and it was fun to meet some new people. I've started running with the East Nasty group as well on Wednesdays and plan to keep doing that. I didn't really get to have a good experience there this week, but I'm hopeful to have more fun in the coming weeks. (Long story I'm not sharing on the blog.) There are a lot of people my age in that group, and everyone hits up 3 Crow Bar after... so that should be a fun part of each week. I really love the social aspect running, and it's time for me to be more proactive about meeting people through it.

The 16 miles we ran yesterday are pretty much the first 16 miles of the Monkey marathon. It definitely helped me prepare for the race. Not only did I get excellent hill training on the actual race hills, I also figured out that I probably need to start with an 11:00 minute mile pace. When I finished 16 yesterday, I could have kept going but there's no way I could have kept at the 10:00 minute mile pace. And I may let myself walk up the steeper hills instead of pushing up them. No sense trying to be an overachiever on race day.

I'm also wondering what I've gotten myself into. 10 more miles out there will be TOUGH. But I'm looking forward to it.

Easier running week this week, and then I pick it up again next week. That marathon will be here before I know it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nothing

"I thought I would feel extreme pain... instead, I feel nothing." - Carrie Bradshaw

I'm not really a huge Sex and the City fan, but I've seen all the episodes and the first movie...

And I watched the movie again back in mid-August...

And when she said that line, I understood for the first time ever in my life what she meant....

And it was surreal.

But I wonder sometimes if that happens as a part of avoidance (should you choose to indulge in that for a little while), and one can only stay distracted for so long.

And then? The extreme pain.



Monday, October 18, 2010

Race Report: The Middle Half

On Saturday, I ran in The Middle Half for the fourth year in a row. (I've run in it every year they've had it!) I had SO much fun (and had some interesting moments), and managed to finish with another new half marathon PR of 1:52:16, a little faster than the PR I set three weeks ago of 1:53:57 in the Nashville Women's Half.

I spent the night with my parent's on Friday so that I wouldn't have to get up as early and drive as far on Saturday morning. My sister would be running as well - her very first half marathon! We drove to Murfreesboro, and we found her before heading toward the start line.

I ran into a few friends as soon as I got there.

One of my sister's friends was also running in her first half.

We lined up, and I realized that I felt zero nerves whatsoever. I knew that I wanted to try to run another PR, but I just felt really excited. After a few minutes, the gun fired and they played Lady Antebellum's "I Run to You" as we all started to cross the start line. I LOVED that they chose that song to kick us off.

If you look closely, you can see me smiling and waving.

It's a little crowded for the first mile or so. I just tried to take it easy and allow my legs some time to find a groove. I hadn't run all week due to my work trip, and I could tell that they were well-rested AND a little heavy. I felt them loosen up by the end of mile 2, and I had been hitting around 8:35 for both of the first two miles. I knew this wasn't fast enough to break 1:50 (my ultimate goal), but I also hadn't trained to truly attempt it.

Pretty soon, we were three miles in and I saw my parents and friend Erin cheering me on.

One of the things I love about this race is that it's all around the MTSU campus. It's fun running up there again since it's my college stomping grounds. I also trained for my very first marathon during my last semester of college, so it's neat racing on roads that I once used on training runs.

The first part of the race is really cool because you run down Main Street past all the historic homes, over to the Oaklands Mansion and then also around the square. They had a drum line playing on the square, and I made a note that this was such a cool idea and that maybe I should see about getting one out to the 5K I'm helping to plan.

Pretty soon, we were crossing the 10K mats and waving at my parents and Erin again. I was managing to keep around an 8:35ish pace and had run into my friend Tish. We opted to not talk much since we knew we were pushing the pace, but it was nice to have her near me.

One of the other things I love about this race? There are several opportunities where you go out and back and get to pass the other runners ahead/behind you. I got to see almost everyone I knew running and wave at them.

The only unfortunate thing about this race is that it can get a little dull toward the final miles. There are a lot more long stretches down less than interesting roads, but I just turned on my music and tried to focus on staying steady without overdoing it. The last thing I wanted was to go too hard in these middle miles and fall apart at the end.

Before I knew it, we saw the family again and were heading toward the mile 10 marker. Somewhere around here Tish decided to hang back, and I decided to try to start picking it up.

I managed to pass a lot of people in the last 3 miles. I really picked it up at the mile 12 marker and ran the last mile in 8:10. I didn't have a lot of steam left at this point, but as I entered into the track stadium I saw Wayne (guy I used to work with) and he cheered for me and gave me the boost I needed to sprint the last 200 yards to the finish.

I am totally making my ugly "push it to finish but not so hard that I throw up in front of all these people" face. On the inside, I was so excited because I knew I had a new PR in the bag.

1:52:16.

I crossed the line, and I immediately bent over and put my hands on my knees. This was mostly to catch my breath, but it was also because I was questioning whether or not I might vomit.

Apparently, I must have looked a little green. One of the men volunteering zeroed in on me and was immediately at my side insisting I take his arm so he could walk me along. Part of me felt a little silly because I knew that I was fine, but another part of me was kind of glad to have someone to partly hold me up while I finished catching my breath and focused on not throwing up.

I got a water bottle and my medal, and then I thanked him and exited. I walked back to the corner to say hi to Wayne. He killed his PR and ran a 1:39:something. I cheered for a few people I knew and then made my way back around to find my family.

My sister did awesome in her first half, finishing in 2:07:28!

Our high school cross country and track coach also ran (and beat me by like 3 minutes! I had seen his son and wife cheering at one point, and the son told me, "there's an old man up ahead you need to catch!" but I just couldn't do it!). We were glad to grab a photo with him. He's definitely why we both learned to love running.

I was excited to get photos with some other friends who ran or came to watch. It's always fun catching up with people at races.





After hanging out for a bit (and not eating the BBQ because that's the LAST thing I want after a race), we decided to head to IHOP for breakfast. Yum.

I ended up finishing 16 out of 162 in my age group, which I'm pretty excited about. I was 81 out of 929 women, and 346 out of 1781 overall. Not too shabby.

I'm not totally sure when I got fast enough to maintain an 8:35 average for a half. I think part of it is that I haven't been overdoing it in training, and I take a little extra time off here and there. I also haven't really been putting a lot of pressure on myself to reach any certain goals. I've kind of just been running lately to have fun and to keep myself busy. Maybe the speed is coming along now because I'm more relaxed.

I couldn't nap for some reason, so I watched The Blind Side (love that movie) and then went with my family and grandma to Loveless Cafe for my mom's birthday dinner. I crashed HARD at like 10pm last night. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day and a great reminder of the things I love about running... sharing it with family and friends, socializing at races, smiling when I know I reached another goal...

It's a good thing, this running.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Update on Mel's Life

Things have been a little hectic around these parts, but most of it has been a really good kind of busy.

Here are some updates on my world, bullet style:
  • I bought a Nintendo Wii. I'm a total fan of playing video games, and I plan to put a few for the system on my Christmas list.
  • I finished season 4 of Dexter not long ago, and it drives me a little crazy it airs on Showtime. I probably won't watch season 5 until it's over and on DVD.
  • I went to St. Louis for a big part of this past week for work. I wasn't really in St. Louis proper much, but it was fun to get out of my normal routine and go somewhere and do something a little different. Plus, I traveled with a gal from work that I consider a friend... so it was fun for us to have some time to hang out.
  • Running has been a little back and forth. My training hasn't been exactly what it should be, but I ran my 14th half marathon yesterday and got another PR of 1:52:16. Race report to come, and I'm excited that I've been getting closer to breaking 1:50. I won't be running another half for speed for several months, so I'll have to table that goal for a bit and be happy with the PR. (I'm of course thrilled!)
  • A friend and I had a girl's night at The Melting Pot not long ago. It was such a fun evening with such yummy food, and we wore pretty dresses. I need to do more of that kind of thing more often.
  • I saw The Social Network, and I really enjoyed it. I was surprised at how much humor was laced into the script. Honestly, I think Mark Zuckerberg is painted as a pretty quick-witted character in this movie. Granted, the whole thing is just a version of what may or may not have happened... so I took everything with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, I walked out kind of liking the guy.
  • I keep thinking that the marathons I'm running this fall are forever away, but the first one is only a little over a month away.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Keith and Nicole Sighting... Minus One

I've claimed Nashville as home all my life, but that was mostly because no one had heard of the small city about 20 minutes from downtown that I actually lived in.

So I've technically been a Nashville resident for a little over 3 months now, and I've had my second celebrity sighting. You may recall I saw Taylor Swift in Whole Foods 2 weeks after I moved to my new place.

And I've seen other fairly famous people and have met a few around here even before I moved into the city...

But the one thing I've been waiting on was my Keith and Nicole sighting. Most Nashvillians have had one, or they have at least seen Keith Urban around before he was famous and/or before he married Nicole Kidman.

Today a bunch of us ran the 11.2 out at Percy Warner Park. When we hit 9-mile hill, a few of the group ran on ahead while Liz and I slowed down to walk up the last little bit. (Don't judge if you don't know about 9-mile hill. I felt my heart pounding in my throat.)

We found everyone else standing at the top, along with two other women. As we all started running, Liz pointed out that one of the women had been Nicole Kidman. I took a quick peek back, and sure enough, it was her.

She ended up running behind us for a while, but she turned around before she ever caught up. When we were all finished and stretching, she and the other woman drove by on their way out. One of the guys waved, and she waved back.

Nothing super exciting, but it was pretty neat to see her. By the way, that woman is so tall and thin!!! We were talking about how there have been baby bump rumors, but we can say for sure there was no bump to be seen. She is super skinny. It was fun to see her out running the hills!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Putting It Into Words

Henry Miller wrote, "The best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature."

Taylor Swift writes songs about the boys who have done her wrong and broken her heart.

Justin Timberlake sings, "What goes around comes around."

Someday I'm going to fulfill a dream I've had since I knew how to write and knew what books are... I'm going to write a book.

And this journey of life I'm on? It's already providing some pretty good writing material.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Seeing a Ghost

Last Thursday night, I joined a crew of my friends for dinner at The Local Taco and the Jars of Clay show at Live on the Green. It's such a fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening, and we had a total blast.

But I saw a ghost.

I was sitting on the blanket, laughing with friends about who knows what... and then I looked up and saw him.

The guy I dated for three years. The guy I hadn't seen or spoken to since April 2007 when we ran into each other around mile 12 of the Country Music Marathon (random, I know.) A guy that I rarely ever think about any more other than the occasional time when I reference that time from my past.

We were together a long time. We had made plans. We had looked at rings. I joke now that we were engaged to be engaged.

I learned a lot from that relationship, and I'm certain that I'm a better woman and going to be a better wife someday because of it.

But it still felt like a ghost to look up and see him.

He didn't see me. Honestly? It's probably better that way. I've always felt like we could have a polite conversation if we ran into each other. But really, he's a stranger to me now. I'll always hope that he's doing well and having a good life, but I don't need to know about it.

It's weird... I'm still decent friends with pretty much every guy I've ever dated. But not him. I think there was just too much depth to the relationship to know how to be even mere acquaintances.

It's sad to spend all that time investing in someone and then it all ends and there's nothing more to it. I'll always have some good memories and will forever be thankful for what that relationship taught me, but it certainly means little to me now.

I looked at him, and I saw a ghost. A reminder of the past. But in the end, someone who I don't know anymore... someone who doesn't know me... someone that I can hardly remember what it was like to spend so much time with.

He walked out of sight, and I turned back to my friends. I may still be single, and I may hate that sometimes... but in the end, it's right that I wasn't there with him on this night at this concert at this point in life.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Race Report: Shelby Bottoms Boogie 15K

Yesterday morning I ran in the Shelby Bottoms Boogie 15K in East Nashville. I ran in this race last year, so I was excited to do it a second time and to see if I could beat my time from last year.

I woke up to find it was like 45 degrees outside. I'm not totally sure how we went from 90s less than 2 weeks ago to this, but it definitely makes for better racing weather. I headed out to the race, picked up my really cute shirt and bag, and then got ready for the start. I saw a few familiar faces, but there wasn't really anyone there that I knew.

As I looked around, I realized that there is another way you can tell seasoned runners from the newbies... we're the ones standing around a start line in 45 degree weather wearing shorts and a t-shirt or tank top. I was definitely cold at first, but as I got into the run I was glad I didn't have on long sleeves and pants like some of the others.

I took off and felt pretty comfortable pretty quickly. I settled into a happy pace, trying to make sure I felt lose and that I wasn't getting out of breath. We haven't had much cool weather yet, so my lungs were burning just a bit.

When I saw my first mile was 8:34, I was kind of surprised. I didn't really feel like I was running that fast, and I wondered about hanging on to it. Miles 2 and 3 were 8:28 and 8:30, and I started to realize that I might really be able to keep it up.

Somewhere along the way, I noticed that there was another gal about my age nearby. We were definitely pushing each other, and we ended up running side by side for a bit. Had we not both been listening to music, I certainly would have said hello. Instead, I told myself I'd definitely thank her later for keeping me going.

Miles 4, 5 and 6 were more around 8:20. It made me a little nervous to find myself getting a bit faster. I still think I was unsure that I could hang onto it. I honestly think the biggest reason why I'm running so well lately and killing my PRs is because I've had some emotion/energy that I'm channeling into these races.

Honestly? I was feeling pretty good. This photo was taken somewhere around mile 6-7 ish on the course. The red shirt in the background is the one that was pushing me to go harder.

I hit both mile 7 and 8 in 8:08. I couldn't believe I was still getting faster. I was ready to be done at this point, but I knew I had to hang on for 1.3 miles. I kept pushing as we started this loop around a pond to finish out the course.

Somewhere around this time another girl who could have been in my age group (I'm not sure) went flying by me. I was a little surprised because I hadn't seen her the whole time. I definitely think she had been holding back a lot if she was able to come sprinting past me with a mile to go and end up finishing way ahead of me. I also knew that there weren't all that many women in front of me, so I figured there was a good chance I might be able to place in my age group. It's always so hard to know... so many women I see could actually be in the one below or above mine. Hard to say.

I hit mile 9 in 8:12 and was ready to stop. I really pushed myself to run the last 0.3 in 2:25. I actually mustered up a bit of a sprint at the very end, and I instantly regretted it because there was an iffy 30 seconds when I thought I might throw up.

I finally caught my breath, and before I could find her the other gal found me. We got to chatting about how we both felt like we were really pushing each other.

After grabbing some fruit tea from Calypso Cafe (yum!), I hung out in the sun for a while to stay warm. Before long, the results were posted. I had placed 3rd in the 25-29 age group, yay!

I ended up chatting with my new running pal and actually felt a little bad that it turns out she is in my age group and I kept her from winning one of the cool water bottles they were giving as prizes. I met another gal as well while we waited on the awards, and it felt really good to be able to talk to two new people and connect a bit. That's part of what I love about running.

All in all, I finished in 1:17:16, a new PR by about 3 minutes. I was 3rd in my age group, 20th out of the women (how cool is that?!) and 101st overall out of about 300 something.

I'm certainly happy, and I love my water bottle.


Friday, October 1, 2010

101 in 1001 Update

New month - new update.

6. Run in at least eight races I’ve never run in before - I already finished this task, but I did run another new race when I ran in last weekend's Nashville Women's Half Marathon.

48. Mail a card/letter to someone four times a year (doesn't have to be the same person) - I had five awesome ladies join my Run for Mercy team in last weekend's Nashville Women's Half Marathon, so I sent them all a card to thank them.

63. Sell anything I can that I no longer need - I got rid of a few more things I didn't need at a yard sale at my grandma's house this month.

68. Go to three concerts per year - I've gone to Live on the Green twice this month. First, I saw Five for Fighting and Tonic. Then, I saw Sixpence None the Richer and Jars of Clay.

84a. Try 10 new beers in the States - During a much needed happy hour with a friend, I tried the New Belgium Sunshine. The waiter said "here you go sunshine" when he brought it to me. I really enjoyed the beer and the name.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - I never actually watched a movie this month, but I've flown through the DVDs of Dexter, which is way more than a movie. Totally counts.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I read For Better, For Worse by Carole Matthews. It was your typical piece of chick lit. It was a bit predictable and not something I'd read again, but it was a light and fun read.