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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

10-Second Book Reviews

Gone Girl : I've read some complaints about this one because of the ending, which I can totally understand. Nevertheless, I loved this book. I don't normally read mysteries or thrillers, but Jezebel.com had a book club for like one month and this was the book they picked, so I decided to read it. I was even reading it during the weeks that my dad was hospitalized, and I still blew threw it super-fast, so that is saying something. There are quite a few twists and turns, some are predictable, some are not, and I just had to keep reading in order to figure out where it was going. Really loved this book.


Outlander: This was recommended to me, and I liked it, but not as much as I expected to. It's a time travel romance, where a woman living in 1940s UK travels back in time to Scotland in 1743. She falls in love, etc, etc. This book is LONG, and it's one of a crazy long series. I thought parts of it, especially the beginning, were too slow. Other parts were just too much sex (yes, that is possible).  The last third of the book picked up quite a bit and I ended up feeling like I wanted to go on and read the next one in the series, although I have yet to do so. I actually set Outlander aside so that I could read Gone Girl and then came back to it, so that shows how long and slow it was at first.



The Five People You Meet in Heaven: I've had this on my to read list for basically 5 years or so, or whenever it was on the NYT Best Seller List. I decided just to read it - my dad had just passed away and I thought that perhaps this one would be cathartic. It was short and it made me cry, but I don't know that I really felt like it changed my life or anything. Regardless, it was an easy and interesting read and I can understand how it made the best seller lists.




A Clash of Kings: I knew I needed to read the next Game of Thrones book, since I had finished watching the first season of the HBO series and Todd was bugging me to move on to the next season. I enjoyed the second book much more than the first, and I think it's a must-read if you're a fan of the HBO Series. There are just too many things that you don't get from the series that you get from the books - additional characters, more subplots, and a better understanding of all of the characters and families. There were a few big things that happened in this book (which you know about if you've seen Game of Thrones Season 2).

A Storm of Swords: After I finished Book 2, I just had to go on and start Book 3, especially because some elements of Book 3 showed up in the second season of Game of Thrones. This is my favorite of the books so far. There are SO many surprises and crazy things that happen - and (small spoiler alert) it contains the 3 of the worst weddings in fiction EVER. George RR Martin never ceases to amaze at how quick he is to kill off major characters. Seriously, just a crazy book. I haven't started book 4 yet, because I've heard it's awful, so I am putting it off. I'll probably start it in January.


The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing: I like to read about investing strategies, and the philosophies of the followers of John Bogle (founder of the Vanguard Group) is my personal favorite style of investing. I had already read one of Bogle's books, so this was just more to solidify some of his concepts even more. It's written by a bunch of his followers (also called "Bogleheads"), and I really liked it. Another good, solid, investing book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about smart investing. Topics covered include retirement, taxes, saving for college, and more.



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Saturday, December 1, 2012

How Exercising is Going Now That I'm Pregnant

I've always figured that exercise once I got pregnant was going to be a huge question mark. I know that every pregnancy is different, so I really had no idea what to expect. At my first appointment with my doctor when I was at 7 weeks, he basically cleared me for any exercise that I'm already doing, although I'm to avoid anything where I need to lie on my back after about 16 weeks. He seemed not at all worried or upset that I'd run the Wineglass Half Marathon during my 6th week. So, I've been taking it a workout at a time and doing what works for me. Here's a rundown:

Running
Yes, the real reason why I chose not to race the Wineglass Half wasn't because of my plantar fasciitis, but because I was pregnant. Besides the 17 miles that I ran 3 days before finding out that I was pregnant, this was the longest run that I've done during my pregnancy and probably will be the longest I'll run for many months. I did feel a lot more tired during Wineglass than I typically would during a half marathon, and I was also a LOT more hungry. By mile 10, I had eaten all of my food and I was starving. Not eat a gu or a packet of jelly beans kind of hungry, but more like a "let's go to a restaurant and eat a 4-6 course meal now" kind of hungry. And hungry during your first trimester is the equivalent of nausea. So, I was sick and hungry and tired for the last several miles of the race. Plus, during the final sprint to the finish line I suddenly became paranoid that I wasn't getting enough oxygen to my baby. Of course, the baby is fine.

Needless to say, I've dropped out of the Walt Disney World Marathon. I knew that it was a possibility that I would not be running that race when I signed up for it, but the funny thing about trying to get pregnant is that you really don't know how long it will take and what you should be planning for, so I had gone ahead and signed up. We've moved our Disney vacation to later in the year (and baby will be coming with us!!!).

Since Wineglass, 7 miles has been my longest run. I ran the Cold Turkey 10K, also at a slow pace. I would like to do one or two other 5Ks or 10Ks while I still can, but they're not all that plentiful this time of year. I'll keep running as long as I can. So far, I'm somewhat slower, but not terribly slow. I skip more runs than normal, if I'm tired or not feeling great. I am pleased to say that I'm feeling less nauseous now than I was a few weeks ago, so it's been easier to get my runs in. I wish that I had been 100% healthy and in tip-top shape, running wise, when I got pregnant, but it didn't work out that way. At least my PF allowed me a good excuse as to why I wasn't running fast and long...

Strength Training and Yoga
I had a coupon in early September and received 3 sessions with a personal trainer at my gym. I was looking to change up my workouts, and I really liked the personal trainer that I was working with. The first session was great, and I was sooo sore afterwards. We agreed to meet again 2 weeks later, and I did the workout on my own in the meantime, Then, the day before my second session, I got the positive pregnancy test. So, my two final sessions turned into pregnancy workouts.

Do you know how to get a personal trainer to not work you as hard? Tell them you're pregnant. LOL. The workouts were still great, though, and it turned out to be perfect timing to help me figure out what to do with myself as far as weights and strength go during this time.

The bad news, though, is that I became so tired that I would sleep too late, and not go to the gym before work. I would get to work a little late and leave work a little late, and then realize that if I worked out after work, I wasn't going to have the energy to make dinner. And, weight training made me super-nauseous. I don't know why, but running did not make me nearly as sick. I routinely felt like throwing up every time I tried to go to the gym. So, little by little, I stopped going.

Since then, I picked up a few prenatal yoga DVDs and I've been doing them pretty regularly. I'm hoping that they will be "good enough" from a strength perspective. I've also added some "mom & baby" yoga workouts to my registry, so maybe yoga will finally become a part of my life. Maybe, at this time, it's best for me to focus less on weights and more on yoga anyway. I don't think I'm going to be able to keep my gym membership after the baby is born.

Swimming
Ok, I admit it. I started swimming about a year ago not because I wanted to do a triathlon, but because I knew we were going to be trying to get pregnant and I knew swimming was something I could do throughout my pregnancy. But... I haven't really been swimming. I've gone once since finding out I was pregnant. Sadly, that one time I just sloshed around in there a little because I found that my swim cap gives me a headache. My winter running hats and headbands have been giving me headaches also, and I'm so limited in what pain meds I can take that I am hesitant to do things that will give me a headache. So, I'll try again to swim, or I'll get a new swim cap or something, I'm sure. But, I've had the same problem time wise getting out to swim as I've had with weight training - I've just been too tired. So, we'll see.

Stuff I'm not doing
My bike is just going to collect dust. I have too much trouble running into things, so for safety reasons, I won't be getting on the bike. It's possible that I might ride it on the trainer, but I haven't thus far (I just hate riding it on the trainer). It's down in the basement if I ever want to ride.

I also attended one body pump class during my 11th week of pregnancy and ended up deciding that it's really not for me right now. I can't keep up and so much of the class you have to lay on your back, I just don't think it's worthwhile. Since I am thinking I'll have to quit the gym post-baby, that was probably my last body pump class for the foreseeable future.

Scuba diving... :( It's not allowed during pregnancy. I might help with an open water class or two in the pool, but I have to stay in the shallow end. I can snorkel, but Divers Alert Network says it's not ok to scuba dive. I miss it -- even though I probably wouldn't have gone scuba diving during this period anyway.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Dining Room Progress Over 2 Years

I just happened to look back at my post right after Thanksgiving 2010, and I included a little picture of our dining room. We had two folding tables that year, since we had yet to commit to dining room furniture. We did get some furniture shortly after, thanks to Stowebound Custom Furniture.

Our dining room in 2010
Well, look at it now! I just have to show it off, with the photo that I took Thanksgiving morning. Granted, the table is set properly in the 2012 photo, and I was actually trying to get a good photo (I think in the 2010 photo, I was actually just taking a picture of The Bug hanging out in the chair like he expected me to serve him). Anyway...

Dining room in 2012
Hooray for house progress!

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I'm Thankful For This Year

This has been quite a year. I say every year that I am more thankful than anything to be able to spend another year with my family and friends, and that my biggest fear is losing someone I love. And, this year I lost my dad. But, in the sadness and awfulness that surrounded his death and the 3 weeks of hospital time that led up to it, I can still find a few things to be thankful for in that.

The day he died, I got off of work early and headed down to the hospital. No one was there but dad, and I spent of couple of hours just sitting and reading and holding his hand. My brother and my dad's wife and her daughters and granddaughters did come later, and then they left for the night and it was just me again. I was spending the night there, since my brother had spent the night before. After everyone left, I said to dad, "you know, I had been wanting for a long time for us to spend some time one on one, since we hadn't done it in about 15 years... This really wasn't what I had in mind." He passed away less than an hour later, and I'm thankful for that time that I had with him, even if he may not have known I was even there.

And then there's my mom. She made it through a hospital stay in February and surgery in October. She's got another surgery coming in 2013, but at least things are looking pretty ok for her right now. I'm definitely thankful for that.

As for Todd and me - well, if you deciphered my photo from Tuesday, you know that we're expecting a new little family member of our own. Tuesday, we went in for an ultrasound and we were able to see our baby for the second time. The first time was at 7 weeks, and baby was just a blob on the screen. This time, he (or she, but we'll go with "he" since it's easy) was moving all around, moving his little arms and legs - and he looked like a baby! What a relief to see things progressing normally. I spent a major portion of my life thinking that I may not be able to get pregnant at all due to surgery and illness from when I was a teenager, and then I spent most of my first trimester worrying that something would go wrong. After all of that worry, getting pregnant so easily (it took seven months, if you're interested) seemed too good to be true. So, having a pregnancy - and a healthy one at that - is definitely something to be thankful for.

And -- I'm terribly thankful to be out of my first trimester. From what I've heard, the second trimester is the best one, so I can't wait! My nausea started disappearing about a week and a half ago, and last week I discovered that I actually had energy to run! Happiness! I've been running anyway, but skipping a lot of them and running a short 30 minute run in the morning would basically wear me out for the entire day. I'm definitely feeling more energetic. Although, my clothes do not fit at all. So, maybe I'm thankful for upcoming Black Friday sales on maternity clothes!

Todd started a new job in October, and he seems to be pretty happy in his new role. I'm thankful that he is working a tiny bit closer to home, and that he's found a place that makes him happy. He actually went on his job interview the very same day that I got my positive pregnancy test. Big changes all around for us, and most of all - I'm thankful that things seem to be headed in a more positive direction!

So, happy Thanksgiving everyone, enjoy family time and some delicious turkey on this lovely day!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Announcing...

To be fully baked on or around May 28, 2013...


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Monday, November 19, 2012

Cold Turkey 10K 2012

I've done this race once before, in 2010. That race happens to be my 10K PR, and I ran super fast! This year, not so much, but I went in with no goals, so that is pretty much why.

The Cold Turkey 10K takes place at my high school, so it's always a treat to go back and see how things have changed. This year, I pretty much stayed in the cafeteria, so the answer was : not much. The cafeteria looks pretty much the same as it did when I graduated in 1996.

Todd and I ran the race together. It was somewhat chilly - about 45 degrees - and I haven't adjusted to the cold yet this year, so I was cold at first. Our friend Sue joined us for the run. She was a group leader for the 10K training program and decided to take it easy for the training programs goal race and stick with us. Todd and I were basically running at a training pace and just enjoying ourselves. Between injury and other circumstances, I am not really trained for a PR and I was pretty much just running this race in order to get one more race under by belt before the end of the year.

The course starts behind the high school, winds through the complex (there are 5 schools in the complex - my middle school, my high school, the special school, the vocational school and the elementary school). Then, the course leaves the complex and heads down the road to a residential street before making a turn around to head back to the start line. It is rolling hills, including some reasonably large ones, but the $18 entry fee just can't be beat.

Here is a terrible race photo. L to R, Mark, Sue, Me and Todd
as we approach the finish
There's nothing really to report about the race - we did 1:1 intervals, and took it easy. We enjoyed the day, and met up with fellow group member Mark about a half mile from the finish. The four of us finished together at 1:17, which is somewhere in the middle of my 10K finish times (although most of my other 10Ks were finished in 70+ degree weather).

There was an awesome variety of snacks at the end, and the shirts were pretty nice. So, all in all, good race, if not eventful.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ten-Second Book Reviews

I realized that I haven't done one of these in a really long time! So, I have many to catch up on!

Midwives: It's a weird book choice, but I was curious about this one. The basic story is that a woman is giving birth at home using a midwife, and things just go horribly wrong. The midwife ends up performing a c-section on the mother, and a lengthy court battle ensues. This book reminded me a whole lot of books by Jodi Picoult, so if you like her writing and aren't afraid of the subject matter (I was told over and over again not to read it), give it a shot. It wasn't as disturbing to read as it sounds, and it wasn't as anti-midwife as it sounds (in fact, I think it gave a lot of pretty good arguments FOR home birth under normal circumstances). But, people read into things what they want.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President: Wow. I simply adored this book. It's the story of James Garfield, one of the four presidents that have been assassinated - and the one people usually forget. You know, haven't you thought "Lincoln, Kennedy... Uh, McKinley... and... ugh! Who is the other one?!" I really was expecting kind of a "meh" response to it, and I was concerned that I would be bored out of my skull reading presidential history. However, Candice Millard did an excellent job making me really believe that Garfield could have been one of our greatest presidents, if only he hadn't been needlessly shot by a crazy guy for really no reason at all. Top it all off with the fact that Garfield should have recovered from his wounds (and would have if he'd been shot only a decade or so later), and you have a wonderful, if not headshakingly frustrating story. If you're interested in history, medicine, or just want a good nonfiction read, this is one for you.

... and then I read The Soldier's Wife, and found the book that I would find "meh" and boring. It's the story of a woman living on the island of Guernsey during WWII, raising her two daughters. The island was German-occupied, and it becomes easy for her to get pretty sympathetic to the German soldiers (if you know what I mean, wink-wink). This makes it sound pretty awesome, and in fact it does pick up a little towards the end of the book. But, in general, zzzzz... I was bored. It was slow moving and bo-ring.



A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1): A lot of times when I review books in a series, I review the whole series at once, but for A Song of Ice and Fire (which is the true name of the Game of Thrones series) I'm going to review them one by one. I had not yet seen the HBO series when I read Book 1, and I found it LONG and slow-moving. I liked it okay, and I gave it a so-so rating, but it wasn't until I actually watched the first season of the series that I started to truly enjoy it. This book basically sets everything up for the following books, and I think that if you're going to read the series, you should definitely start with this one and not skip ahead (even if you've seen the television series). It will be well worth it to get used to the names and the writing style, as well as learning all of the things that the series skips over. It's handy to know that there is an appendix at the end that explains the houses and who the characters are. I read on Kindle, so I didn't discover this until I was done, and it would really have been helpful to have known this all along...

Divergent: This is book one in a three-book (I think) young adult dystopian series. Does it sound like The Hunger Games based on that description? Well, the books are being touted as the next Hunger Games series, and there is a movie being made, so it's very HG-like. It's another story of a group of teens in a future dystopian world fighting each other, although not for the same reasons as in the HG series. The world is divided into "factions," and teenagers must choose which they want to be a part of. We follow the lead character through her choices, and also discover some pretty messed up things about the world she is living in. I enjoyed it, and I think that if you enjoyed The Hunger Games series, you should give this one a try.

Insurgent: The second book in the series, this one picks up right where Divergent left off (and I mean RIGHT where it left off - seconds later). Since I finished Divergent and immediately started Insurgent about a minute later, it felt to me like they were one long book. I'll say this - if you read Divergent and have a ton of questions about what is going on, and how things are working in this new world, never fear - Insurgent really answers a lot of questions. Although - it begs more questions. Based on how Insurgent ends, I think the third book in the series (not yet written or published, but author Veronica Roth is joking that it will be titled "Detergent") will hopefully tie everything up and answer the rest of the questions that I have about what is going on in this series.


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Saturday, November 3, 2012

How New York City Broke My Heart

Within an hour or two of my post yesterday, the 2012 New York City Marathon was canceled. I am still not choosing a side on the cancel vs not cancel debate. I can still see both sides.

It's reasonable to think that the marathon would have brought New York City together. I saw the people of New York last year. I know how they line First Avenue cheering for people that they don't even know. I heard strangers in Queens yelling "Thank you" for coming to their city and running the race. I didn't really consider it earlier in the week, but if someone had asked me if New Yorkers would be happy to have the marathon still go on, I would have remembered these things and probably said yes. I really, truly felt loved in New York last November. Marathons show endurance and pushing through strife - that is what we as marathoners do.

I would have also supported Mayor Bloomberg if he had chosen to cancel the race on Tuesday or Wednesday. When a city is hurting, when it is full of people who are struggling for power, or food, water or shelter, of course it would have been acceptable to cancel the race. New York just suffered a major disaster, canceling the race would have been a smart choice. Like I said yesterday, I couldn't imagine the marathon without the subway, so the decision to go on with the race was actually a surprise to me.

So, I am not choosing sides in that debate. Maybe I am naive to think that the Mayor had the city's best interests in mind when he chose to go forward with it, I don't know. I am not the mayor of New York City, so I don't have to make such decisions - and therefore I'm not going to.

So, what is my problem? When the race wasn't canceled, runners were placed in a difficult decision about whether or not still come and run. On the one hand, the mayor and the NYRRs were saying "come, it is fine." On the other hand, the backlash from New Yorkers was staggering. People who have trained for months, paid potentially thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel and race entry fees were forced to consider whether or not to run a race that was apparently still going to happen. Some of these people were running to run a marathon. Some of them were running for a cause such as cancer, autism, heart disease, and any other number of charities. Some of them had raised thousands of dollars under the assumption that they would run the race. Some of them had planned to pin photos of loved ones lost to disease or tragedy to their shirts and run in their honor. Running a marathon, especially New York City, is not just about running. Not only that, but the marathon in 2011 brought in $350 million in revenue to the city. That's not something to sneeze at.

Even this week, runners planning to still run the race were collecting supplies to bring to New York with them. They were struggling over the decision of whether or not to run. They were raising money for hurricane victims. They were offering to volunteer to help in New York after the run. They were trying to help.

So, when I read the things that New Yorkers were saying online, not about the NYRRs, not about Mary Wittenberg, not about Mayor Bloomburg, but about the actual runners of the race and the race itself, I felt betrayed by the city that had welcomed me and loved me just a year ago for coming and running through the streets. I feel that there is a vast misunderstanding about the race, about the runners and about how this event could have been turned into a positive thing once the decision was made to go ahead with it. This could have been a rallying cry, but instead it was an embarrassment.

What I saw on Facebook was runners being called selfish. Runners were called narcissists, shallow, and swear words that I won't repeat. Some people posted that they wanted the marathon canceled not only this year, but forever. Others worked on organizing people to go down to the marathon to throw garbage at the runners as they ran the race. Some people posted that they were hoping and praying that runners would die during the race. I kid you not, they said these things. Where was the woman holding up the sign that said "Brooklyn loves you!" just 12 months ago? Was she collecting garbage to throw? I can look at it as "these are just comments on the internet", but they were so fierce and so terrible, that I would have feared for my safety if I was a runner running the race tomorrow, and I would have canceled simply because I felt so unwelcome.

Runners are not the enemy here, but no one seems to realize that, and because of that, I am heartbroken and sad. The people of New York are the reason that the New York City Marathon is so great. Without their support, the marathon is nothing. And, I don't know how I would feel even in 2013 about coming to their city to run with the attitude that I see now.

Maybe the problem is that I tend to sense a general hatred of marathons and runners anyway. Just take a look at Chicago's 5 Things to Hate About Marathon Runners. Or how about when a mayoral candidate in Toronto made it an election platform to remove the marathon from its city streets? Or how about all of the examples that many of us have had about road rage against runners? Maybe I feel like people hate runners and marathoners anyway, so this whole charade was boiling all of that resentment to the surface. And it makes me really, really sad. I mean, the runners that are being chastised for "taking away resources" from victims are the same people that paid $255 each to pay for those resources to exist in the first place.

Let's also not forget that the basketball and football games will go on this weekend - and they will bring in more people to the city than runners planning to run tomorrow. Is it any wonder that I feel like there is a bias against running going on here?

In the end, the decision to cancel last night was probably the worst thing that could have happened. If the argument is that runners were taking hotel rooms from those in need, then canceling the race when these runners had already gotten into town was not helping anyone. If the argument was that the water, bagels, bananas, etc being brought in for the marathon should have been used to help the victims - I wonder if it actually will be. It's not exactly the NYRR's area of expertise to distribute bagels and water across a huge city to victims of a disaster. And, I wonder what if the marathon hadn't been planned and none of those things had been there in the first place? And I wonder if the victims would have been better served by the charity the runners were feeling coming into town - which has now been soured. Yes, there were generators being used to power the race - but do we really think that those generators would be redirected to the victims if the race hadn't been going forward? Do we really think they'll go the victims now? I don't.

I am disappointed in the whole ordeal. If the race was to be canceled, it should have been canceled on Tuesday or Wednesday. I would not have questioned that decision. Instead, we have an embarrassment and a debacle and cluster that I am ashamed of.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

NYC: Cancel or Don't Cancel?

I'm really torn on this. First of all, let me just have a moment of total and complete selfishness where I say that I'm glad that I ran the New York City Marathon last year.

New York was devastated during Hurricane Sandy, and the storm happened less than a week before the annual ING New York City Marathon. The NYC Marathon last year had over 46,000 finishers. That's a big race! It is, in fact, the largest marathon in the US. The race runs through all 5 boroughs of NYC, and has more spectators than I have ever seen at any other race. The people of New York come out for this and support the race, that's true.

That being said, the subway is still crippled. Parts of the city are without power. Emergency crews have been running around the clock to restore the city to normal. New York is not at its best right now.

Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the New York City marathon would go on as planned this Sunday. The New York City Road Runners are going ahead with it. Was this the right decision??

I have no idea.

The one thing that I think a few people fail to realize is that you cannot reschedule a 47,000 runner race. The logistics of doing so render it impossible - closing the city, rescheduling the support, getting new food and water and/or storing the water. Rescheduling a few weeks from now would bump against the Thanksgiving day parade. Rescheduling months from now would most likely begin to impact the 2013 marathon, which starts getting underway in April for registration. It's have the race this weekend, or don't have it at all. There are no other options, and none should be expected.

What if it was canceled? Well, I am sure most runners will find another race, if there are races that are still open. I would imagine other races that aren't already full would become so. Not that this is important. Would it hurt the morale of the city to have such an important event canceled? Would revenue in the city be lost - revenue that the city desperately needs right now? Is it better to have something to make people feel positive and happy about something?

What if it isn't canceled? To be honest, I cannot imagine the race without the subway running. It was critical to my race day plans. A lot of attention is being shown to emergency workers,who are already worn thin. Can they handle this event? Will the backlash from people upset about the marathon mean that it will not be as welcome in future years?

My initial thought was not to cancel, only because I feel like of course you should have it! Marathons are a great thing!! Marathons spread love and happiness, and that's what people need! You do things after a tragedy to bring yourself back up, that's how the world works. "We just can't do it" doesn't seem to be motto of the New York City that I know. But, it doesn't seem like NYC necessarily agrees with me. So, I don't know. I am curious to see how it goes, and I am curious to see how many finishers there are this year - I know that several people that I knew who were running it have dropped out.

What I do hate more than anything is that the comments that I see on Facebook revolve around selfishness. Oh, you're a runner, you're so selfish. I hate that word. Do people no realize how much money marathons raise for charities?  Geez.

Good luck, NYC runners, regardless!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Car!


Ten years ago today, I brought my first ever brand new car home, and today it turns ten years old! This delights me to no end, because I firmly believe that keeping a car as long as possible is the best way to save money on a car (yes, there's the whole don't buy a new car adage, but I happen to believe that getting a new car and keeping it for over a decade is just as economical).

I think I named my car once, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what I named it, so I keep renaming it every few years and then forgetting what the name was, and then renaming, etc etc etc. Rosie? Nellie? Florence? I don't know. I think it's had all of those names at one point or another so, I will just call it 'Car.'

Car and I have been through some great times. We went to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2003, immediately after a big blizzard that had just hit the northeast. We went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania once when I was still a Tastefully Simple rep (for a TS conference), and at that point, that was the farthest I'd ever driven by myself. Since then, of course, I went to Corning, New York a few weeks ago and now I think that is the farthest I've ever driven by myself. Let's see... Car and I have been to Atlantic City, New Jersey, Ocean City, Maryland (a bunch of times), and once ex-hubby and I drove car down to Tampa, Florida to visit my sister. Car and I have traveled 170,000 miles together.

And, at 10 years, it's my longest relationship!

Car looks a little dirty in the picture (actually, if I had taken the photo of the passenger and not the drivers side, you would see mud splattered all up the side because there is weird construction going on at one part of my commute). Trust me, Car is very dirty on the inside. So, for Car's birthday, I am going to get it a full interior and exterior detail. She deserves it. Ten years, no major problems, and the mechanic that I use seems to think that we can get another 80,000 miles out of her.

There is just a hurricane coming to the northeast, so the birthday gift may have to wait until after that passes.

Oh Car, I love you.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

More Little Cayman Photos

But wait, there are more fabulous photos from our trip to Little Cayman!

Our resort, Southern Cross Club, with Owen Island in the background,
which is where we got married.
Me with a turtle
Divemaster Kristian with a turtle
My scuba students constantly complain about
how heavy dive equipment is, but here is
divemaster Mike showing off while wearing
his own equipment and carrying someone elses.
Me in Randy's Gazebo
I'm showing a sea pearl, but I really look
like a Harry Potter character.
Todd and me on a safety stop

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Little Cayman 2012

Todd & me on our anniversary celebration night
Do you ever want to do something, and then you wait so long that it almost seems like you shouldn't bother doing it anymore because the time has passed? Like, if you get a gift and then you want to send a thank you, but you forget and then lo and behold, it's been a year and then you feel like you may as well not send it now, because the person already thinks you're super ungrateful, and you have to decide if you want to seem super ungrateful or just forgetful/irresponsible? That's how I feel about this post, which is a trip report from a vacation that we took back in July. But, I can't leave it anymore, because Todd's pictures are so awesome that they must be shared.

You may already know that we visit Southern Cross Club in Little Cayman. We usually visit for July 2, which is our wedding anniversary, and July 4, which is the birthday of our wonderful country. This year, we had plans to visit during that time, but my dad became very sick about a week before we were to leave, and we were lucky enough to be able to rebook the entire trip for a few weeks later. He did pass away, and the day we were leaving on our rebooked trip was the day after the funeral. Which was weird, quite frankly. We basically left the funeral and drove home and packed our bags to get the heck out of there.

Me, relaxing in the pool
So, it was a bit of a strange trip. It was a bittersweet time, and the staff was wonderful to us. But, we are usually visiting with about 10 of our friends whom we only see each year in Little Cayman, and it was sad to not have them along with us. In fact, the resort was nearly empty - there was only one other couple booked at the resort during our stay (which is why the resort was OK with us rebooking to the week that we did).

I've talked about our trips to Little Cayman a bunch of times. Besides our strange timing and the fact that we were missing our friends, this trip wasn't that much different from the rest. We still dove two or three times a day. We were lucky enough to get to visit a dive site outside the marine park, where the divemaster (Mike) had not even gone before. That was awesome! The resort was also kind enough to book us in the honeymoon suite (or, we call it "the pink building"), where we've never stayed, despite having gotten married at Southern Cross Club. There's usually a couple that has booked it before us, and we typically stay in the yellow building.
Honeymoon Suite
We were able to have a special romantic dinner on the new upper deck of the main building, in order to celebrate our anniversary, even if it was 22 days later than planned. It was very nice.
And that's really it. We did a lot of hammocking. I was emotionally exhausted from the weeks before, and I was content to sit and do not very much, We did go out in a kayak a little bit, but it was mostly, eat-dive-eat-dive-rest-eat-sleep and get up and do it all the next day again.
Dinner for our anniversary
So, I'll just share some photos (mostly of groupers) that Todd took during the trip:
There's a lot of grouper love in Little Cayman (please don't eat grouper)
See? Here I am with another grouper!
This is our divemaster Mike, taking grouper love literally.
Kissy kissy, grouper.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Wineglass Half Marathon 2012

Another race finished, happy happy! :)
Part of the beautiful course
The Wineglass Marathon and Half Marathon takes place in Corning, New York, which is in south central New York State. I drove up to New York on Saturday - it's about a 4 1/2 hour drive from my house up to Corning. The drive was beautiful. In fact, the entire thing was beautiful - the leaves are changing all over the place from about central PA north. I love fall, and I especially love this fall. I usually am a summer person, but seeing as how my summer this year was terrible, I am glad to see summer finally over.

Todd didn't join me for this race. He was actually in Florida this weekend visiting his parents. It was kind of fun getting away on my own. I don't normally travel by myself, so it was kind of exciting to have a hotel room all on my own and such.

The expo was small but really well organized and very nice. You did have to take about a half mile walk down the street to pick up your extra goodies - a small bottle of champagne and a wineglass - but at least that way I got to check out the town. My friend Elizabeth and I were both running, and we were staying at the same hotel. After much hemming and hawing about what to eat for dinner the night before the race, we finally settled on going to the local Wegmans and getting pasta. It was delicious and they made it there right on the spot!

Race morning was foggy and chilly. We walked down to the finish line area and picked up a school bus to the starting line of the Half Marathon. I'd heard that there were some issues with the buses last year, but there was no problem this time. We got right on the second bus. The starting line was a little ways away (well, I guess 13.1 miles away, actually). It was at a school, and we were permitted to go inside and hang out in the gym while we waited for the race to start. This was nice and meant we stayed nice and warm. Temps were about 40 degrees.

I decided not to race this race at all. I have been nursing this foot injury all season and I just didn't feel 100% trained for this one. So, I made a goal of 2:45-2:59, and deep down I wanted to do better than I did in January when I ran a 2:51 and rode a roller coaster mid-race.

Elizabeth and I decided to stick together as long as we could, and that ended up being the whole race. Which is nice, it's fun to race with someone and I almost always race alone (or with Todd). The course map looks basically down hill with one largerish hill at the very beginning of the race. Honestly, it didn't seem flat or downhill. It seemed rolling, but the rolls were so very small that the course was basically flat. It went through cow pasture (at one point, we passed a barn that was MOOING very loudly), and a lot of beautiful residential neighborhoods. The course was point-to-point, so we didn't do any loops, but got to see plenty of small New York towns. Miles 11 and 12 were through jogging trails in a very pretty park. Spectators were around, but not heavy.
Eilzabeth & Me at the finish

There isn't a whole lot to report on how my race was. I had a great time chit chatting with Elizabeth, and my foot felt a little sore here and there, but it was really not an issue. I felt tired now and again, but it was just your standard non-PR race :) ...which is just what I needed.

The finish line was down Market Street, and it was perfect. There were tons of spectators at the very end. Our medals were made of glass,which was very cool, but I've spent the last 24 hours worried that I would drop it and break it. I can't say that for any other medal from any other race I've done.

The finish line had awesome amenities - real chocolate milk (not Nesquick or Yoohoo, which I HATE). Plus, chicken noodle soup, cookies and the usual bananas, bagels, water, apples, etc. There were also sodas, but I've given them up recently :(

The best part? A pizza place had brought down pizza ovens and put them in the middle of the street and were baking pizzas right there at the finish line! We each had two slices. I didn't think I was in the mood for pizza, but when I bit into a slice, it was the best pizza EVER. Totally awesome.

We did go see the Corning Museum of Glass the town a bit, and it was nice, but I was quite frankly wiped out. I stayed until this morning, but last night I mostly snoozed around my hotel room.

I'm home today, feeling great after a great race :) I think my very last PT appointment is this week (maybe?), which means I am all healed!! :)

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Foot Update

I'm happy to say that my foot is doing pretty great! After the last couple of months of seeing my physical therapist twice a week, I'm down to seeing him just once a week. I've been able to run the entire time, and the weekend before last I was able to run 17 miles!

I am not 100% pain free, but I am nearly pain free. At this point, the PF feels like a little bit of a bruise every once in a while. I ran on Saturday without tape - I didn't mean to, I just forgot to tape it and then I was running late. It was only 6 miles, but once I was about a quarter mile in, I never had any more pain the entire run!

So, things are great. Things have been pretty busy at home, so I haven't been updating as much. This weekend I'm running the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, New York. Looking forward to it!!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Annapolis 10 Mile Run 2012

Better late than never race report from a race I ran on August 26.
A group of us pre-race - already soaked
Last year, my very favorite race, the Annapolis Ten Miler, was canceled due to Hurricane Irene. Oh so much sadness!!! So, imagine our amazement when the race was nearly canceled again this year!

This race is the race that I've done most consistently, having done it every year since 2006 without missing a year (I count 2011 as having finished....). With its 12 minute per mile time limit and its huge hills and sweltering August heat, it's one of the most challenging races around - and you have to FINISH to get the premium - they are given out that the finish line, not the expo.

Todd and I had spent the night in Annapolis like we always do. Race start was at 7:45 and we were planning to leave my mom's house at around 6:45. Well, at around 5am, I was laying in bed, listening to pouring rain and thunder. Oh no.

I mean, it's bad enough that I'm still fighting Plantar Fasciitis, but now I have to fight a thunderstorm also? Part of me was relieved at the possibility of not running - since I had DNF'd at Hadassah, I had lost my confidence in running. That being said, I'd completed a 14 mile run the weekend before, so that was great.

We got up and got ready, and headed to the starting line, even though phone calls were coming in from others who were heading down from Baltimore and had decided to turn it around. No one was certain if the race was going to happen or not. We walked to the start in the rain, with thunder and lightning all around.

And then... it stopped. At start time, there was no rain at all. In past years, I've complained about the starting area of the A-10, and this year was the same. See my race report from 2010, where I complain about the crowded start with no corrals. This year, I decided to take a different approach. I stood aside. My group stood with me, and we all stood and watched as hundreds of people crossed the finish line before us. We started about 3 minutes later than in years past, and as a result the first couple of miles were so much more comfortable than before. Usually, I would have to hop off the course into the yards of the houses there and take my walk breaks that way. I knew that wasn't going to be such a possibility this year because of the puddles and rain. I was able to take my walk breaks on the course and it was awesome.

My friend Elizabeth started with me, and we were only, oh, about a quarter mile in before BOOM - the sky OPENED UP. I mean, a downpour that makes it impossible to even SEE. Ok, it sucked, but who doesn't feel like a badass running a race in the pouring rain? To make matters worse, less than a mile in, my strap on my sports bra came undone. Elizabeth stopped for a second to help me (she is awesome), and we headed on again - only for me to find that my shoe had come untied because I'd only haphazardly tied my chip on to it.

I stopped again, and I took the chip off entirely and put it into my belt that I was carrying. We started again. Not even 5 minutes later - the bra was unsnapped again. I managed to fix it on a walk break without stopping, but it was a frustrating first few miles. Thankfully, as we were just finishing up Main Street (about mile 3), the rain stopped and we finished the race with sunshine.

The Annapolis Capital has some pretty awesome photos of the race in the downpour (don't look for me in them, I was probably still back at the starting line when these fast folks were out there!)

We crossed over the Severn River Bridge, and I just couldn't keep up with Elizabeth. Her training has been better than mine (I'm just happy to be running at all!), so I decided not to try and keep up.

After the bridge, the course was different than in previous years due to some arguments between the Annapolis Striders and the Naval Academy. Instead of heading into neighborhoods, we did a huge out and back in what I thought was a hillier area, but it's tough to really say. The out and back was annoying, but I didn't hate it. I think I'm happy with either course. Right at the turn around point, I noticed that my chip didn't beep on the mat, so I had to pull off my belt and put it down lower to get it to beep. Hence, my finish line photo would show me doing the same thing...

It was on my way back to the bridge, about mile 7, that I finally started thinking about a goal. I was doing surprisingly well. My foot was hurting some, but I was just plain ignoring it. I was keeping a good pace. I could almost have PR'd, but it would have required more effort than I thought I had for miles 9 and 10 - which are the hardest on the course for me. My PR was around 2 hours, and I thought I could make 2:05, so I made that my goal.

I was literally on cloud 9 for those last two miles - my goal was totally doable, I was RUNNING and not getting another DNF, and I didn't have to push for a PR. I was talking to others, the sun was shining and I was having just a GREAT time. Lo and behold, I crossed that finish line in 2:03:24, not my worst, not my best, but definitely a great race.

Afterwards, I was HURTING. My foot was bad for a few days, but it was worth it. :)

More updates soon, I promise.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stuff I Love: Miracle Tape

I've been using KT Tape to help my plantar fasciitis, and it is working!! WOO!

I started seeing a physical therapist around the end of July, and the exercises are working, but slowly. Soon after my DNF at the Hadassah 8K, my therapist, Russell recommended that I try the KT Tape. Here's an interview on WBAL with Russell, where he explains what it does and how it works.

I was totally and completely skeptical of this tape when he first put it on. Sure, I'd seen it on the Olympics. I knew that athletes used it, but I really didn't see how this tape could possibly make my foot any better.

I have two separate problems - the plantar fasciitis in my arch, and the pain on the top of my foot that is arthritis or tendinitis, or something related, caused as a side effect of the PF. Russell asked  me to choose if I wanted the top or the bottom to be taped, and I chose the top, since the top of my foot was a lot more painful than the bottom. I totally blew this whole tape thing off. Whatever!

Well, as I was walking out of the building, I could already feel a difference. Lo and behold, that Saturday, I was able to run 5 miles with almost no pain in the top of my foot, and minimal pain in my arch (which has never been as bad, as I said before). It was amazing.

The following Tuesday, I ran on the treadmill and felt the same - just small twinges near my toes, and arch pain, but SO MUCH better. Russell re-applied the tape, this time putting it both on the top of my foot and on the arch itself (as you can see in my photo above). (Side note: I was wearing Annapolis 10 Miler Gear that day, if you're familiar with the race, you can tell that I was totally matching!). Thursday, I ran again and no pain during the run on the top of my foot, just continued arch pain near my heel. I did feel a bit of pain near my toes on the top of my foot when stepping on the gas pedal driving to work a little bit later, but it wasn't bad.

Friday morning, Russell re-applied the blue tape in the photo in the hopes that it would do a better job of helping my arch. It was in a different configuration, which would better support my arch. The great news? I ran FOURTEEN MILES on Saturday with very little arch pain and no pain the top of my foot. I did have arch pain here and there, but it was not sustained. I walked in the last half mile, and I was pretty wiped out the rest of the day, but it was more because I had no business running that many miles. I hadn't trained enough - I had only done 9 miles as my longest before this, and that was in early July. I was falling back on my base mileage that I've built up over the last 6 years, and I think it helped me out.

So, I had some arch pain on Sunday, but it went away. I've been very diligent about icing my foot and using a golf ball to help stretch out the plantar fascia.

KT Tape? I'm sold on it. I was a non-believer, but now I think it is miraculous. If you try it out, make sure you get the PRO version, as it sticks better and longer. I only took off the tape this morning that was applied on Friday (and the top of my foot had been on for a full week). I wouldn't have taken it off, but I needed a little break, and I wanted to shave under it. I see Russell this evening and he will likely re-apply.

Did I mention it also comes in a ton of cool colors? My only wish would be a color variety pack so that I could change up the tape to match outfits.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hadassah 8K 2012

The Fleet Feet group before the race

My very first DNF!

I've been talking about the injury to my foot for a while. It's PF pain, and it's also on the top of my foot (which is basically arthritis or tendinitis all coming from my wonky feet). So, I didn't know how this race was going to go, and I felt a sense of dread at the starting line.

I ran a pretty great race here last year, so that was on my side, but it was still not good.

My first mile, which was just running around Goucher College, I did 10:30, which was pretty great, but I was already in pain. We left the college and headed out on the the hilly, ridiculous surrounding area. It was hot and humid, so that wasn't a great thing. And the hills. Oh, the hills. I've done very little hill training lately, compared to normal, and I've been doing so much non-running, that I just couldn't handle those hills in that heat.

I was getting passed and passed and passed. I'm not going to lie, mentally, I could not handle the number of people that were passing me. I knew my time was going to be abysmal, and I was definitely feeling pain both in my plantar fascia and on the top of my foot. Finally, about 3 1/2 miles in, we went up this GIANT hill that I remember toughing it through last year. But, this year, I walked. When I got to the top, I was worn out and hot, and I had some foot pain and I just didn't want to destroy my foot or do further damage for this race that meant nothing and I was clearly going to do terrible for anyway.

So, I flagged down a volunteer who drove me to the finish line.

It was so embarrassing. I've never DNF'd before. Having to tell people what happened was miserable. To  make matters worse, I agreed to go out to breakfast after, and it really stunk listening to everyone talk about the race - and give me advice on my foot and whatever. This was over a week ago, and things are actually doing better (I'll update later), but this race was definitely my low point.

I have a pretty tough race coming up at the end of the month - The Annapolis Ten Miler - and I don't know if I'll be able to do it or not. We'll see.

Photo courtesy of Robin Nesky

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