Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas - Bullet Point Style

My Christmas season has been a busy one, so please humor me and enjoy hearing the highlights in bullet point style.
  • My last day of work until January was Tuesday. SO awesome to get a Christmas break!!!
  • I cut about 3 inches off my hair. It wasn't a lot, but it's enough to feel like it was a bit of a change.
  • I also got a massage. It. was. AWESOME.
  • We had a family dinner at this amazing Polynesian restaurant we have in town called the Omni Hut. So good. So different from anything else. We usually only go about once a year because it's a bit pricey and more of a special occasion kind of place.
  • We had another family dinner on Thursday night. Lasagna was involved as that is what we have every year at this particular dinner.
  • I bought Just Dance 2 for the Wii. This ended up being a good decision. Two of my girlfriends joined my family for dinner on Christmas Eve, and we had a blast playing it and MarioKart.
  • Christmas morning with my parents, sister and grandma was quite nice. We woke up to SNOW!!!!! I have never seen snow on Christmas, so I was pretty excited even though it wasn't very much. It was still pretty.
  • I got some nice gifts this year: some running gear, some dress pants, a few sweaters, some scarves, some money, two Target gift cards, and a few other random things. So thankful.
  • One of my coolest gifts is that my mom surprised me with a scrapbook of the first year of my life. SO fun to see all my baby pictures in an album!
  • It snowed all day on Christmas, so there was actually a decent bit when we went out to the family Christmas dinner. It's still not enough to play in, but I've really loved seeing it while listening to Christmas music. It feels right.
  • I did go for a run last week with a friend. We ran on Belle Meade Boulevard, a street known around here for having some of the more expensive homes in Nashville. It's a popular spot for runners as well. It was neat to run out there around dinner time and see all the homes with Christmas lights. Other than that, I have not been running. Rest has continued to feel like the way to go as I gear up for the Goofy Challenge.
I hope you all had as nice and warm of a holiday season as I have had so far!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I know that doctors just love it when we runners self-diagnosis our ailments.

At the same time, we runners would rather self-diagnose than go see a doctor.

I've been having an ache in my butt (the left side to be specific) ever since the Flying Monkey Marathon in November. It doesn't hurt... it just aches. Most of the time, I don't feel it... but every now and then when I'm running it'll turn up.

So... I've 98% sure that I've got a little piriformis syndrome happening. I really felt this was confirmed when I was sitting in a chair yesterday and noticed that the area that flares up sometimes was tingling. This is apparently one of the symptoms.

Am I worried? No. Sure, it's annoying... and I know that it needs rest as treatment. So I'm resting a bit. I'm as trained as I'm going to be to go run this Goofy thing in a few weeks, so I figure it's more sensible to log a few gentle, short runs here and there and rest a bit than to try to get all gung ho with heavy training right now.

Part of me feels like I need to run a few more miles than I'm planning between now and Goofy, but since this is acting up a bit I feel like giving myself more rest is more helpful.

Quite frankly, I don't have time to run more than this anyways with all the holidays festivities.

So that's the diagnosis and that's the plan! And maybe I'll try to do better about some at-home yoga and stretching to kind of work things out in that area. Plus, I've booked a massage for tomorrow! I feel like babying it a bit will be the best thing for now.

I really can't believe it's almost time for Goofy. I didn't really train the way I intended, but I'm feeling mostly prepared. It'll be a fun experience no matter what!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Enjoying the Season

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in a post of Christmas past, but my all-time favorite Christmas movie has always been Santa Claus the Movie.

If you don't know what I'm talking about (or if you think I mean the one with Tim Allen), click here to see what I mean and if it brings back any memories for you.

This movie used to come on every year on Christmas Eve, but I don't think I've seen it on tv in years. Never fear - I found it on DVD quite a while back so that I can watch it each year.

I've had it on tonight as I've been wrapping presents and making cookies for a party I'm going to tomorrow and getting excited about only having two more days of work before Christmas break... and even though I know exactly what happens and can anticipate the cheesy jokes, I still love it.

I think that this movie illustrates what I always pictured when I thought of the North Pole. And Santa Claus. And elves. Even with watching as an adult, it stirs up a sense of nostalgia regarding what I believed as a child.

I sometimes think that the newer Christmas movies just aren't as good as the old ones like this one... of course, this one was made in 1985 when I was 2, so it's truly a movie of my time. But I also love the truly old ones like Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas.

I think that sitting and watching these movies while baking and wrapping presents is a big part of what makes it "feel" like Christmas for me. I've really been enjoying my evening.

I've been busy attending Christmas parties and making plans with friends who are in town for a few days and planning for an upcoming trip. It's definitely a fun time, and I have to say that so far it's been one of the more enjoyable Christmas seasons that I've had in a few years.

Oh, and I went for my first post-Huntsville run today. I just did a gentle 5.5 miles or so at about a 10:00 pace. I felt pretty good, though I have a nagging ache in my butt that I suspect could be a touch of piriformis. I don't intend on running a ton between Huntsville and Goofy. I'll do some short runs here and there, but I don't think more mileage will really do much other than tire me out at this point. I want to keep my legs loose but fresh. I can't believe it's only a few weeks away!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rocket City Pictures

I got a few more pictures from my cousin of me at the Rocket City Marathon.

Here's me and my cousin's husband:

This photo was right at the start. I noticed my cousin off to the side and waved, and she was able to snap the photo at just the right moment. I'm not going to lie... I kind of like seeing the definition in my leg here. I feel like when you're in your body, you don't really get to see the effects of all the running the same way as an outsider. Photos kind of help you to step outside and take a look, and it's nice to see that my legs are looking strong.

These next two photos are right around the half marathon mark. I did still feel as happy as I look.

It's funny - somewhere during the race Matt and Liz commented on how I always look so happy in my race photos. I'm not always smiling the whole race, but I do turn it on for the cameras because even if I don't feel awesome at that moment I'm still doing something I love. And that makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Race Report: Rocket City Marathon

This past Saturday was the second marathon in my three marathons in 3 months adventure. Matt, Liz and I headed down to Huntsville, AL to run in the Rocket City Marathon. Matt's wife Maureen was so awesome and drove us!

We got up early Saturday morning and left around 5am. I had planned to try to snooze, but I had too much adrenaline. We were being pretty chatty (and we later realized this was a mistake as we had shared our best stories in the car instead of saving them for mile 21) and were there before we know it. Well, only after driving through some pretty interesting parts of Alabama. If you've never spent much time in the south, let me just say that Alabama is a whole different kind of southern than what we have here in Nashville.

We got checked in and used a real bathroom in the hotel lobby before heading out to the start line. There was a chill in the air, but it ultimately ended up being the perfect temperature for the whole race. I wore capris, a long sleeve top and gloves and found myself to be comfortable the entire time.

My cousin-in-law Mark was there running his first full, and I managed to find him and my cousin (his wife) and another friend who came to watch. It was fun to see them before the race and snap a quick picture. I need to get it from her as well as the one she got of me near the halfway mark. Mark went on to run a 3:39! He says he's a one and done, but I'm hoping to convince him to do another and try to break 3:30. Peer pressure is awesome among runners, ha.

Here's the gratuitous pre-race start line photo of Matt, Liz and me.

I managed to find my pal Chris at the start line - he was running his first full marathon! I never got to see him again, but he went on to run a 3:43. Pretty awesome! (Oh, and forgive my sleepy eyes. Did I mention I worked a benefit until 11pm the night before? In heels?)

Before we knew it, the cannon fired and we were off. Yes, I said cannon. Welcome to Alabama. :)

We started out and just ran whatever we felt. After the first few miles, I realized we were naturally running a 9:30 pace. As the early miles went by, we were staying pretty consistent and feeling good in that general territory. I didn't want to get my hopes up too early, but it was pretty exciting to be running so well. I'll admit - I haven't run much at all since the Flying Monkey Marathon 20 days before, so I really had no idea how I'd feel.

I wore my shirt from that marathon and found several other fellow monkey runners out there. It's always neat to chat with people during a marathon, but it was especially cool to find all these other people who had run the same race as the three of us a few weeks before.

This next photo was taken around the mile 7 mark. I didn't realize it was being taken or else I would have smiled!

Unfortunately, miles 12-17ish are down the side of this one long, flat and straight road. There was a bit of wind, and this long stretch got really boring, really fast. We did run into some familiar faces from the Nashville Striders and East Nasty, so it was nice to get to chat a bit. We decided that there are probably more people from Nashville in this race than there are people from Huntsville. I did see my cousin and friend somewhere around the half, and it reminded me that it really is an adrenaline booster to see a familiar face when you're out there.

We finally turned off the long road, and I realized we were slowing down. I had toyed with the idea of trying to run a 4:10 and PR, but I knew around this time that I just couldn't hang on to it. My legs were tired and reminding me I'd run a marathon 20 days before, and I knew it was too ambitious to try to push for a PR. Honestly? I was going to be happy to just finish. That's really been the goal for doing all these races so close together anyways.

This next photo was snapped somewhere near mile 18-19. I can't really remember any more. I know I was feeling tired and had reached that point where I'm just looking for the next mile marker or water stop. The guy in the blue shirt (Paul) also ran the Flying Monkey. The gal in the white (Mary) is a new friend we picked up around this point and enjoyed chatting with for a few miles. It really helps to keep you going to find someone new to talk to in the late miles.

We did reach a point where there was no more talking, except for the occasional "this sucks" or "I'm ready to be done." One thing I am really proud of though is that we ran the whole time with the exception of short walk breaks at water stops to drink a little. I'm not opposed to walking, but it still feels good to know that I didn't walk. (I don't count the water stop walk breaks as truly walking. I just need to walk to actually get the fluids in and not spilled all over me.)

The last 3-4 miles felt like an eternity. We had all three spread out just a little bit, and I know I just wanted to get it over with. I wasn't really in pain - my legs just felt tired and heavy. I wanted to sit down and not be running any more.

Before long, I saw the mile 25 marker and tried to pick it up a bit. I had slowed down earlier to more of a 10:30 pace, but I ran the last mile in 9:40. I saw mile 26, I rounded the corner, and then I made it across the finish line as they said my name and city/state. It's always cool to hear your name!

I thought I felt fine as I crossed (and I remember thinking to try to smile and not stop my watch since I get my race line photo for free and wanted to not look awful in it), but I was a little dazed as soon as I started walking. They wrapped a blanket around me, and I noticed my friend off to the side. I was trying to let him know I'd come over to say hi while this other guy was trying to give me my medal. Then, I was looking to find out who had the hats. It was just funny... it was like my brain wasn't processing everything right. I got to chat with my friend a minute, and then it was time for the finish photo.

I had run my second fastest marathon ever in 4:19:08. I also ran a course PR (I've run this race two other times before).

Needless to say, I was pleased. Considering that I just ran a marathon, I'll take a course PR and second fastest time ever.

One of the things I love about this race is that it's only $5o and you get a nice shirt, medal, hat and your finish line photo. I can't wait for my picture to be mailed to me!

We headed inside to change clothes (it was cold when you weren't running, and some rain was moving in), and then we grabbed some food.

I think we look pretty good when you consider we just ran our second marathon in 3 weeks.

We headed to a little place in town called The Nook for a post-race beer. I tried something new, and I can't remember the name... but it was good!

We headed home in the rain (so glad it didn't rain on us during the race like we were afraid it might!), and I took a 2-hour nap. Then, I totally got pasta and cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory (thank you Curbside To Go) and went to bed and slept another 13 hours. I was exhausted!

So two down, one and a half to go! I'm glad I have 4 weeks until the Goofy Challenge. I'm taking this entire week off before I start a little gentle running. At this point, I'm as trained as I'm going to be. No sense overdoing it.

I actually feel pretty good. There are some minor aches and pains, but nothing crazy. I'm kind of tired and hungry all the time, but that's to be expected.

I'm nervous about the Goofy, but I'm also really excited. I know it's going to be slow, but I think it's going to be a blast!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter Came Early

I ran the Rocket City Marathon on Saturday. I promise there will be a full race report with pictures, but for now I'll just say that I ran my second fastest marathon ever in 4:19:08. I'll take that. I felt pretty good until the last few miles when my legs were quick to remind me I had just run a marathon (and a very hilly one at that!) just 3 weeks before. Nonetheless, I finished and am recovering well. Stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, allow me to share some photos. We got some snow in Nashville. It wasn't enough to play in or getting really excited about, but it was pretty and messed up the roads for the day.

Tucker likes watching the flakes come down.

This is out the window before it really started to accumulate.

My parents were out of town so I had their cat for the weekend. After a while, both cats grew tired of watching snowflakes. I found them curled up on the guest bed (and my clean laundry!) snug as bugs.

It's cold up in here. 18 and feels like 8! This is unseasonably cold (and snowy) for December in Nashville. On the bright side, it actually feels a bit more like Christmas now that we have winter weather.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mental Prep

I'm having a hard time getting my head in the game.

It's not really even about the marathon coming up on Saturday. Sure, I'm a little nervous about it. I know I just ran a marathon and it went fine... but I also just ran a marathon and have never tried to run a second one quite so soon after completing one. I have been having the usual mental battles... one minute I feel confident because I know I didn't run that hard or fast at the last marathon, so I should be able to handle this one just fine. The next minute I'm unsure that I won't feel tired come Saturday because it's only been 3 weeks since the last one.

Of course, I've hardly run since the last one. On one hand I think this is good because it means I've allowed my legs to recover and body to rest. On the other hand, it raises questions in my head about whether or not I'm sufficiently trained.

But ultimately, my mental concerns are about the Goofy Challenge coming up next month. Suddenly I'm not so sure I've been training appropriately. Can I really run a half marathon AND a full marathon in the same weekend?

It's really a silly question that I already know the answer to - of course I can. It might not be fast. In fact, I've never intended for it to be fast.

I think it's just the mixture of excitement and fear of trying something new. I'm pumped to be going after this goal, but I'm also nervous because I've never done these things before.

I don't want to sell myself short, but I also don't want to overdo it and hurt myself.

In the end, I know I've been listening to my body. I know I'll run this marathon on Saturday and finish. I'll allow some time to recover. I'll get some runs in. And then I'll go to Disney and do something finish something goofy.

I guess it's just the unknown... not really knowing if my body can handle this, yet believing that it can.

The marathon can be intimidating, but in the end the mental game is the biggest part of it.

I'm choosing to believe that I can do this.

The only person I'm trying to prove anything to right now with all of these races is myself. I know that when I cross that Goofy finish line that I'll be thrilled, no matter how hard the journey might end up being to get there.

I'll admit that part of me doesn't feel like I've been sufficiently training, but there's not much I can do about it now other than to count this weekend's marathon as my last long run and then go after the goal.

I know it might sound crazy, but all of this mental back and forth is part of what keeps marathon running exciting. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Random Sharing

  • I have finished my Christmas shopping. It feels awesome. I still need to grab a few things that I left at my parent's house and finish wrapping it all, but now I can go to the mall for fun if I want and not to find anything specific.
  • I had my 4th Annual Christmas Party on Saturday night, and it was so fun. We ate. We drank. We played Taboo. We raced MarioKart on the Wii (yay for 4 wheels!). The evening ended with me feeling all warm and fuzzy. There are good people in my life, and I'm glad they were able to all come together for a fun evening.
  • I started a new position at work last week. Things have been so crazy lately that I forgot to mention it. It's definitely a fun move, and I'm enjoying the transition. I'm much happier getting out of administrative work! I'm handling cash receipts and our donor database. Good times.
  • I ran around 8ish miles on Saturday. It was my first run since Thanksgiving since I didn't have much time to run in the midst of all the family stuff surrounding my aunt's death. Honestly, the break was nice.... but my legs felt heavy.
  • I'm running a marathon on Saturday. The time since my last one on November 21 passed more quickly than I expected. I hope I'm ready.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Love of Family

Last Friday, one of my (many) aunts passed away unexpectedly.

Death is never easy to accept, but it's particularly difficult when you don't see it coming.

Over the past week, I've spent countless hours with my family. There's quite a few of us, and I grew up surrounded by them. We all lived in the same little area of the county. I was always a little caught off guard when I'd meet someone who would say they have aunts, uncles and cousins that they had never even met. I didn't know that people had family they hardly knew.

I've seen all the aspects of grief played out in the past weeks.

There have been tears.

There's been shock.

There's been anger.

There's been disbelief.

There's been story sharing and laughter.

And eating. Lots of eating. People in the south know how to feed others in times like this. The food just kept coming. We'd eat. There'd be more. It was like the never ending Thanksgiving dinner.

It's been a rough week. It's been a long week. It's been hard seeing my uncle and cousins upset. It's been sad to lose someone I've known my whole life. It's reminded me of losing my grandpa last November. And my grannie last May. And my pop pop 10 years ago today. (I'm getting a little tired of funerals. I'm ready for more weddings and babies!)

But it's also been encouraging to see the family come together. We're a large family. Like any family, we've had some ups and downs. But in the end, we love each other and know how to come together.

It's hard to know how people could deal with these kinds of things without the help of family to lean on.

As hard as the whole thing has been, I'm glad to see so much love in my family. For that, I am thankful.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

101 in 1001 Update

The months are really flying by these days! Here's what I knocked out in November.

2. Run at least five marathons - I ran in the Flying Monkey Marathon here in Nashville (I'm starting to think I wasn't being as ambitious as I should have been when I set the goal at five.)

6. Run in at least eight races I’ve never run in before - I finished this one a while back, but I'm still running new races. Flying Monkey was another new one.

8. Get a massage (or other special reward!) after every completed marathon - Massage after Flying Monkey, albeit a brief one as it was free. I've got to go simple on the marathon rewards since I'm doing three in three months.

20. Go to a Nashville Predators game - I made it to another one of these.

84a. Try 10 new beers in the States - I got close to finishing this one. I tried the Yazoo Seasonal and the Sweetwater Blue. Both are excellent.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - I saw the new Harry Potter movie Thanksgiving night. It's awesome!

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I read John Grishman's The Pelican Brief.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding Your Passion is Like a Marathon

Today I am sharing a guest post by Sam Davidson. He is a writer, entrepreneur, and dreamer who believes that the world needs more passionate people. To help people find and live their passion, he has written 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need. He is the co-founder of Cool People Care and Proof Branding, and lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter. I read his blog and am pretty excited about his book. This post is part of his blog tour for the book, and you can learn more about the book itself here. I definitely recommend checking it out!

I've done two marathons in my lifetime (this pales in comparison to Melanie's eight). Each was easier than finding my passion. Let that be a lesson to you - both about marathons and passions.

It took me nearly four years to find my passion and turn it into my profession. A fair warning: not everyone needs to turn their passion to their job; it just worked out that way for me. But, everyone does need to find his or her passion.

I firmly believe the world needs more passionate people.
This is why I wrote 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need. It's a guide to finding and living your passion that shows you how getting rid of what isn't important can help you discover what truly is. Likewise, it works in reverse - once you find what matters above all else, you can begin to let what isn't fall to the wayside.

I don't think you'll discover your passion over coffee one afternoon. The journey is too important to be over with in a single sitting. The journey is also too complex to run its course during the time it takes to watch a movie and eat dinner. Your passion is your life's work and pursuit; why do we think we can capture it quickly?

This is why they give out medals at the end of marathons. You've accomplished something. You trained. You spent much more time on this race than the three, four, or five hours it took to cover 26.2 miles. Something deeper went into it. You changed your diet, your eating habits, and your routine. You laid it on the line. You worked hard. You sacrificed.

Your passion demands the same.

In the book, I offer the reader six questions to help him or her discover his or her passion. Here are three of them:
- If I'm known for only one thing, what is it?
- What do I value?
- When do I feel fulfilled?

As you can see, answering these questions accurately isn't something than can be done quickly, nor should it be. These questions - and their answers - are meant to be lived with deeply in order to find an answer that is meaningful and true.

So - set out for this race, this journey of a lifetime. Take it one step at a time, but realize that you're in it for the long haul. It's worth it. Trust me.