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31 December, 2012

Closing the Book on 2012

It's weird to say, but I'm hesitant to leave 2012 behind.  It's been such an amazing year for me. How can next year possibly match it?

You've all been along with me for the ride, and I'm not going to re-hash everything that happened.  You can read the archives if you want.  There were only 45 posts this year...shouldn't take too long.  Anyway, here is my traditional year-end non-sequitor overly-hyphenated wrap-up: (the first word in each sentence links back to the first blog post of each month)

I'm not making resolutions.  First of all, I would like to point out that I'm actually following through on the arbitrary goals I put on myself.  On my 30th birthday, my co-worker Donna bought me a big ol' mylar "30" balloon. I wish I had a picture...I think you'd be impressed. This is officially the highest GPA I've had in my collegiate life (previous part-time summer semesters were both in the 3.6 area), and I freaking earned it!

Just a quick update for posterity: Yesterday, I ran my first mile in 13.58 minutes. 

I called Sirius-XM this afternoon because my most recent promotional rate was about to expire.  I thought I'd preserve for posterity a section of the last paper I had to write for my Industrial/Organizational Psychology class this semester.  This kid started kindergarten today.  The duct tape on my feet held perfectly.  When I get the cooking bug, it's pretty inconvenient with the working and the studying and the exercise... ok, mostly the working and the studying, but I digress.  I had a long training run this morning - 8 miles - and during that time, I found myself doing a little reflection.
Hardly seems to cover everything, but I guess it touches on the highlights.  I can't even imagine what's in store for the next 12 months. 

Bring on 2013!

22 December, 2012

Some School Numbers

We're now at the end of my third semester back at school, and I really believe I'm going to survive this goal.  Some random stats to throw out:

Fall 2012 GPA: 3.34
Cumulative GPA: 2.44 (it's mathematically impossible to raise that even up to 3.0 before I graduate)
Major GPA: 3.33
Minor GPA: 3.17

2012 Grades: 3 A's, 2 A-'s, 1 B

So, that's where we stand.  It's about time to start searching for cheap textbooks for Spring semester. I've got English 202 (Business Writing) and LER 426 (Staffing & Training Strategies).  Guess which one I'm looking forward to more...

18 December, 2012

12.43


I didn't do any more running after I nabbed this screenshot from my RunKeeper app, but did walk a slow 1/2 mile with Scott. I thought I was DONE, but 4 houses past ours, I was ready to run again.

12.43/mile. The me of 8 months ago (and 6 and 4 and 2 months ago) can't freaking believe it. The me of today is looking forward to adding a second sub-13 mile in a row, but knows that's at least a month away. She also knows it'll happen. After all, my previous PR was 13.02!

She's feeling sort of invincible right now.

16 December, 2012

Reindeer Run

Check us out! We're runners!


Yesterday was the Reindeer Run at Sea World, which sounded like so much fun that Scott was willing to let me sign him up.  It turns out that this run didn't feel as well organized as the Disney runs, but the path was wide enough that there were very few choke points.

I also learned that Scott, who didn't train AT ALL for this run, runs faster than I do.  I don't know how long he'd be able to sustain that (I'm guessing not 10 miles...), but I was actually chasing him a few times wondering how much longer he'd run before our next walk break.

I had a LOT of fun! And I'm so proud of Scott for running with me, and glad he did.  It turns out running is harder when you're laughing, but so much more rewarding.


14 December, 2012

Classic...I Guess

When you find a style that works for you, why change (even 11 years later)?


07 December, 2012

Time With My Thoughts

I had a long training run this morning - 8 miles - and during that time, I found myself doing a little reflection.  It's amazing what two hours (and six minutes) alone with your thoughts and some tunes can yield!

Starting at the bottom...of my feet
A few weeks back, I was at a bar with some guys from work and one was telling me his philosophy of feet.  He says that you can tell a lot about a woman by the state of her feet.  At the time, I made a joke about him having a foot fetish, but agreed with him.  I spend about as much time on making my feet pretty as I do on anything else - not a whole lot.  My polish is usually chipped and/or multi-colored, my shoes are for comfort rather than style, and I didn't spend the time or money for pedicures even when I had the time or money for pedicures.  In other words, my feet show that I'm low-maintenance, and not concerned with appearances.

But today, I was thinking about the actual damage to my feet.  I have blisters from my shoes, blisters from my blister remedies, and callouses and scars from running combined with other factors.  My feet show more than that I don't care about appearances.  They show that I am capable of continuing through adversity.  They show that I'm not a quitter.  And really, what could be more beautiful than that?

Progress
I've been thinking a lot about my progress recently.  Remember when it was a huge deal that I was able to run a mile in under 14 minutes?  I realized recently that I'm pushing towards a sub-13 pace these days.  I'm sure I could do it for a mile, but then would be wrecked for the rest of my run.  On my morning runs, I tend to get disappointed when my pace isn't under 14 minutes for both miles. 

In addition to speed, I am shocked at my stamina.  When I was training for the 10-Miler, my last decent run was 6 miles.  And I blogged about the utter failure that was my 8-mile training run.  Today, I took a few walk breaks and even stopped to take a few pictures, but pretty much maintained a moderate pace throughout.  And when I finished, I was smiling.  Really!  Ask Scott!  I also managed to make it through the rest of today without a nap.

(note: my weekday runs are up to 30/35 second run-walk intervals. today's long run was a pleasantly slow 20/40, which was easy to maintain)

My next long run is 10 miles, in two weeks.  I have a 5k next week, and am wondering if I'll be able to beat my pace from the Jingle Jungle 5k last month.  And for anyone keeping track, the Princess Half Marathon is 77 days away.

I got this.

24 November, 2012

Crapple Pie

Well, I'm sorry to say the crapple pie lived up to its name.  Strangely enough, it wasn't the cranberries-simmered-in-mystery-liquid that did it in.  In fact, I'd say the cranberries were the highlight of the pie!  Having just skimmed my last few posts, I realize that I haven't spoken about the pie before, so I guess a little rewind is needed.

Somewhere between Thanksgiving shopping at Publix last weekend and pie baking on Thursday, I decided to change my plain apple pie into a "crapple" pie with the addition of cranberries.  Those of you who have been reading for six years, (DEAR LORD, when did six years go by??!?) or who were at that fateful Thanksgiving dinner, might remember when I proclaimed that cranberries have no place in civilized desserts, and wonder when I changed my mind.  I didn't - I just forgot!

So I started by simmering cranberries (just 1/2 cup) in some apple juice, brown sugar, and sherry.  I wanted brandy, but apparently we were out, and the sherry caught my eye before the rum.  After 45 minutes, they had popped open, sweetened, and were absolutely delicious.  I took them off the heat and left the pot on the stove to cool, and every time I walked into the kitchen, I'd pop one in my mouth.

Self control?  What's that?

And then I made cornbread for Scott's stuffing dressing, pizza crust for Thursday's dinner, and then considered the 2 1/4 cups of AP flour I'd need for the pie crust.  And that's when the pie started going south - when I realized the crust was going to include 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour.

Scott was helping me core and peel apples when I realized I should probably find an apple pie recipe to modify, rather than just winging the whole thing.  "Two teaspoons of cinnamon?  That couldn't be enough!  I'll use a tablespoon."

...and then the time came to roll out the crust.

I'm blaming the whole wheat flour, mostly because the crust just looked healthy with those dark speckles.  Really though, the fault lies somewhere between the temperature of my little baking corner (which, have I mentioned, is the spot right next to the damn oven?  nice choice, Jamie!), my own temperament - woah, crazy lady! - and my hesitance to use enough self-rising flour on the rolling surface because I thought it might somehow make the crust puffy.

The first horrible attempt to transfer the crust to the pie plate, during which I let out a string of f-words, I'm pretty sure caused Scott and both cats to hide behind various pieces of furniture.  I did, in fact, scare myself.  On the second attempt, the crust still refused to release from the pastry mat.  So I took the whole mat and flipped it over onto the pie plate.  The crust (mostly) transferred, but I made a powdery explosion of flour all over every surface on that half of the kitchen - stove, counter, wall, floor...  It was a mess.  And Scott agreed to clean it up, probably out of fear.  Seriously, picture "There is no Dana, only Zuuuuuuuuuulllll" only without the cool gold dress and wildly-blowing hair.

With the apples transferred into the pie, I arranged the cranberries over the top.  And then I started on the top crust.

I had already decided on a lattice, because it's so much easier to transfer the small strips of crust than an entire disc.  Unfortunately, the entire disc of dough cemented to the counter.  I declared defeat, then declared "rustic tart!"  I didn't have enough dough to fold up the edges all the way around, so I decided to just drop torn chunks of dough willy-nilly on the top.

It became #UglyPie. 

Surely, something that ugly would at least taste good, right?

Sigh...

The apples were too firm, the filling was too liquid, there was WAY too much cinnamon (and lemon! I just used the lemon to keep the apples from browning, but I'll be damned if my first bite wasn't predominantly lemon and cinnamon), some of the crust chunks on the top were burned...but the cranberries were still delicious.

So that's the tale of the crapple pie.  My apple pie last year sucked, but in different ways, so I'm thinking that maybe it's just time to move on.  I make a mean peach, I enjoy cherry and blueberry.  Maybe it's time to learn pumpkin or some sort of custard.

23 November, 2012

It's All Gravy

From-scratch day-late free-balled Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, with only a few culinary missteps.  The following is more of a "see you next year" reference than anything meant to be read for fun:

Scott's Best Gravy Yet:
3 T butter
3 T AP flour
2 C turkey drippings/chicken stock (or broth)
Make a light roux - 5-10 minutes - and slowly add the liquid, 1/4 c at a time, whisk constantly until gravy thickens to desired consistency.

Use the dinner roll recipe in the Pillsbury cookbook, but don't forget to add the egg before all of that flour!

Sherry has no place in civilized cranberry sauce, but the texture is better when simmered on the stove top than just eaten raw.  Try again next year!

Time for a new green vegetable recipe! 

Here's the cornbread dressing recipe, which is delicious, but there was WAY too much baking soda in the cornbread.  (once doused with gravy, it was still good enough to make again)

Take the turkey out of the roasting bag for the last 45-60 minutes to brown the skin.

Time to give up on apple pie. They're always tasty, but not happy with the texture of the apples.

22 November, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I've probably mentioned before that Thanksgiving is my worst holiday.  Every year, it brings with it a little bit of melancholy along with turkey and stuffing.  I truly miss the big family feasts of my childhood, but really haven't done much to establish traditions of our own.  That's the thing about there just being two of us: a lot of tradition just feels silly.

Perhaps that's why dinner tonight is homemade pizza with chicken sausage, zucchini, and corn.

Tomorrow is our big meal.  No worries...there will be turkey.  And stuffing cornbread dressing. And mashed potatoes. And sweet potato casserole. And broccoli casserole.  And cranberry relish. And rolls.  And a pie.

...and with the exception of the canned soup and Bisquick in the broccoli, every single thing is going to be made from scratch.  With butter.  But let's not discuss the butter...

Anyway, Scott and I are currently reeling from a "three steps forward, two steps back" sort of month.  As everyone else is taking to social media to rattle off a list of things they are thankful for, I'm having difficulty being thankful.  "Thanks for the health...except for the things that aren't working properly."  "Thanks for the family...the ones who haven't somehow either betrayed or rejected me."  "Thanks for the work and the paycheck...that come with their own share of drama."  And so, to not seem ungrateful for what we do have, which is more than so many others (but less than we had a month ago), I'm keeping my mouth closed and focusing on food.

I think the only thing I can say I am thankful for without any negative qualifier is the future.  The good thing about going through a bad period is that eventually it ends.  And I know that there are huge opportunities coming our way.  After all, I'm probably about 18 months from having a degree AND experience.  Take that, 21-year-olds!  And Scott... well, I expect great things from that guy.

Time to wrap this up.  I've got food prep to do.  Happy Thanksgiving...I hope you have something to not be bitter about this year!

11 November, 2012

Low & Slow Sunday

When I get the cooking bug, it's pretty inconvenient with the working and the studying and the exercise... ok, mostly the working and the studying, but I digress.  I have a handful of "low and slow" recipes - ones that take a little prep and then a lot of cooking time.  I went back to chicken and dumplings a few weeks back, and though that recipe ended up being a PITA, it got me back into the mood to cook.

And so, it was decided that we'd have short ribs for dinner.  These short ribs, in fact.  I've made them at least 5 or 6 times now, which is enough to know the ingredients by heart.  It helps that this is a "Five Ingredient Fix" recipe!  The only change I really make is throwing in a bag of baby carrots to the pot before putting it in the oven.  There's something awesome about "drunken carrots" with beef. Trust me.  Oh...and really, the jus is sort of a lost cause.  Sometimes Scott tries it, but most times we're happy to go without.  I think the last time we cooled it, skimmed the fat, and then used the remaining liquid for couscous or something similar a few days later.

I wasn't in the mood to have brown rice or noodles with tonight's meal, and really wanted crusty bread.  We spent too much on groceries this week (pro tip: only buy short ribs when they are on sale. even the $5 bottle of wine couldn't save me) and I frankly didn't feel like going back to the store, so no baguette.

Who needs a baguette?  I can make bread.  And really, the ingredients are basically yeast and flour.  I have those in the house!  So instead of regular bread, I'm trying out a new recipe for pretzel rolls.  My dough is currently on its first rise, and I have it timed pretty closely to the time the meat comes out of the oven.  Hopefully that means I'll be having a short rib sandwich on pretzel bread with a little deli mustard in a little over an hour. 

Who's hungry?

25 October, 2012

0% Normal, 100% Jamie

This morning I took a jog around the neighborhood, rather than run on the treadmill at the gym. This allows me to sleep for an extra 45 minutes and be a little less self-conscious about whatever random workout clothes I put on (dark bra + light shirt is much less of a problem outdoors before sunrise). Scott was nice enough to come out with me today, riding his bike (on the sidewalk… tsk tsk) behind me. That meant I could go down dark and shady paths because his bike has a headlight and I’m less likely to be abducted/raped/murdered when he’s with me.
I’ve noticed pretty much since I started running that I have an affliction of sorts caused by years of show choir and marching band: It is incredibly difficult for me to run or walk to music without matching my footsteps to the beat. It’s even harder to ignore the beat if it’s a song I’ve ever performed… and boy howdy that covers a lot of music! If the song is too fast, I find myself taking shorter steps. Too slow? I lengthen my stride and keep to the beat. Also, I have some smallish quirks relating to certain songs. For example, when “Barbie Girl” comes on, I tend to swing my ponytail more and bob my head left and right.
About 20 minutes into this morning’s run, “Greased Lightning” came bopping in through my headphones, and the music... moved me. That’s right, I did the arm motions to the song’s chorus every time through the song. Now, we were on a stretch of road where there were no dog walkers or drivers. It’s unlikely that I would have done the same thing if I was aware of anyone else. During the 10-miler when the song came on, I did the hand motions to “greased lightnin’…go greased lightnin’” but not the full-blown hand-arm combo. (those particular hand motions, by the way, are good for relieving dehydration-related sausage fingers)
(the chorus starts at 0:31)
It’s also unlikely I would have done the same thing if Scott hadn’t been with me. Occasionally during my longer training runs in the summer, I would take an extended walk break and start belting out a few lines of “Rainbow Connection,” as interpreted by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Those little performance breaks have become my way of saying “I know you’re there…thanks for not ditching me!”
So there you have it. If you’re ever in my neighborhood before dawn and see me jogging, just hang back a few yards and wait for the show. You never know what you might get!

06 October, 2012

Some Pictures, Just Because

...mostly in case Facebook ever explodes.  Here are some of my race-day (and day after) favorites:






01 October, 2012

Tower 10-Miler Wrap-Up: Things I Want to Remember

Smart Planning:
- The duct tape on my feet held perfectly. The secret: proper placement of the tape, Body Glide on all the edges, and spray antiperspirant on the bottom of my foot. When I pulled my sock off 7 hours later, the tape was perfectly in place, though all of the silver was rubbed off on the spot where the blister usually is.
- I borrowed the clip-on towel from Scott’s golf bag, and clipped it to my belt pack during the race. It was the perfect length to wipe my face, and I was able to tuck the loose end into the belt so it wasn’t flying all over the place.
- Food and drink. I followed the recommendations in the race booklet and it worked perfectly for me. I peed once in a port-a-potty before getting into my corral and then not again until we were back in the hotel room. I packed 2 bags of Craisins and a bottle of water in my belt pack, and only finished about half of what I brought. I had plenty of fuel and water, despite the miserable conditions.
- I got to the race incredibly early and got into my corral early enough to be in the first 100 people across the start line. That was really important, because the “van of shame” race pace starts the clock when the last person crosses the mats so I probably had a 10-minute buffer.

The Weather:
- It was still in the high 70’s when the race started, and was incredibly humid. Though I trained all summer long, we planned our long runs to start around 6 am when it was “only” in the low to mid 70’s. I was grateful that it didn’t rain, but couldn’t believe the amount of sweat pouring off of me once we started running.

The Race:
- The first 1/3 mile was basically up an onramp, and was a spirit crusher for me. I got to the top and was already winded and sweating like a beast. Also, a lot of the faster people who started behind me were passing me so it felt like I was the slowest person on the course. I didn’t think I would make it to Mile 2 without collapsing. I knew I wasn't going to just quit, but very early on I was actually wishing for a twisted ankle so I'd have to stop.
- After the 2-mile sign and a run through the Animal Kingdom toll plaza, there was a water station right before the U-turn to go back up Osceola Parkway the opposite direction. They had run out of cups on one side and were handing out full bottles of water. So I decided to walk a while and drink what I could. And then “Life’s a Happy Song” came on my playlist (which, by the way, is on shuffle so every new song through the whole race was a fun surprise). That song could not have come at a better time, because it instantly put me in a better mood.  "I've got everything that I need...right in front of me..."
- 5K Time: 46:35; Pace: 14:60
- We went past McDonald’s, which smelled like delicious french fries from a distance…but Filet-o-Fish up close. Ick!
- We left Osceola Parkway some time before the 5-mile sign, and the access road we were on at that point was gravel. Most of the people decided to walk this, which seemed a good plan to me. I enjoyed the fast-walk break and the “haunted” scenery we were walking through surrounded by trees. Right at the end of the access road was the one thing I wish I had taken a picture of: a skeleton in a cage…and he was wearing a race bib!
- The run around the Sports Complex was great for me. The whole area is flat, and since that’s where Walking League happens it was sort of like a little homecoming for me. I liked running around the track, and there were still maybe 100 spectators in Champion Stadium when we ran through. They had funny posters and were yelling and screaming, which was good motivation to push onward. I was expecting to see Scott at the stadium, and when he wasn’t there I was really sad. I still smiled running past the event photographers at the exit though!
- 10K Time: 1:39:23; Pace: 15:60
- Scott was actually on the road out of the stadium, which ended up being perfect. I was actually able to go up and give him a soggy hug and a kiss. As I left he yelled that I was doing great and I yelled back, “I KNOW!” I didn’t know whether he was blowing smoke, but I knew that I was almost at mile 7 and still felt pretty good and there were still a lot of people behind me.
- At the exit of the Sports Complex, I decided to take an extended walk break. There was a water station halfway between me and the end of that road, and I decided to fast walk the whole thing. The closer I got to the intersection, the more ready I was to start running. I knew I felt good enough to run the rest of my intervals on Osceola Parkway, and bargained with myself that if I ran that much that I would let myself walk the last mile and change when we were going through the Studios.
- On this last stretch of the course – maybe 2.5 miles? – I became aware of the number of people I was passing. Some were leap-frogging with me because we were doing similar intervals, but there weren’t as many passing me as I was passing.
- Right before the 9-mile sign, there was an older lady in an ECV holding a sign that said “I’m a complete stranger and I’m proud of you too.” It almost made me cry (though I had been near tears about every-other mile the whole way…they had changed to happy near-tears about 3 miles back). I did yell over to her “I love you complete stranger!” and she laughed. She’s probably the thing I’ll hold onto for a long time. I still get misty-eyed thinking about her.
- It turns out I lied to myself when I said I would stop running when we got to the park. There were so many cheering spectators at the Studios that I could barely hear my music or (more importantly) the interval beeps. So every time I heard a beep in my ear, I would start running and then switch back to a walk either when I was tired or I heard the next beep. I’m 100% sure that my final mile was 15 minutes or less.
- We passed a teenage volunteer who told us, “supposedly there’s only ¼ mile left!” His honesty was refreshing, and it was nice to laugh. That last stretch was backstage, and I was still feeling strong. Really, I don’t know how I was doing it. When we turned the corner and actually saw the finish line, I said to no one in particular “Oh my GOD I can’t believe I made it!” I managed to jog the last bit, and crossed the finish line smiling, with my arms up in the air.
- SMILING! AND STILL RUNNING!
- Finish Time: 2:43:14; Pace: 16:19

- After the finish line, the volunteers are there putting the medal around your neck. Then I called Scott, since I didn’t see him at the finish line area, and his phone went straight to voicemail (it was dead). I left him a voicemail that I wish I could save for posterity. All I know for sure is that I said “I just finished. Holy f--- I finished!”
- The rest of the runners-only zone was a mass of confusion for me. Someone handed me a snack box, others had bananas (they were HOT – probably more than 90 degrees. I managed to eat two bites before tossing the rest of it), and I got a bottle of yellow Power Ade. There were runners laying on the ground all over the place, and we actually had to walk up ANOTHER hill to get out. Last stop: official race photographs in front of the backdrop, and then they dumped us out into the party.
- Official Race Result: 7944th place. That might sound awful to anyone who is competitive, but for me even “DFL” would have been a tremendous achievement. (side note: I once saw a picture on Pinterest that says “DFL is better than DNF, which is better than DNS” it became my mantra) The final runner was #8721, which means 777 people finished after I did! Plus, there were maybe another 250 who either didn’t finish or didn’t show up at all.

After I got reunited with Scott, we wandered off to find a quieter spot before trying to call Laura and Richard (who had finished a half hour before me at least). There were people everywhere with ice packs strapped to their legs, sitting on the ground with their shoes off, and otherwise looking miserable. We ran into a girl he knows and she was near tears. I was none of those things. Sure, I was sore and tired, but I got a late adrenaline boost that lasted for a long time and was happy about everything! When we found Laura and Richard (very near where I had been in the first place…sigh!) we sat at a table and ate salty food and talked about the race. They ran the whole thing, so we had very different experiences. We ended up not doing any rides or character photos, and I never even bothered to change into my dry clothes. Really though, it was a great night, and I left the park very very happy.

I never did manage to have the “ugly cry” I expected to have at the finish line, and as a result I’ve been randomly leaking tears ever since. Really, by nature I’m not a goal setter. I’ve always been more of a “try it until it gets hard” type. So the fact that I did this still is hard to wrap my head around. All it takes is for anyone (just ask the people in my office) to say they’re proud of me and my throat gets tight all over again. Yesterday I was getting so many “congrats” on Facebook that the notifications were nonstop. I told Scott it was like my birthday, “but I earned it,” which made it so much better!

My hips hurt, my hamstrings are tight, and I have two HUGE blisters in places on my feet I’ve never even had red spots before. I’m pleasantly shocked they didn’t pop during the race. I also have a friction burn the size of a dime under my boob, we think from one of the safety pins for my race bib. Other than that, I feel good. My knees and ankles are fine, as are my calves, shins, and back. I am going to enjoy the heck out of this week, skipping the gym and sleeping in until a luxurious 6:30, and then take it easy at the gym for the two weeks after that. I’m going to wear old sneakers and do the elliptical on my cardio days instead of the treadmill to really give my blisters a chance to heal as completely as possible before training starts back up again for the Princess!

Up next:
November 10: Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K. It’s through Animal Kingdom and it’s Christmas-themed…how could I resist??
December 2: Color Run Orlando (hopefully…they still haven’t opened up registration yet). Scott said he’d do this one with me. They say it’s fun, crowded, and messy!
February 24: Princess Half Marathon

I’d also like to find a 10K or 15K to do in January, just to fill in that gap a little and to do a longer run that doesn’t require Scott to follow me on the bike!

29 September, 2012

So Here We Are

Well, my big racing debut is tonight.  The weather, it seems, is not going to be in my favor.  Rain this evening, supposedly ending by 8, isn't going to do much to lower the temperature.  According to WFTV, at 10 pm it'll be 76 with 81% humidity.  I trained in just about those exact conditions all summer, but never very well!  I was really hoping for low 70's like we had earlier this week.  This Indian Summer crap is for the birds.

I feel like I have done everything that was in my control.  Good shoes, good tunes... and hopefully the duct tape will hold up!  My belt pack is ready to go with Craisins, water, and a clip-on towel (thank you to Scott's dusty old golf bag for the last-minute addition!).  I bought an arm band for my phone, but it's uncomfortable and since I want the ability to take pictures on the course I'm just going to carry it just like I did on all of my practice runs.  If I decide not to carry it, I will store it in my bra (I have a snack size ziploc bag to protect it from sweat).

This week I was caught completely off-guard by the love and support coming from unexpected places.  Phone calls and emails from people I don't talk to often... last-minute advice and support from my "fit" Facebook friends... and one incredibly cute picture of a kid dedicated to me.  I cried at work, cried in the car, cried at home... but I think that's out of my system now.

So we're about 11 hours from the starting line right now, which means probably 14 hours until the whole thing is over.  I still think there's a chance I'm going to finish.  I also acknowledge that there's a chance I won't.  I mean, what if my feet get soaked before or during the race?  Will I be able to ignore that?  I never had to train in anything harder than a light rain.  What if I can't nap or relax enough during the day and all of that race adrenaline gets used up just keeping me awake?  What if my duct tape doesn't hold?  This is the time to just push through pain and injuries...but I'm such a wuss about my feet.  What if I just plain old didn't train hard enough?

...then you won't finish, and the sun will still come up tomorrow, and after a week of sleeping in training will start for the Princess with all those lessons learned.  And instead of a traditional smoothie at the end of this run, there will be a medal, a banana, and then whatever deep-fried crap I feel like eating.  Oh, and a party at the Studios with a bunch of villains.

Still reading?  I know, I'm rambling.  And I still have a lot to go before I forget.

I did the math a week ago, and I figure I ran about 140 miles training for this race.  Actually, of those miles I probably actually ran about 40 and walked the rest.  I'm now on my third pair of shoes in 6 months (though to be fair the first pair of shoes was probably 4 years old), my thighs have worn out 2 pairs of knit biker shorts (that go under another pair of shorts...no one needs to see my butt in a sausage casing!), and I have a whole rainbow collection of "active" shirts from Target.  And just let me say it one more time:  140 miles.

One last thing before I go.  I don't feel at all guilty about Scott waking up at 5:30 four days a week to go to the gym with me.  He needs it just as much as I do, and though we don't ever really work out together, I think it's enough that we motivate each other to get out of bed in the morning.  That said, I think that getting up at 5ish every single Saturday morning is really above and beyond the call of duty.  He drives me over to the trail, bikes behind me, listens to my whining, hands me water, worries about me, and then lets my stinky sweaty self back into his car to come home again.  And as if all of that wasn't enough, yesterday we got to the race expo to pick up my race packet, parked in the far reaches of the Sports Complex parking lot, and walked 1/2 mile in the pouring rain (uphill, both directions).  At least this whole time I've been working toward a tangible goal/reward.  He's been the damn wind beneath my wings.  So...thanks for that.  I'm pretty sure I would have fizzled long before now without the support.

OK that's it.  This blog post is inevitably going to cut into my football/napping time scheduled to start at noon.  It's going to be a long weekend, so there will be no blog posts at least until Monday... but knowing me it'll probably be longer than that.  I'm planning on sending pictures and possibly some poorly-typed words to Twitter during the race tonight, so you can keep up with me there if you want.

Wish me good luck, dry feet, and strong legs!

22 September, 2012

FAcT Check

As of Thursday, my weight loss is a total of 23 pounds. My original long-term goal was 100ish, so I guess that means I'm 1/4ish of the way there.

It's time for our annual "wellness rewards" at work, so I did some checking on the BMI calculator at WebMD and came up with some hard numbers to keep in mind:

PAST - BMI as of 4/1/12: 38.6
PRESENT - BMI as of 9/20/12: 35.1
GOAL 1 – 5% reduction for $150 wellness rewards – BMI of 33.34 (-12 lbs)
GOAL 2 – non-obese BMI of 29.8 (-35 lbs)
GOAL 3 – “healthy” BMI of 24.8 (-68 lbs)

It turns out I wasn't far off with my original "100ish" goal after all! I still don't have a timeline, but it's not unrealistic to think I'm a year away from that. As long as I keep losing, I really don't care how long it takes!

15 September, 2012

Longest Run Yet

I did 9 miles yesterday afternoon... on the treadmill.  I'm getting over yet another sinus thing, and really thought I'd be better off on the treadmill in the air conditioning than running outside in the humidity and heat.  I think it was the right call.

For nothing but my own record, here are my mile times, followed by the 16 minute/mile "scoop time" for the race:

One: 14.55...16.00
Two: 29.28...32.00
Three: 44.26...48.00
Four: 59.36...64.00
Five: 75.56...80.00
Six:  93.44...96.00
Seven:  111.40...112.00
Eight:  132.30...128.00
Nine: 154.40...144.00
Ten: n/a...160.00

This weekend's run was actually supposed to be 11 miles.  It's the last long run before the race, and I'm guessing the 11th mile is so that a normal beginner runner would know that they have enough in the tank to complete the whole route on race day.  Unfortunately for me, I had a problem I haven't had before:  I completely ran out of gas.  In fact, I came dangerously close to passing out in the shower after I quit.  I'm fairly confident that if I had stayed on the treadmill long enough to complete the 10th mile I would have passed out...and wouldn't that have been embarrassing?

Believe it or not, I am very happy with my results for a few different reasons.

1. The new shoes are a God-send for my toes.  I didn't get any new toe blisters, and my toes didn't feel like they were being crushed.
2. The duct tape over my existing blisters didn't completely hold, but I got through the run.  I didn't wash my feet before putting on the tape, and didn't use powder or antiperspirant to keep my feet dry, so I think if I do that I'll be golden...or at least silver (har har).
3. My lungs still aren't at 100%.  Of course, there's no guarantee they will be two weeks from today (!), but if they are I'll be able to push a little more.
4. I screwed up my meals yesterday.  I had a smoothie for breakfast, and a pb&j sandwich around 10:00 (plus a quart of Gatorade) and started running just about noon.  I run with a little bag of Craisins, but I was trying to be discreet with them in the gym, and only ate 1/2 the bag before I gave up.  According to the calorie counter on the treadmill, I burned about 1,000 calories, which was more than I had available to burn.  On race day, I'll be having a big bowl of pasta for lunch and then probably 2 peanut butter sandwiches before the actual race starts. 
5. They are allowing spectators into Champion Stadium at the sports complex, and we run around the field there between miles 6-7.  I'll be disappointed if I don't make it that far (so Scott can take a tiny blurry picture of me), and elated if I make it to the finish line.  Based on yesterday's times, I would have been scooped after mile 7.
6. I haven't had a good run since my 5-mile long run 2 months ago.  I was sidelined by 2 colds, plus countless blisters and other assorted foot problems.  None of my old problems came back to haunt me yesterday, and the new problem was really just poor pre-planning.  Worst-case scenario, the water stops have some "gu" available.  I'd prefer to stick with what I know won't bother my stomach (btw, I CAN NOT drink anything but water while I'm running...sport drinks, even watered down, are like ipecac for me), but I'll do what I have to to not lose my steam like I did yesterday.
7. We've been out of the gym for more than a month (see point 6, plus vacation), and I've been running at home in the mornings.  We'll be back in the gym on Monday morning, which will allow me to push a little harder on the treadmill AND give me the other two days to work on weights.  I know I'll do better if I can get a little stronger over the next 2 weeks.

I wish the race was an extra 2 weeks away.  I really feel like if I had one more long run I could fine-tune the rest of my issues and be completely prepared for race day.  However, I'm going to follow the program and do a 3-mile run next weekend and give my muscles (and blisters) more time to heal.

I give myself a 25-50% chance of actually completing all 10 miles on race day.  People keep saying "think positive" and other helpful platitudes, I think because they think I'm discouraged.  Really though, look at how far I've come in the past six months.  I'm freakin' doing this, and really? That's still awesome.

Oh, and one other thing to note: I got on the scale at the gym yesterday before my run, just to see what sort of weight gain happened in my month out of the gym.  It turns out I was still losing.  I'm down 21 pounds!  It's been 20+ weeks, so it's not really a drastic loss, especially considering how much I still have to go, but it's still going in the right direction.

05 September, 2012

How Can This Be True?

This kid started kindergarten today.

Yes, I cried when I saw the picture with the pigtails and the backpack and the smile...how can she be school-age already?

30 August, 2012

Scott's Birthday Cruise-o-Fun

We're back from a 5-night cruise on the Disney Dream.  During TS Isaac.  It seemed like almost everything didn't quite go the way we had expected, and in a few ways it was probably our worst cruise, but the worst cruise is probably still better than the best day at work!

Our Stateroom was definitely the worst we've ever had.  The toilet would only flush when it felt like, which was especially problematic when I was going through some wicked lower intestinal problems on the first night.  (thing Scott probably never wants to hear again in the middle of the night: "I pooped and the toilet won't flush, so you should probably pee in the tub until further notice.")  It did flush in the morning...and then started overflowing!  We also had two different problems with the TV.

Our neighbors were so loud!  We had a connecting door with a family with a little 3-4 year old girl who was a very early riser.  She woke us up the first two mornings screaming and squealing, and we never so much as heard a "shh" from the parents.  Scott may have accidentally kicked off his shoes late at night and launched them into that wall, but I'm sure he didn't mean to...  We were also very close to the mid-ship elevators, and there seemed to be a constant parade of people running and yelling outside our door.

Pirate night ended up lasting three nights.  The original plan was to have pirate night on day 3, but they had to scrap that in the afternoon...when it was too late to change the menu.  So pirate dinner was on day 3, and then the pirate party was on day 4...but there was some sort of technical problem with the fireworks.  So they finally did the pirate fireworks on day 4.

Snorkeling was a mixed bag.  My breathing tube kept getting water in it, so I got better at blowing water out the top.  Due to the storm and the rough time we had pulling into Castaway Cay (more on that to come), visibility in the first half of the snorkel lagoon was essentially zero.  We were right next to one of the buoys marking a cool thing below and could not see a thing, and we were frustrated and annoyed.  We decided to swim up to the next buoy just for the exercise, and 5 feet later we were in clear water with tons of fish.  We saw the sunken ship, the submarine, and the Mickey statue.  AND Scott taught me how to dive down without drowning, so I was able to go down and touch Mickey's hand.  Victory!!  Things didn't go quite so well on the way back in.  We were going against the current, and it was really hard to get in.  Scott also had some sand or something in the top of his fin, and ended up with an impressive scrape across the top of his foot that gets rubbed by every pair of shoes he owns. 

I ran, but not the way I had planned.  The plan was to do the "Castaway 5k" on our first Castaway day, and I went and signed in and got my bib and waited...and waited...  It took us 3 hours to pull into Castaway, so the 5k ended up being cancelled.  Since I was already dressed, I decided to run around deck 4.  I did 2 miles, and then got showered and changed for the island.  They did the 5k again on the second Castaway day, but it interfered with our last chance to watch Brave in the theater, so I woke up at 6 and ran 3.2 miles (8 laps) on the deck.  The bonus to running on deck was the great breeze, which I've heard you don't get at all on the island.

We had great table mates at dinner, and our servers were really good as well.  The food was good, and we had a few things that were clean-plate-club good.  We did Palo for brunch and dinner on Scott's birthday, and our server had only been on the ship for 4 months.  She was incredibly nice, and you could tell she was still pretty green.  She made some really great recommendations, and we loved pretty much everything.  The only downside of Palo was the crappy weather.  We should've been looking out on blue skies and bluer seas, and instead were shrouded in gray mist that made me a little panicky and claustrophobic.

There's lots more I could share, but I've got to get ready for work. 

18 August, 2012

Man Feet

Today's 8-mile run turned into a 5-mile run/walk followed by a 3 mile hobble.  The blisters came back in force, despite new socks, body glide, and a whole week out of the gym due to an upper-respiratory infection.  I was furious with my feet, in tears more from frustration than pain (but also pain).  I knew the problem was my shoes.  After 5 miles, my feet would swell and my toes were basically curled over each other because there wasn't enough room in the shoe.  And so, everything after mile 5 was an exercise in will power rather than running power.

So we went back to the shoe store.  I brought my shoes (carried them - today was definitely a flip flop day) and got help immediately, despite the store's 20% off sale causing huge crowds.  The guy who helped me measured my foot and immediately noticed that my right foot is wider than the left.  My response: "that explains all the blisters on my right foot!"  He measured me again, cocked his head to the side and asked that question every gal dreams someday she'll hear: "are you opposed to a men's shoe?"

Sigh...I said I'd be willing to give it a shot, secretly hoping that he'd go back and find something pink and sparkly.  Instead, he returned with 2 pairs of Brooks (what I currently have).  The first pair was black and red.  Mostly black.  I put them on and walked the store, grudgingly admitting that they were comfortable.  I tried the second pair, which were gray and bright blue (I told Scott hot pink laces would make them fabulous).  Even these were tighter in the toes than I wanted to go.  So he put me back in the ugly black and red pair and told me to go out and jog a little while on the sidewalk.  I went out and jogged 1/2 block, came back, and accepted my fate.  "The ugly shoes are perfect."  I had plenty of space to spread out my toes, and the rest of the shoe fit my foot perfectly.

Since my left (slightly narrower) foot has barely had any blisters, I am hopeful that the new wider shoe will eventually allow my right foot to heal and I won't have this kind of problem again.

In case you're wondering what sort of damage causes a girl to give up all of her pride and buy the ugliest shoes she's ever seen, I'm including a picture of the bottom of my foot after the jump.  (there's no blood, just callouses and blisters)

13 August, 2012

A Summer to Remember

I'm home sick today with every flu symptom except a fever, so it's probably no surprise that logging into my Penn State account this morning and seeing this made me cry...actual tears.


To be frank, I don't understand the A in my Employment Law class.  My final grade according to the "grade book" link on the course website was a 91.59%, and the syllabus indicates that an A is 95% and above.  That said, I'm certainly not going to ask the professor about it!  I'm going to happily assume that the final grades were curved and that's where the discrepancy is. 

Bring on ECON 315...I'm ready!

11 August, 2012

Academia

I thought I'd preserve for posterity a section of the last paper I had to write for my Industrial/Organizational Psychology class this semester.  The lesson was on stress and coping, and the assignment required us to choose a movie from a provided list and answer a few questions relating to the lesson material.  I chose "The Firm," mostly because I read the book a million years ago and had never seen the movie.  I think that's all the introduction you'll need.

3. What types of strain did this lead to (job-related, emotional, physiological)? Describe the specific examples that came up in the movie.

Mitch experienced all three types of strain in the movie. The job-related strain, with changes in performance and behavior at work, manifests when he sneaks out of his office, steals files, and lies to his bosses. Emotional strain, with signs of irritability, burnout, and decreased patience, is obvious throughout the second half of the movie. Mitch argues with his wife and is suspicious of everyone around him. I mention physiological strain rather tongue-in-cheek. Cardiovascular symptoms show up the same way they do in every Tom Cruise movie: when he starts running everywhere he goes.

I got a 100% on the paper.

28 July, 2012

Running Lessons Learned

The alarm went off at 05:00 this morning, and Scott and I got up and moving shortly after that.  Today's goal: the 6-mile run I failed at last weekend.  I managed to finish the run in 1:32.12, which is only 2 minutes slower than my goal pace and 4 minutes faster than the 16 minute/mile pace I need for the races.  I did learn a lot of little things that I wanted to record for future reference. 

  1. The early bird also catches the fish.  We saw an osprey fly over clutching a hefty breakfast in its talons.
  2. Bullfrog aerosol sunblock is only sweatproof for up to five miles.  The last mile, the only reason I was still running was the motivation to get back to the towel in the car and wipe my stinging eyes!
  3. Four miles is about as far as I can go without refueling.  Next week I'm going to pack some almonds and raisins for a quick boost.  Today I got a little bit light-headed around mile 4.5, and the last .5 mile my feet were like lead.
  4. Awesome recovery food: smoothie of chocolate soy milk (the light kind), banana, and a big honkin' spoonful of peanut butter.  It was as thick as a milkshake, and with a good amount of calcium, potassium, and protein.  (down side: too much sugar)
  5. Don't forget the bug spray!  I got some OFF with Deet, which kept the yellow flies away (I still have a welt from the bites I got 2 weeks ago), but there are a lot of bugs out there!  I had a dead gnat stuck to my face under my eye...and I'm pretty sure it actually drowned in the sweat on my face!
  6. Oh, the sweat! By the end of today's run, I had one dry spot on my shirt, near the bottom where my underwear/shorts/shorts were between my skin and the shirt. Also, my ponytail was soaked from my scalp to an inch below the rubber band AND 4" up from the bottom from the head sweat and neck sweat.
Even after a one-hour nap, I'm still tired.  My fingers and feet still feel pretty swollen, and I don't actually know what to do about that.  I'm also still having blister issues.  Of the seven (seven!!) blisters on my foot, four are right under existing old calloused blisters.  The others are small, but in places I wasn't expecting them to be.  Only one hurts.

All in all, I'm happy with today's results.  Next week is 7 miles, but I think I'll be stronger with the lessons I learned this week.

19 July, 2012

Revenge of Tooth 19

This is the third in an ongoing series of ridiculousness that goes back more than five years.  You can read parts one and two as well. When we last left our heroine, she was recovering from gum surgery and waiting for a new permanent crown on tooth 19.  At that point, I already knew I wouldn't be returning to CHARLES PIKE IN OAKLAND, FL (hello, Googlers), having been disappointed with all of his work on both me and Scott except for my wisdom tooth extractions.  So I paid what I had to to get the crown completed, and crossed my fingers that I wouldn't need any further dental work before the new calendar year when I could find a new dentist.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a little bit of the familiar "old man denture smell" coming from that side of my mouth, but it never once occurred to me that the cause was the same ol' tooth.  Today, I was given a bag of Swedish Fish and grabbed a few after finishing my lunch.  I bit down on one on the left side of my mouth, and when my mouth opened I felt the crown lift right out of my mouth.

umm...yeah...

For those of you doing the mental math, that's less than eleven months.

My "permanent crown," after two dentists, an endodontist, and a periodontist, lasted less than eleven months.

I called the new dentist and they were able to squeeze me in this afternoon.  And then I started reading up on my dental benefits.  I knew that they wouldn't pay anything else for the crown for that tooth for 5 years, and I sure as heck knew I wouldn't be returning to CHARLES PIKE IN OAKLAND, FL even though the crown was still under some sort of warranty there.  By the time I got to the dentist, I had pretty much decided that if this was going to be anything more than a simple re-cementing that I was going to have the tooth removed and would get an implant (for which insurance would pay 50%).

Thank goodness the tooth stump was not cracked or decayed, and the dentist was able to re-cement the existing crown back into place (with something a little stronger than Elmer's... I asked!).  My mouth is still a little sore, having been poked and prodded and scraped, but not even enough to warrant taking any ibuprofen.

To be continued...?

04 July, 2012

Less Fat: A 14-Week Progress Report

Yesterday I capped off my personal-best 2-mile time (28.29 minutes) with a second visit to the back room of the gym where they do your measurements.  I didn't actually have them measure me again, because eww - I didn't even want to touch or smell myself at that point, but I wanted to do the little video game where you squeeze the machine and it tells you your body fat percent.  It's still high - well above obese high - but it is 4.7 percentage points lower than it was when I started.

Also, I asked them last week for a copy of my original measurements form and never got around to taking comparison measurements.  But I happen to have a tape measure here, so let's see where we are:

Chest (assuming that was an above-the-boob measurement): -3"
Bicep: +.25"
Waist: -3"
Hips: -3.75"
Thigh: no G.D. change!
Calf: -1"

Body Fat Percentage: -4.7
BMI: -3.3

Well, I guess the thigh and bicep measurements explain why I'm still for the most part fitting in my existing clothes.  Still, even if I'm only 15 pounds lighter (ok, 13.5 - I ate A LOT last weekend with Jackie) I'm still really happy with most of these numbers.

...aaaaand I see where I need to work.  I don't understand how running 6 or more miles every week could not shrink my thighs, but I'll be looking for something that will!

02 July, 2012

Now That's What I Call Customer Service

I called Sirius-XM this afternoon because my most recent promotional rate was about to expire.  What follows is a partial transcript of the conversation:

Me: Hi, I'm calling to do that thing where I say I'm going to cancel my subscription and then you offer me a better rate.
Customer Service Rep: Umm...wow...ok...
{pause while he checks on my existing package}

CSR: Well, things have changed since your last subscription.  We only have packages for a full year.  Let's see... I have one for $96 and one for $83.
Me: And what's the difference between the two? (expecting one to include internet radio or something)
CSR: One is 40% off and the other is 50% off. Most people would choose the 50% off option.
{blah blah blah}

CSR: (going through his script) And to summarize, you called today to cancel your subscription because you were unhappy with your rate?
Me: Yes, that's exactly right.

Really, I only want to keep the service through November because I'm in love with the POTUS channel and am a cyclical political junkie, but I get 8 bucks a month of enjoyment out of the service so I decided to go for it.  Needless to say, I chose the 50% off option. 

I was worried that if I actually told the truth that they would shoot me down.  Instead, I gave the CSR his laugh of the day, and still got what I wanted and he gets a stat that says he kept someone from cancelling.  Win-Win!

28 June, 2012

Just a List

Where to start?  Well, training is going fine.  I did a 4-mile run last weekend in 1:01.38.  I was hoping to complete in an hour or under, but this time is still under the 16 minute/mile pace I need for the race.  I had an epiphany of sorts on the treadmill yesterday.  I realized I needed to start pushing myself more on my indoor run days, so that my stamina will be there for the longer runs.  I also managed to increase my intervals to 25/35.  I tried 30/30 a few weeks back and thought I was going to die, so I've been at 20/40 ever since. 

Of course, with the longer runs, recovery time is starting to feel more important.  I have fairly mild shin splints that were actually sensitive to the touch until yesterday.  I still feel them with every running step I take.  I'm going to the chiropractor today, and can't wait to see how misaligned I am.

This weekend's run is only two miles, and since Jackie is in town I plan to run around the resort we're staying at.  It'll be weird to not have Scott biking down my heels, but I'm actually looking forward to going out solo.  Next weekend: 5 miles.

Oh, and my new quirk: watching the Olympic track & field trials on TV and referring to the runners as "my people."  Of course, the shot-putters are closer to my shape, but don't tell me that!

In non-runner news, I was covering another department's training while they were backfilling their training person who ran screaming to another position for all of April and May, and the beginning of June.  It was challenging, and I wasn't amazing for their area.  They needed more attention than I could give them, and their training scores suffered.  I know I'm not really to blame for that, but it was still tough for me to deal with.  I'm glad they are off my plate (except for the daily questions from the new training person, which I'm happy to answer) and am looking forward to starting a new and interesting project...once one comes along.

10 June, 2012

The Great Outdoors

I'm going to say something now that I never ever ever expected to say:  I think I might enjoy running outside better than running on the treadmill.

Sure, the weather is difficult.  73 degrees first thing in the morning isn't that hot, but the 90% humidity is definitely oppressive.  Outside, I also have bugs, people, cars, and an occasional pet to contend with.  But I also have a changing view.  I can focus on the running rather than on the treadmill timer telling me when my interval is ending.  I can't actually see the exact distance traveled every second, or the speed I'm going, so I just focus on what feels right at the time.

Yesterday, we were planning on heading over to the 2.5 mile trail around Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness.  We loaded up Scott's bike, and got out early enough to avoid the rain.  It started sprinkling while we were driving, so instead of driving another 20 minutes, we decided to just go through Independence.  We plotted a 1-mile course (yesterday's prescribed run was 2 miles - so this was an out & back) starting at the school.  The area around the school was dead silent and picturesque, but that early in the morning the neighborhoods we went through weren't much different.  We saw a really small alligator in a pond, some construction guys up on a roof, and not a whole lot of other creatures stirring.

Two miles is what I generally do in my 30-minute "conditioning runs" on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I knew I'd be ok with that distance.  I've been doing intervals of 20 seconds running/40 seconds walking, and this really seems to work the best for me.  If I try longer running intervals, I can barely make it through 5 minutes before I'm winded and my face turns purple.  Even at 20/40, I've never gone the full half hour on the treadmill without skipping a run interval or two on the second half.  During yesterday's run, I hit every single interval, and really only half-assed the last one (which was up a pretty steep hill - I felt like I was jogging in place!).  I did the entire run in 30.15, which even on the treadmill would be a decent time for me.   My first mile was 15.05 minutes, which is almost a minute faster than my first outdoor mile last week.

Right now, I'd say realistically there's a 50-50 chance I'll complete all 10 miles of my race in time. But there's 17 weeks between now and then.  Anything can happen.  Next week's run is 3 miles, and Scott and I are both leaning toward going back to Independence.  This will be my first more-than-a-half-hour run, and I'm really excited about it.  

01 June, 2012

MILEstone

Just a quick update for posterity:

Yesterday, I ran my first mile in 13.58 minutes. 

Previously, my fastest mile was "14-something" in high school.  Now I can definitely state that this was my fastest mile ever.  Of course, I celebrated with shin splints and a blister on my in-step caused by my insoles shifting.

The official training plan started this week, which means tomorrow is my first Saturday outdoor run.  It's only a mile, but I know "real" running is slower than treadmill running.  I'll be happy to finish it in 15 minutes.

I need to grab my paperwork from the gym and start a progress chart.  I started exercising the first week of April, and when I first started my interval training my mile time was right around 16 minutes.  That means I dropped 2 minutes off my time in 2 months.  I realize that's a progress curve that'll start to level off, but right now I'm pleasantly shocked at my progress.

Now I just need to string 9 more of those together and I'll be ready for my race!  18 weeks to go... yikes!

21 May, 2012

Meet Huevo

Picture it: you're leaving a wedding reception in downtown Orlando, dressed in fancy clothes and full of lunch and sweets.  You see a tiny baby bird on the sidewalk, flapping its wing stumps, mouth open wide with no sound coming out. 

Welcome to the moment where my life temporarily turned on its ear.

I looked around for a frantic bird momma, and when I didn't see her I scooped up the baby.  Scott and I eventually found the nest, about 10-15 feet up a tree.  I left the chick with Scott and went back into the restaurant we had just left to see if they had access to a ladder.  Apparently they did, but couldn't let me use it because of liability issues.  I called Animal Control, but they were closed.  We sat on a bench, Scott still holding the tiny (now sleeping) chick, and tried to come up with a game plan.  We figured our only options were to put the bird back in the grass at the base of the tree and pretend the mother would realize it was there and take care of it, or take it with us and try to come up with a better plan.  You know, one where the bird lived through the night.

It was a long car ride home, especially since every time I talked the little dude would start begging again!  I texted my mom and got the recipe for baby bird food that we used when I was little and we raised wild baby birds.  Recipe in hand, we stopped at the store and I sat in the car while Scott went in for the most random shopping list ever: hard-boiled egg, wheat germ, canned dog food, and liquid baby vitamins.  We got him home, built him a nest (which he promptly pooped in), fed him, and then tried to figure out the next step.
It's been two days, and we're still sort of dealing with him one day at a time.  I named him Huevo, and since he's a blackbird (or some other type of black bird), Scott decided Huevo Negro was better.  Mostly, he just answers to "PEEP!"

Huevo's left leg is either broken or dislocated (you can see the bump in the bottom picture), and judging by his lack of feathers and closed eyes, I'm pretty sure he's less than a week old.  For this reason, I decided not to immediately try to research wildlife rehab centers.  I have a pretty strong feeling that he would be too much work for a non-profit.  If he survives to the point where his wings feather up and he gets a little mobility, then I'll find him a new foster family. 

Realistically, I don't think he's going to make it.  And I've been crying about that multiple times a day since we found him.  But I'm certainly not going to give up on him.  He eats enthusiastically, peeps when he's hungry, poops when he's not, and flaps his little wings when the food is too slow getting from the bowl to his mouth.  It's pretty normal.  So for now, I'll just be in love with this tiny, fuzzy, bug-eyed baby and worry about him 18 times a day.


he fell asleep sitting up after Scott fed him

his wing feathers are sprouting


10 May, 2012

Sidelined

First of all, you're welcome. 

See, more than anything, I want to document in large-format digital photos the horrible wounds I have on my feet.  But I'm not going to, so you're welcome.

...I didn't say I wasn't going to talk about them though, so feel free to click away now.  If you leave, here's a random Classic Jamie political post instead.

Scott and I visited Typhoon Lagoon on Monday, and I took a wave in the wave pool... I guess you could say poorly.  Somehow I got pushed a fair distance, dragging the tops of my feet along the concrete bottom.  I got scrapes on the side of my left foot, and the outside of my right big toe.  Since they were only scrapes, and since I was in a big old vat of chlorine, I ignored the stinging and kept on diving under the waves.

Tuesday morning, I bandaged up my wounds and headed off to run two miles at the gym (14.44 minute mile, my new PB).  Wednesday, I skipped the gym because I had to work early, but then walked 2.5 miles outside with Scott at the Walking League.  And then I came home and cried.  It turns out I'd gotten very good at ignoring the scrapes on my feet and hadn't paid attention to the pain or the oozing.

The scrape on my big toe is long and ugly, but a bandage is keeping it covered and it doesn't look that bad.  The one on my left foot, on the other hand, is about the size of a pencil eraser, and is currently a crater 1/2 full of green.  It reminds me of every skinned knee or elbow I had in my entire childhood.  The appearance icked Scott out enough that he actually smelled it tonight.  Good news: my feet aren't too stinky, and my wound doesn't smell like the garbage can.  That side of the foot feels badly bruised though, which is what worries me.  I realized this afternoon that my normal work shoes have an edge right about where this non-scab is, which is probably why I was weepy all morning.  Tomorrow I'm wearing my old shoes with a different shape.

Scott, upon having to baby me last night, suggested I skip the gym today.  And I did, though I hated (not) doing it.  He thinks my feet don't need to be squeezed in the shoes, and that my skin needs a few days off to actually scab over.  I'm following orders, but I'm already feeling sluggish.  I'm sidelining myself until Monday at the latest, unless this morphs into a doctor-worthy injury.

02 May, 2012

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Spring 2012 GPA: 3.84
This is officially the highest GPA I've had in my collegiate life (previous part-time summer semesters were both in the 3.6 area), and I freaking earned it!  I realized before I started my final labor class project that anything from a 76-100% was still going to earn me an A-, and that really took the pressure off.  I admit that I phoned in that last project (I got an 83), but sometimes there's just no benefit to busting your butt.  Oh, and my psychology final grade was a 96.  I don't think I've ever rocked a class so hard!  Speaking of busting my butt...

May 1: 2 Miles in 31m 33s
Sure that's a snail's pace for anyone in the moderate fitness range, but this was my first time doing run-walk intervals for a full 30 minutes (plus a little to finish that second mile).  These were 10s run-50s walk intervals, and I finished feeling strong, like I could've done another mile before passing out and sliding off the treadmill.  Oh, this time also averages less than a 16 minute mile, which is race pace.  Not bad for just a month of pseudo-training!  Two down, eight to go!

I'm not really losing any weight to speak of.  As of this morning, I'm still down just 6 pounds from when I started.  But I'm only really doing cardio two days a week right now, and since I'm doing two days of weight training, I'm buying into the "you're building muscle, which will burn more fat in the long run" propaganda.  Who knows what the truth is?  Some days I love it, other days I trudge through.  Ironically enough, it's the running days I really enjoy.  Who would've thought a month ago that would be the case?

February 2013: Where Will You Be?
I've been thinking for a while that if training for the 10-miler is going well in July, I'll probably sign up for the Princess 1/2 Marathon.  (umm...registration starts in July...thought I should clarify the random month)  My boss has run the Princess before, and said if I signed up she would do it too.  And just by mentioning it to two high school friends last night on Facebook (and following it up with a picture of the finisher medal on Pinterest), I think I might actually have made two new running buddies.  Who doesn't love the idea of running in a tiara??

So, it's been just about a month in the gym, 40-60 minutes per day, 4 days per week.  I feel good and strong, I know my endurance has improved, and I have more confident days that I'll meet my goal than doubting days.  I'm pretty sure that unless I really start dieting I won't meet my weight loss goal, but who knows what the next 5 months will bring? Here's some dates circled on my calendar:

First day of Summer semester: May 13
First "official" training day on the Galloway training plan: May 29
Registration opens for the Princess 1/2: July 10

Last day of Summer semester: August 8
Happy Birthday Scott: August 26
First day of Fall semester: August 27
Last day for $100 weight loss bonus: September 15
Tower of Terror 10-miler: September 29

28 April, 2012

New Shoes

Scott and I finally made it over to Track Shack (where literally every local told me to go for "real" shoes) and came out with new shoes we're very happy with.

Scott's are New Balance, and look almost exactly like his current sneakers, but apparently feel like they were custom-made for his feet.

Mine are Brooks, which I had never heard of before, but are apparently a pretty decent and well-known company.  They are definitely the shiniest shoes I've ever owned.  Trust me - the flash washed out the color, but if you click on that link above you'll see a lot of different silvers in the shoe.  I think they're going to work really well for me.  I felt them pushing my feet the way they should be, and there's room in the toe and they're snug on the heel.  I figure I'll wear them on my short theme park outing tomorrow, just to make sure they're not blistery (yes, for my feet this is a legitimate adjective to describe a shoe) before I hit the gym with them on Monday morning.

Woo...now running will be easier and I'll have more energy and I'll be thin!

...right?

Oh, ok.  Well as long as my feet and ankles hurt less...

17 April, 2012

The Elusive "It"

"It" doesn't happen overnight.  You don't see it or feel it right away.  I knew that.

But somehow by week 3 I thought it would be more apparent.

Note: beyond the break is an extended whine.  It's ok if you stop reading now.

03 April, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

I wish I had a picture...I think you'd be impressed.  Somehow Scott and I both landed on the idea that we wanted fried egg sandwiches for dinner tonight...but with a twist: eggs over-easy.

For Scott: sandwiches with egg, cheese, bacon, tomato, and mayo on wheat burger buns; plus a green salad with blue cheese dressing and 1/2 piece of leftover bacon crumbled in.  (because, frankly, if you're eating your salads without bacon and blue cheese you're doing it wrong! or you're just eating a normal pedestrian salad)

For me: egg, cheese, bacon, and tomato on wheat cooked like a grilled cheese.  Oops...squished the sandwich and some yolk ran out and cooked on the outside.  DON'T PRESS ON THE SANDWICH AFTER FLIPPING IT, STUPID!  My salad was the same as Scott's...with the addition of another over-easy egg smashed into it.

People, you need to run out right now and make this for yourselves!  Poached egg would be good, if you're capable of poaching.  Use less dressing than you would otherwise, because the egg makes everything richer and creamier and WHY DO MORE PLACES NOT SERVE SALAD LIKE THIS?  I mean, if you're going to put hard-boiled, fart-smelling egg on a salad, this is the same calories only awesome!

So...is it obvious from my stream of consciousness that my brain is fried?  Maybe poached...I don't know!  I'm still plugging along with school.  It's the last month of the semester, so I'm keeping my eyes on the prize.  My psychology grade is over 96%, which still makes me laugh when I think about it, and my labor grade is currently 92.66% (an A-without-the-minus is 93.1%, so that's my goal).  I've blown a few essays for this class, so I'm not completely confident that I won't do something colossally stupid between now and the end of the month, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

Also?  Started working out for real this week.  In the morning before work.  This morning we got out the door a little late, but I was able to do just under 40 minutes on the treadmill (including warm up/cool down) and walked a little over 2 miles.  Add that to the leg weight workout I did on Monday, and I'm now having difficulty straightening my legs completely!  It's ok though - it's not pain so much as annoyance.  Tomorrow I'm learning the upper body circuit, which totally kicked Scott's ass the first time, so I'm hesitant.  Then cardio/treadmill on Thursday, and Friday I'll either wake up at the same time and do homework or sleep in for an hour.

I changed my work schedule, and now don't start until 9.  This means Scott and I get each other out the door to work out before work.  Two days in, and our only problem seems to be underestimating the time it takes to get over there.  Tomorrow my appointment with the trainer is at 6:40...and my alarm is set for 5.  If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get a quick hot soak in before bed.

15 March, 2012

Spam of a Different Color

Apparently registering online for a distance race gets you put on new and interesting mailing lists.  This morning, I got an email for "Fitness Singles," where I can find someone to "ignite my passion."  This is even funnier than the spam I get for Christian singles and singles over 50!

I'm sorry to tell all of the fit singles out there that I'm not available.  Dry your tears...if you're on that website, more than likely you're not interested in me anyway!

09 March, 2012

And So It Starts

Well, I did it.

Actually, I haven't done anything yet.

But I took the step before the first step.

This afternoon, I registered for a real honest-to-God distance race. 

Before you ask, no I'm not on any mind-altering drugs... but I would like to be off of my other drugs!

I signed up for the less-than-a-half-marathon "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler" at the end of September.

Cool things about this race:
1. It's at night - 10pm to be specific
2. It's villains-themed
3. It's a distance that doesn't seem ridiculous to me.  The half, which is on my bucket list, is 13.1 miles.  For some reason, I can't wrap my mind around that.  (but if I can handle this, I might consider doing one next year)

Going into the start of the Walking League, my goal was to walk for a whole hour without whining. (yes, I already told that story)  After six weeks, I logged just over 13 miles (we skipped last week because I worked an overnight shift).  I figure if I can walk 3 miles in an hour now, with no fitness level whatsoever, and without any muscle soreness or fatigue, then surely I can train over the next 6 months to be able to go 10 miles at a 15 minute mile pace.  My doctor says I'm allowed, and gave me some good advice about blisters.

So I'm going to start next week.  The training plan I'm following is 3 days per week (2 of which are only 30 minutes!) and start with a strategy of running 5 seconds, then walking 55 seconds.  I can do THAT!  I think some folks from work might be interested.  If so, I'll be running with them.  If not, Scott will go out with me early in the morning and pace me on the bike.  Either way, I'm committed.

Updates to come!

it's a small world

I sent one of my trainers out today to do high reach training for a guy from another department, and it was sort of a cluster**** getting things organized and getting these two guys to the same place at the same time.  When the trainer got back, he stopped in my office and told me that this training was like a "call from God," which was good...I thought he was going to give me a hard time because of the lousy communication.

He went on to tell me that his dad had passed away 10 years ago, and even before that they weren't close.  Divorce, etc. etc.  But the guy that I sent him out to train works in the department his dad used to work in, and had worked with his dad for many years.  My trainer got to hear some old war stories about his dad, and got the other guy's phone number. He hopes they can get together for a beer so he can hear more.

Even people with great relationships with their parents rarely get to see them outside of the parent role.  For him to have the chance to get to know his dad from a completely different perspective, it's really a gift.  And he knows how lucky he was to have that chance meeting today, which makes it even more special.

06 March, 2012

Odd Ends

Here are a few things floating through my head today that are too long for Twitter and too short for their own blog posts.

* When I was in the fourth grade, my family took a vacation to England.  I distinctly remember being disappointed when we returned to the US and not only did we not get to disembark the plane via staircase to the tarmac, but there was no marching band.  Apparently my only exposure to international travel had been the evening news and seeing the President and/or US Military members returning to much fanfare.  I thought of that today because this morning my friend Margaret floated into Port Canaveral aboard the Disney Fantasy, to a throng of well-wishers waving at the ship, plus media coverage and fireworks!  My inner fourth grader is very jealous indeed!  (the rest of me is jealous of the transatlantic voyage and the stop in NYC)

* Experiences (most) men don't understand:  Forgetting that you're wearing high heels, until the toilet seat is 3" lower than you're expecting it to be.  That might not sound like a great distance, but when you're falling bare-assed through space wondering who moved the toilet and bracing for impact with the ground, it's just enough for a mini adrenaline rush!

* We learned this morning that Robert Sherman died.  Even if you don't know the name, you know his music.  He and his brother Richard worked directly with Walt Disney to create music for movies from Mary Poppins to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, plus the ol' theme park classics "It's a Small World" and the theme to the Tiki Room.  The Disney Parks Blog had a lovely write-up that started with a Mary Poppins reference that made me tear up: "Today, the wind has changed and Disney Legend Robert B. Sherman has had to leave us. But the immeasurable gifts of song he has given — in that magical partnership with his surviving brother, Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman — will stay forever."  It's true - their legacy will outlive all of ours!

01 March, 2012

Birthday Tradition

On my 30th birthday, my co-worker Donna bought me a big ol' mylar "30" balloon.  When I got home that afternoon, I had Scott take my picture with the balloon.  I don't know why I did it, probably because I'm kind of a sucker for balloons and this one was a definite record of where I was on the big 3-0.

For the past two years, I've continued the tradition in a less conspicuous way.  Instead of balloons, I've used finger counting to mark the years.  On birthday 31, I was in Animal Kingdom, and it was cold!  On birthday 32, we were killing time in a mall in Tampa when we stumbled upon racks of prom dresses.  For 33, because 3 is my lucky number (how could it not be? my birthday is 3-3 after all!), I made myself a prop.

The best thing about this picture, besides my sign, is the fact that it was taken in the Magic Kingdom at 1 am today, and I was wearing pajama bottoms. (nope, I wasn't the only one!)  Scott and I went last night for the "One More Disney Day" promotion.  MK was open for the "bonus" Leap Day for 24 hours (for some reason from 6 am to 6 am instead of midnight to midnight).  We got there right after the fireworks, and the crowd was horrific.  We waited in lines for food, bathrooms...even the never-has-a-line TTA!  We were planning on staying until 2 or 3, but we gave up slightly after 1 when we looped back to Tomorrowland to see that lines had actually gotten longer than they were from 9-10!  We really did have a wonderful time - it's so much more pleasant to wait in lines when you're not also suffering from sunstroke - but the congestion was disheartening.  I'm glad we didn't stay and try to wait out the crowds.  I read a tweet from 4:30 am saying the line for Haunted Mansion was "only" 20 minutes.

Lesson learned: never underestimate the Disney die-hards!

I'll be bringing my sign with me wherever we go for the rest of the weekend (including on my actual birthday).  Hopefully it'll have some good stories to tell.

17 February, 2012

Measles, Mumps, and Purple Bumps

Yesterday almost all day, I had a tickle in my throat.  You know, the kind that makes you want to continuously make that "ehkkkkk" noise to dislodge whatever is tickling you?  I finally figured it out around 3:00 when I looked in the mirror at work.  There was a thing on my tonsil. It looked like a chicken pock.  (also, is that the singular of pox?)  I blamed Scott, and went back to drinking a record amount of water.

And then I sneezed.

Something flew out of my mouth and into my elbow pit.  It was a piece of oatmeal.  That's right, I spent about 8 hours with a cooked oat crusted onto my throat.

Not my finest hour(s).

At least it wasn't a raisin!

Post title inspired by the poem Sick, by Shel Silverstein

03 February, 2012

February $$AAA$$ Update

First of all, I would like to point out that I'm actually following through on the arbitrary goals I put on myself. That's a bigger deal for me than it should be.  I'm also updating you so that I continue to hold myself accountable.  So here's what's up:

$$ - Money - of all three goals, this is the one I've really done nothing with.  That said, I did get a student loan refund and immediately put half of the money into my credit card (and haven't spent anything on the card in quite a while) and set the other half aside for Scott's inevitable new car loan.  Blueberry is old, and Scott's been through multiple dealerships. No one does it like Saturn! 

AA - Grades - As of right now, my average in my Psych class is 94% and my Labor Relations grade is 90.8%.  That labor class has been a major culture shock for me. Weekly essays are more about condensing 5 pages of textbook (and citing it) in 250-350 words.  It's hard for me to do that because it only allows about 2% creativity and I'm used to coming up with my own ideas.  But the quizzes are open-book and a good portion of the grade revolves around discussion forums and group projects, so hopefully they continue to lift my mediocre essays.  The Psych grade is currently based on only 4 un-timed open-book quizzes.  The first exam (also open-note but with a time limit) is next week and worth 20% of my final grade.  I'm concerned, but my study sheet is already mostly filled in and annotated.  Plus, I'm awesome!

A$$ - The first night of the Walking League was this week, and my goal was simply to walk the whole hour without whining (to quote Juno, "woah, dream big!").  It was easier than I thought.  Scott and I walked 2.5 miles, and probably could have done 3 if not for poor sock choices on both our parts.  We'll probably do 3 next week, assuming our blisters heal satisfactorily!  It was also more fun than I expected.  My team has 15 people, 11 of whom made it this week, and I'm already looking forward to seeing more friendly faces next week. 

Wish me good studying and good group work! I've never really been great at either.