Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye 2011

I have a confession... I haven't really been doing a lot of reflection on 2011 or resolution making for 2012 just yet.  Maybe it's because time seems to be flying by lately, and I just haven't had time to think much about it.

Regardless, I have to admit that it's been a mostly good year... but I also look back on 2011 as being a hard year.  Nonetheless, I feel like the year is ending on a positive note, and I'm looking forward to 2012.  It HAS to be a better year.

I did some fun stuff and some not so fun stuff this year...

In January, I ran the Goofy Challenge in Disney World.

I met a boy.  The boy went on to not be THE boy, but I consider him a good friend now after all that transpired this year.

I got to see my two best friends in Chicago in April.

I ran some other races.

I ran the Ragnar Relay from Madison, WI to Chicago in June and had an absolute blast.

I spent a week on the beach in Florida with my family and got to see the Harry Potter Wizarding World at Universal Studios.

I saw my two best friends again in Chicago when I went to run the marathon in October.

I ran the Flying Monkey Marathon again.

I met a boy, one that is causing me to feel pretty freaking lucky... I'm looking forward to seeing how things go there.

I have made some plans for some trips and races in early 2012.

And along the way, I've found myself surrounded by some of the most amazing people in my life.  I am so thankful that I've had friends and family support me along the way this year... people to be excited with me and have fun with me, people to be there in the moments that weren't as fun, etc.

I have a lot to be thankful for from this year, especially the new friendships I've made and the ones I've deepened over the course of the year.

There have definitely been some high points and low points over this year.  I'm hoping for some positive changes in 2012, and I definitely want to have a lot of fun. I have a feeling that there will be many more high points than low points this year.  I sure hope so anyways!

So in the words of The Counting Crows, "and there's reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.."

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

I hope that everyone has had a very merry Christmas this year!

It's definitely been a busy Christmas season for me... it seems like something was going on every day between all of the family gatherings, my sister's graduation, parties, and shopping.

Just before Christmas, the boy and I went to a tacky Christmas party.  Definitely a ton of fun!

On Christmas Eve, I insisted on my friend Erin joining us for dinner.  We had an awesome meal and enjoyed a quiet evening in with the family and our neighbors.  I plan on celebrating New Year's Eve with this girl, too!

Christmas ended up being a really nice day.  I had taken Tucker home with me to my parent's house, and he enjoyed running around with their two cats and playing with all the wrapping paper.

Dexter in particular found Christmas to be exhausting....

My sister and I are definitely spoiled, and we both got some nice presents.

I got to see the boy for a little bit before he heads out of town on a family vacation (excited for him, but also jealous!)

All in all, it was a pretty great Christmas season this year.  I ended up with some cool paintings of famous sights in Nashville that I can't wait to hang, and I also got a nice little collection of Vera Bradley items that will come in handy.

I love giving presents, and I think that all of my friends and family really loved their gifts this year.  It's always so fun for me to watch them open them.

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas!  I'm looking forward to a few days off work and celebrating 2012.  I know it's going to be a good year.  I'll have to start making some plans for some trips and races soon to tell you about!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Race Report: Santa Hustle Half Marathon

This weekend, I went with my two girlfriends Jenny and Andrea to run the Santa Hustle Half Marathon in Sevierville.  I haven't been to Gatlinburg in a few years, so I knew it'd be a fun weekend trip.  We headed out on Friday and found that our hotel room was quite nice.  We had opted to not stay at the Wilderness Lodge where the race was being held in an effort to save some change.  We made a good choice.

On Saturday, we went to get our race packets.  We were super excited about our Santa hat, beard and shirt.  It was going to be a blast to run in them the next day!

Then, we drove into Gatlinburg and had brunch at The Log Cabin.  They have amazing blackberry crepes.

We wandered around Gatlinburg for a while and checked out all of the little shops.  It was pretty cold, and I have been having some sinus issues.  I can't say I was in the mood to shop, but it was fun to roam around and hang out with the girls... and taking some photos.

We visited a cat store in Pigeon Forge that I remember going to a few years ago.  This sweet little cat climbed right in my lap when I knelt down to pet her!

We hit up the outlets, and I did buy a sweater at Banana Republic.  We grabbed a yummy dinner at Johnny Carina's before heading to our hotel to watch a movie and crash.

The next morning we donned our Santa apparel and met up with Andrea's sister who was running the 5K.

Everyone was wearing the Santa items so we took off in a sea of red!  Before long, we came to the first candy stop!

There were several candy and cookie stops along the race course in addition to the normal water/Gatorade/Gu stops.  No complaints here.  I even found a guy with a box of tissues once.  Since I still had a stuffy nose, I was excited about this!

We all agreed there was no reason to push ourselves.  We wanted to just run and have fun.  All three of us ran together and chatted for the first 5 miles or so.  The course was an out and back, and while there were a few long inclines, it really wasn't as hilly as I thought it might be.

Andrea and I ran the rest of the race together, talking and taking in the sights of Sevierville/Pigeon Forge... sights like this one...

The race actually went by pretty fast, and we crossed the finish line in 2:15:52.  I'll take that considering I haven't really been running much lately.

The medal had Santa on it!

All in all, it was a pretty fun event.  It's definitely the kind of race that I think is best to do with friends just for fun.  It was a great reason to get away to the Smokies and have some girl time for the weekend, too!

Monday, December 5, 2011

My 5th Annual Christmas Party

On Friday night, I held my fifth annual Christmas party for all of my friends.  This is my second year to do it in my apartment, and unfortunately I just don't have room here for the giant tree I bought when I lived in a house.  I was doing good to fit the 20 guests in my place. :)

It's always so much fun to get everyone together for a bit before the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.

We sat around and laughed and talked for most of the evening over our snacks and drinks.

We hung out a lot in the kitchen where all of the food was hanging out...

Oh yeah... there was a keg.  This is the first time I've ever had one at my party.  Everyone also brought some awesome snacks for sharing.

All night I kept saying how I should really have everyone over more than just once a year.  We all got to talking about having regular game nights starting soon.

One day, I hope to be able to have the kind of party where I take care of everything and have an awesome presentation instead of having to cram everyone and everything in my little apartment and ask everyone to bring something.

But for now?  This is pretty awesome.  I love being able to get everyone together!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

101 in 1001 Update

I honestly think I'm going to abandon the list soon... I've done pretty much everything I still care about or have plans to do the few that I still care about... things have just changed since I made the list, and I have decided I'm ok with that. So we'll see!

2. Run at least eight marathons -Well, I hit number 8 this month when I ran in the Flying Monkey Marathon.  Good times!

8. Get a massage (or other special reward!) after every completed marathon - I didn't really feel I deserved too much since this wasn't much of a race for me (more of a training run), but I did treat myself to a little shopping.

39. Learn more about how to start a business - I read several books last month and continued to check out some stuff to get some more knowledge. I'm definitely just brainstorming right now.

45. Give money to people who are fundraising at least 4 times a year - I love being able to support people and their causes.

68. Go to three concerts per year - I went to see Lady Antebellum at the Ryman.  It was awesome.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - This month I watched season 5 of Dexter.  It's not a movie, but I say a season of tv counts.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I read a book that a friend told me about called Why Men Marry Bitches.  It's bascially about how at the end of the day, guys really want a girl who is independent and not one to just go along with everyone he says and does.  It's been a nice reminder that I'm single because I won't settle for anyone who doesn't love me for me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Race Report: BoroDash 4-Miler

On Thanksgiving, I headed to Murfreesboro to run in the BoroDash 4-Miler.  I ran in the Boulevard Bolt for the past 5 Thanksgivings, but after reaching my goal of sub-40 last year I decided to retire from that event and try something new.

I've never run a 4-miler, so it would be an automatic PR for me.  I knew going into it to not have high expectations as my legs were still tired from the marathon that Sunday.

It was cloudy and cool, but I stayed pretty warm as I ran.  My legs definitely felt like lead and I was running slower at the end than I was at the beginning, but I had a strong finish. 

I ultimately clocked a 34:46, meaning an 8:42 average pace.  I was really surprised I did even that well!

Surprisingly, everyone got a medal!

I went home and convinced my parents that we should go have breakfast at Waffle House before I enjoyed a nice nap.

Later that night, I felt like I had definitely earned my Thanksgiving dinner!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Race Report: Flying Monkey Marathon

On Sunday November 20th, I ran in the 6th Annual Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon in Percy Warner Park here in Nashville.  This was my second year in a row to run it.

When Matt and his wife picked me up to head to the park, I made a comment that this just might be the last time I do it. The course includes over 3,000 ft in elevation - both up and down.  Sure, we train out there all the time... but that usually involves running the 11.2... not running it twice and then some.  There was also rain in the forecast.  It was cloudy, but it wasn't raining just yet.  Fortunately, it wasn't too cold (in the 60s) so I ran in my Marathon Maniacs tank top and some shorts.

Once we got to the start, there was a Marathon Maniacs group photo.  This race was one of the three I ran last year to qualify.

Matt, Amy, Liz and I do a lot of training together and planned to start the race and see how things went.  We are all Marathon Maniacs, so it was fitting that we were all running this crazy local race together.

Before long, it was time to start.  Liz quickly took off, but she has trained better than the rest of her so we were happy to see her go off to see what she could do.  Matt, Amy and I stuck together and started chatting and catching up on life. 

Around mile 2, it started raining.  I knew it was coming so I was prepared for it mentally.  I've run in the rain many times, but this was my first full marathon in the rain.  I hate running in a hat, but I had it on to keep the water out of my contacts and know that as long as my eyes were dry, I'd be ok.

The three of us chatted and realized after the first hour that the time was actually going by rather quickly.

The rain was pretty unrelenting, but we got lucky that it wasn't all that cold out when you were running.  I hardly noticed that I was soaking wet until after the race. 

We came up on the half marathon marker and all agreed that we were totally fine with running a 5-hour marathon like what we were on track to do.

We continued talking and letting the miles pass by, and we all agreed it seemed like we were seeing less of our fellow runners this year than we did last year.  I couldn't imagine running this race alone and was so thankful to have the company of Amy and Matt.

Around mile 19, we saw Matt's wife and grabbed some Twizzlers.  A few miles later our friend Andrea was working a water stop and had some more Twizzlers.  I have decided this is one of my favorite things to eat during a marathon.  A few miles from the end, I grabbed some Pringles at a water stop and decided they may be my second favorite thing to eat.  Or maybe I was just running slowly enough that I was starving and could handle something like those items.

Before long, we hit mile 25 and pushed our way to the finish.  It's crazy, but it's the first time that Amy, Matt and I have finished a full together.

We managed to finish in 4:54:58, just shy of that 5-hour mark we had been talking about at the half marathon point.

The rain did stop over the last 2-3 miles, but it picked back up again shortly after we finished.  This race is usually so fun to hang around after, but we were all too wet and cold to stick around for too long.

Oddly enough, we did manage to run the second half in about the same time as the first!  Our pace definitely fluctuates a bit with the hills, but it cracks me up we did the last mile in 9:31.  We were clearly ready to be done!

Later that evening, there was a post-race dinner at Mafioza's so we all went.  It's always fun to eat a TON of food and hang out with other runners and discuss the race.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Race Report: Mayor's Challenge 5K

Back on Sunday, November 13th, I ran in the Mayor's Challenge 5K here in Nashville.

Mayor Karl Dean has really been focusing on initiatives to help the people of Nashville get fit and healthy, and the 5K was being held on a Sunday afternoon downtown for FREE.

It turned out to be a sunny and warm day, but it was crazy windy!

Here is the boy and me before the race.

We were just running for fun, so we stayed together the whole time.  The course was super hilly, and due to the wind I had trouble even running downhill!

The finish was on a hill (lame), but we pushed it up and finished in 26:45.

It was a fun way to be involved in something positive here in Nashville, and we enjoyed seeing other friends out there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marathon #12

On Sunday, I'll be running the Flying Monkey Marathon... this is my second time to run it, and it'll be my 12th marathon.

Today, we got this email from the race director... Awesome.

"Oh dear.

It looks like it may rain. Doesn't it. And you have clicked refresh on weather dot com some 623 times over the past 3 days. But the forecast has not changed, has it. Oh dear. What are you gonna do?

This is what you're gonna do: you will come out Sunday morning and run the Monkey. Cripes people. It is just rain. What did you think Monkey would be? A walk in the park? No, it's the Monkey. You are supposed to suffer. For 26.2 miles. Maybe more. Rain? Meh. So you get wet. And after you finish, I expect you to stick around and enjoy the food and drink and camaraderie. Don't like getting wet? Put on a jacket.

Maybe it won't rain. But if it does, you will get to run "the year it rained at Monkey". How cool would that be? You got me kinda hoping it does.

Sunday. Plan to arrive before 7:30. Plan to start by 8am. Plan to complete the Monkey, regardless of weather. Earn your medal and shirts. And after you finish, plan to stick around eating the good food, drinking the good drink and hanging out with your fellow Monkeys. The party will go until 3 or so. And plan on celebrating the rain.

See you at packet pickup. You can punch me then.

Monkey is coming. Think Monkey.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Race Report: Ragnar Relay TN 2011

This past weekend, I ran in the Tennessee Ragnar Relay.  This was my second year to run this relay, and it was my third Ragnar event.  I think these kinds of events are really growing on me.  They are so much fun.

We spent the night in Chattanooga on Thursday, and we headed to the start line for our 9am start.  Here is the team and our awesome van drivers at the start of the race.

I was in van 2 this year to get a change of scenery.  Because of that, the start was a little anticlimatic.  We had quite a bit of time to kill until we would take over as the active van.  First, we went to Cracker Barell and had some coffee and breakfast.  Then, we made our way to Jasper, TN where the first major exchange was located.

We stopped at the CVS (one of few places in Jasper to stop for any reason), and a sheriff pulled up to ask us some questions about the race.  Several team members decided to have a little fun and pose for pictures by the car when he wasn't looking.  Another man walked up and actually had handcuffs and anklecuffs (I think we was a retired sheriff or something), and he offered to let us put them on for some funny pictures.

We headed to the major exchange and checked in for the safety meeting.  I volunteered to be the person to hold everything up during the meeting, so that made it a little less dull for me as I practiced my Vanna White skills. Then, I was able to catch up with a few people I knew on other teams who were still hanging out at the exchange.

Before long, we were finally taking over.  Our first runner was the brave soul who had to run all the way up Monteagle.  I was not envious of his leg.  While we waited at the top, I found what may be Jasper's main tourist attraction.

I was runner 10, so this meant I ran 4th in our van.  We finally rolled into Tracy City, and I started getting ready to take over and run my first 6.4 miles.  It was close to 4:30, so I had to go on and put on my vest and blinky light.  Fortunately, I'd finish the run before it really got dark.

One of our teammates had a magic wand, so she blessed me before my run.

And then I thought it'd be fun to take some photos with the eagle.  Before long, we saw Sandra running in.  I grabbed the slap bracelet, and I was off!

About 30 seconds later, I rounded a corner and found two medium-sized dogs who started barking and chasing me.  I started running faster and assumed they'd just kind of chased me for a second and back off.  Then I felt something in my calf.  I started yelling at them and running faster, and one of them kept jumping at my calf.  I felt teeth and screamed at the dogs, and they took off.  I got a little ways down the road and paused to check... I definitely had a scratch of some sort, but I was ok and just kept going.

I listened to my music and tried to enjoy the perfect running temperatures.  I had a bit of adrenaline from the whole dog biting me thing, and before long I was closing in on the exchange.  I managed to run an average 8:25 pace!  I guess dogs do make me run faster.  I had a few hills, but it wasn't terrible so that may have helped, too.

I told my team that I had two kills and that they were men.  We rejoiced.  Then I told them I had been bit by a dog.  We cleaned up the scratch with some alcohol pads (it was bleeding so it stung like crazy), and then put on some neosporin and a band-aid.  I was sure it'd be fine, and it made for a good story.  Battle wound so to speak.

It started getting dark, and we soon turned it back over to van 1.  We found an Italian place in Cowan, and we enjoyed a really delicious meal.  By this point, my team had started cracking jokes about whether or not I was going to start foaming at the mouth... or I'd sneeze and someone would tell me it sounded like a bark.  I think what I love most about relays is how your vanmates become like family.  I hadn't known any of them except one guy who was in my van in Chicago before the weekend, but now we're all old friends.

We were able to rest a bit, but then we took back over again in Lynchburg.  My second leg was 4.1 miles through Shelbyville around 3am.  It was eerily quiet and lonely out there, but I flew through it (and over the hills) and clocked an average 8:38 pace. I even had a couple more kills.  I'd been telling the team that the sooner we all ran, the sooner we got to sleep.  We all took that to heart!

We soon turned it back over to van 1, and we headed to a teammate's home near the next exchange to climb into beds and nap for two hours.  I woke up feeling ready to go.

We took back over again for the last time in Cool Springs.  I was ready to get my last run behind me, and before long we were at my exchange.We snapped some photos before I took off again...

I took over and set out on my last 6.1 miles.

Don't worry, I caught that girl right away.

My last leg was through the Belle Meade area.  It's not too far from where I live, and I run around there frequently. I was feeling strong for the first four miles, and when I passed my team in front of Percy Warner Park I was thankful we didn't have to run IN the park.

I started fading over the last 2 miles.  I had some tough hills in this leg, and it was almost 2pm on Saturday.  The temperature was very close to 70, and I was WARM.  I kept pushing, and I soon rolled into the exchange after getting a couple of kills and averaging a 10:00 pace.

We had two more runners to go.  It wasn't long before we sent the last one out and headed to the finish line on riverfront in downtown Nashville.

We soon saw our 12th runner, and we joined him to run across the finish line.  We did it!

We enjoyed some free pizza and beer, but we were all exhausted and ready to get home.  I think we looked pretty good considering we'd only slept about 2 hours in the past 34 or so hours.

I had SO much fun running in this event again.  Relays really are a blast.  It's definitely not about winning.  It's about getting out there and having fun while running and when you're hanging out with your team.  I have met so many new people from running these relays, and they are all so much fun and such a pleasure to know!

I crashed hard Saturday night, and then I took it pretty easy on Sunday.  Recovery from these events is a bit tougher for me than it is after a marathon.  I'm always just so exhausted from not sleeping... and hungry all the time!

On Monday, I found that my dog bite had bruised.  I went on over to the doctor just to be safe, and he thought it was healing nicely.  He did want to give me a tetanus shot since I hadn't had one in who knows how long, saying that there could be bacteria on the dog's teeth from chewing on things, etc. Now my arm is more sore than anything else!  I also don't think I'll ever have any trouble remembering when I got my last tetanus shot!