Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Actual Conversation

This is what it's like when you work from home.

It's 7:30 am. I am headed into my office (read: our spare bedroom). Brad is getting ready for work. He's wearing jeans, which is somewhat unusual for a lawyer for a Tuesday.

K: Jeans again today?
B: At least I'm wearing actual pants.
K: Decides not to respond, after looking down at giant flannel pajama pants and legendary GnR shirt.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Not About My Weight

I never wanted to be one of those women who obsesses about her weight. I've lost a lot of it in my day and I've been up and down within about 5 pounds of my current weight ever since. This post, however, is not about my weight. It's about my mental and physical health. I've put on 3 or 4 pounds in the last month or so. I know why it's happened, and I'm not happy about it.

But this is not about my weight.

Reason One
It's been a full week and a half since my last run. I have been working out -- doing "bootcamp" DVDs in my living room, ellipticalling, lifting weights -- but less frequently and less intensely than I should be and than I need. I can feel it in my body and in my psyche.

Excuse #1: I started a new job and It has kept me very, very busy.

Excuse #2: I had a cold that I couldn't shake for over a week.

Excuse #3: It's cold and even snowy now and the days are so super short and I don't feel comfortable running alone in the dark. And months of consistent outdoor running have made me loathe the treadmill more than I can express. I want my trails clear of snow, 35-40 degree temperatures and daylight.

Reason Two
I've been eating a lot of crap. Not junk food, because I just don't really purchase or eat actual junk food. But carby, sugary stuff like my mom's Christmas cookies (she sent us a huge box in the mail), and popcorn that I pop on the stove in coconut oil with tons of salt, and slices of bread slathered with almond butter.

Excuse #1: It's Christmas time. Crap food is aplenty.

Excuse #2: Vegetables and fruit aren't in season right now (which doesn't really apply in this day and age but I'm going with it).

Excuse #3: I'm just SICK of eating healthy all the time. And my indulgences aren't all that bad. . .

Reason Three
I eat my stress. Here is a list of just a few things that have made me turn to cookies late into the night:

1. See above, new job.

2. See above, cold.

3. Impending trip to Wisconsin for the holidays. The list of reasons why this is stressful is so long that just thinking about it is stressful.

4. I may or may not have killed Brad's truck when I drove it up to Pittsburgh last week.

5. The truck we were planning to drive to Wisconsin for said stressful holiday trip.

6. I will now have to put up with Brad and his father making fun of me for the rest of my life about (maybe) killing the truck, and thereby earning the label of "incompetent woman."

7. Also, not sure where the money to fix (maybe) dead truck will come from.

8. This week, I got the worst haircut of my life. This is basically what I looked like driving home from the salon:

8. I've gained 3 or 4 pounds in the last month. And trying not to focus on my weight is stressful.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday By Number

5: Hours I was awake today before I took a shower.

4: Gingerbread cookies eaten.

3: Freelance articles edited.

2: Hours spent watching a terrible Lifetime movie.

1: More day of sloth before I start my new job.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Five Things To Do With an Unexpected Day Off

1. Go to Target and purchase a miniature Christmas tree, along with a pair of Boy Mini Gloves from the dollar bin.

2. Decorate said miniature Christmas Tree with ornaments that you received at your bridal shower and have never taken out of the box.

3. Go for a trail run in the middle of the day. Be simultaneously enchanted and creeped out by the fact that you seem to be the only human being in the State Forest.

4. Drink.

5. Watch six episodes of Arrested Development in a row.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

But Then

Without going into too much detail, I received a job offer that was way too good to pass up, with a company that I've worked for in the past. And I will be working from home. Stoked. Yesterday I gave my two-week notice to my boss, and he seemed genuinely happy for me. He was cool about it, even though I will be working for a competitor.

But then . . . in the parking lot last night, he told me not to come back. I had a ton of personal things in my office, and he told me I could come back today to box them up.

But then . . . I received a voicemail from his secretary this morning saying that all of my personal items had been boxed up and were waiting for me on the first floor of the building, and that I could come and pick them up after 10:00.

Brad said that this is common practice and that I shouldn't take it personally, but I feel like I was slapped in the face. I would have liked to pack up my own things, say good-bye to the coworkers who I have befriended, and maybe fill someone in on the open projects I have.

I can't wait to start my new job and I know I made the right decision, but I feel bad about the way it ended. I guess I just would have liked to leave on a more positive note, and I don't like leaving things unfinished. Am I wrong to feel this way? Is this the way things always happen? I've never been fired or asked to leave a job before.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I am thankful for:

-a new PR at this morning's Turkey Trot!
-my body which, despite the neglect and abuse I showed it for the first 25 years of my life, is a total trooper and allows me to do things such as run.
-being married to my best friend, who just happens to be a fabulous cook.
-my family, even though they are far away
-friends, new and old, near and far.
-my neurotic, spite-shitting, yet totally sweet and awesome dog.
-a possible new job opportunity (I should know next week!)
-West Virginia. Because it's the most beautiful place I've ever lived. And, nowhere else will you see a guy riding a BMX bike with a case of beer on the handlebars, carrying a shotgun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Holiday Baking Season Preview

"Hi there. What are you doing? Oh, you're making peanut butter cookies? Mind if I sit here and stare at you until you drop some dough on the floor?"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Confessions of an Almost-Runner

That horrible 5-mile run that I went on a couple of weeks ago? That was the last "long" run I've done. I have kept up my weekly running schedule, but I've only run 3 or 3.5 miles at a time.

Since Daylight Savings Time ended and I've been leaving work in the dark, I've moved my weekday runs indoors. I've been hitting the good ole 'mill at the YMCA a couple of mornings a week at the ungodly hour of 6.00 am. It has allowed me to maintain my schedule but, man, do I hate running on the treadmill. My goal for the winter is to do at least one (long) run outside on the weekends, and run on the treadmill during the week. I even bought a pair of winter running tights this weekend.

I signed up for the 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning at the beautiful KSF. I convinced Brad to sign up, too, and since I'm not making him run with me this time, I expect that he will finish a good 10 minutes before I do. Since it is likely going to be a small race, I also expect that I will finish near the back of the pack, if not DFL (dead fucking last). I've come to terms with that and am going to run with my only goal being to finish faster (or less slowly, as the case may be) than my last 5K. A new PR, if I were a real runner.

After the 5K, Brad and I are going to come home, put on our stretchy pants, and cook a huge Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us. It's going to be legendary.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lessons I Learned on My Trail Run This Morning

1. Even if it is only 50 degrees, don't wear a long-sleeved cotton shirt on a run. You may think that you will be fine, but after one uphill mile it will be all sweaty and you'll be hot. Then, later, you'll be freezing in the damp cotton.

2. Drinking water is good. Drinking water the day before a long, difficult run is even better. If you fail to do this you will have a splitting headache and you'll want to die. Also, you should buy a damn hand-held water bottle and use it already.

3. Just when you are about to die of dehydration, a knight in shining armor on a white horse (or, a husband in shiny spandex on a single speed mountain bike) will show up and offer you a drink from his bottle and words of encouragement. Fairy tales do come true!

4. Do not eat chips and hummus and halloween candy for dinner. There is no nutritional value in that and your body needs decent food to work properly. Your body hates you right now.

5. While trail running in late fall, sometimes you have to shuffle sideways down a rocky descent, holding onto a tree for dear life. It's the only way to avoid a rolled ankle. Also, you should buy some damn trail running shoes already.

All excuses aside, today's run was probably my worst ever. But shit happens. Bad runs happen. I'm sure even elite athletes have bad days. What matters is that I did what I could and I'll try again another day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recipe: Cheesy Pumpkin Risotto

I made this risotto last night and it was delicious! Brad even ate his first serving without hot sauce, which means it was actually really good, not just good to me (I eat some strange things that other people do not enjoy, but that's a story for another time).

Cheesy Pumpkin Risotto
serves: 6-8?


3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 c. arborio rice
1 c. dry vermouth
32 oz. container of chicken stock
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp butter
1 c. grated fresh parmesan cheese
about 1/4 c chopped fresh basil
lots of kosher salt and pepper

-heat olive oil in a dutch oven or other large pan over medium heat.
-saute garlic for about 30 seconds, then add uncooked rice and stir to coat.
-cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, then slowly add vermouth.
-add chicken stock about a cup at a time, stirring constantly. Wait until the rice has absorbed the stock before adding more.
-this will take quite a while, but there is something very relaxing and soothing about stirring a risotto. Just zone out and slowly stir.
-once all of the stock has been absorbed, turn off heat and stir in the pumpkin, butter, cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until cheese and butter are melted and everything is incorporated.
-mix in basil and serve.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scenes From My Thursday Evening Run

I feel so lucky to be able to run on these beautiful roads. Even if they seem to be in an area where drug deals go down. Maybe it's time I start running with this little lady:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Random Facts

1. I am currently boiling 6 potatoes, which I will soon mash and eat with leftover turkey meatloaf. Yeah, I make mashed potatoes on a Tuesday night.

2. I ran 5.5 miles on Saturday morning at KSF, which is a -- wait for it -- new PDR.

3. I went to yoga last night and ended up on the mat next to the girlfriend of one of Brad's friends. That was a pleasant surprise.

4. I feel like I am getting a cold, so all day at work I was downing Airborne, zinc lozenges, throat drops, and Tazo Passion tea.

5. All of these homeopathic remedies made me feel like my head was going to float off of my body, and I zoned out at my desk today and lost about 20 minutes.

6. That last one actually happens more often than I'd like to admit.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Only October!

Brad and I have gotten soft.

We both grew up weather hearty in Wisconsin, home of the sub-zero temperatures and waist-high snowbanks. Many years, there was snow already on the ground on Halloween and I would have to squeeze my costume over my winter coat to go trick-or-treating.

Then we moved to Pittsburgh, where we lived in an old apartment building with no insulation while Brad was in law school. We were living off my paltry income, so we could not afford to turn on our heat until at least December. We bundled up in layers (including hats and scarves), slept with a space heater in our room, and dealt with it.

I'm sure you see where this is going. We turned our heat on this week. The low temperatures were still in the 40s and we caved.

"It's too warm in here! I'm going to turn the heat down to 70!" I said the other night.

Who am I?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Non-Running Running Buddy

Yesterday I headed home after work and got ready for a run. I yelled down the stairs to Brad, who was already in his cycling kit and gearing up for a ride, "I'm going to Coonskin!"

"Me too," he answered. It's Cyclocross season, as I may have mentioned, and he has his first race this weekend in Tennessee. I knew he would be going to the park to ride up crazy short hills and run up stairs and over various objects while carrying his bike. This is called cross practice, and when we lived in Pittsburgh there was an organized practice a couple of times a week at Frick Park. Here in Charleston, Brad may be the only person who races Cyclocross, so he has to do it all by himself. I'm sure people think he's crazy as they drive by.

Anyway, I drove to my favorite trailhead and set off for my scheduled 2-2.5 mile run. I'm just cresting the first hill when I see Brad barelling down the trail toward me. I stopped to chat for a few minutes and then continued plodding along.

Brad actually rode along with me for the rest of my run, straying to ride up any steep hills and jump over any obstacles that we passed. He even inspired me to run an extra mile and a half, so I completed 3.5 miles last night instead of 2. It was so much better having company on my run. Not only did I run longer than I would have had I been alone, but I took fewer walking breaks and I ran a bit faster, too. And it was certainly nice to have someone to talk to. Thanks, Brad!

I think I need to make a running friend. As my "long" runs start to get longer, I think it would help stave off boredom if I had someone to talk to. Maybe I can convince Brad to take up running. . .

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Perfect Autumn Weekend

This weekend started off with a new PDR: I ran 5 miles on Saturday morning at the beautiful KSF, about 2 miles on the road and 3 on trails. I felt like wonder woman when I was finished! I am slowly becoming more confident with running, and I feel like I could have gone another mile or two if I'd wanted to. It would have sucked and I would have been sore, but I could have done it. This gives me so much hope that my dream of someday running a half marathon is achievable!

Saturday night, we went to a friend's house to watch the WVU game. Neither Brad nor I really watch or follow college football, so it was more a social event for us. I don't have a lot of friends here in Charleston yet, so it's always nice to have an opportunity to hang out with actual people, not just my dog.

Sunday, I cheered Brad on in his last mountain bike race of the year (Cyclocross, the quintessential fall cycling season, starts next week), then we came home, made cornbread and a huge pot of chili, and watched football while drinking pumpkin beer. It was a perfect fall weekend, from start to finish!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recipe: Lunchtime "Baked" Apples

I usually go home on my lunch break. I take the dog out, make a salad or sandwich or reheat leftovers, and watch What Not to Wear while I eat. Travel takes about 15 minutes total (home and back to work), and the dog gets about 10-15 minutes of outside time. That leaves me roughly 30 minutes for lunch. Today I really wanted a warm, sweet dessert -- even though it's 90 degrees today! -- so I came up with this recipe (if you can even call it that).

Lunchtime "Baked" Apples
Serves: 1


1 apple (I used a honeycrisp)

-core and slice apple (I have an actual gadget for this. Don't judge, it was a gift).
-put apple slices in a microwave-safe bowl.
-add a splash of water to the bowl
-top with as much cinnamon as you wish. I used probably close to 1 Tbsp. I really like cinnamon.
-microwave for 2 minutes, stir, and microwave for another 2 minutes*

You could add a bit of brown sugar, but my apple was very sweet as it was. Plus, I'm trying to see how long I can go without eating sugar. So far, I'm on day three and it's been going better than I expected.

*The time may vary based on your particular microwave, and how soft you like your apples!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

PDR: 4 Miles

Although I did some running / walking combo workouts while we lived in both Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, I really only feel like I've been running since about February of this year; I guess because I was never very consistent before. I don't run fast, but I've developed a pretty decent habit of running (albeit sometimes still with walking breaks) three times weekly.

I've always been kind of afraid to push myself to run farther than three miles. I can't explain it really, but I think it is the little fat girl inside of me -- who I was my entire childhood, adolescence, and college years -- thinking that I couldn't possibly do it.

I still have flashbacks of having to run the mile in high school gym class, and having to walk pretty much the whole thing. I blamed "exercise-induced asthma," which I probably never really had.

I remember being 22-years-old and going hiking with my fit boyfriend (now my fit husband!). I could barely breathe when we got to the top of the hill. I blamed the fact that I was a pack-a-day smoker.

Sometimes I can't even believe who I used to be, honestly.

Today, I reached a new personal distance record while running; I ran 4.2 miles.

I ran 4.2 miles.

In a world of marathons and ultra marathons and 100-mile mountain bike races, that sounds like nothing at all. But to me, the little fat girl who had to walk the mile in gym, it's a huge accomplishment.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recipe: Beans and Greens Calzones

I have only recently become confident enough in my cooking ability to invent my own recipes -- I used to be a hard-and-fast recipe follower. Now, I know enough about cooking and food that I know what flavors will work with one another and what won't. Of course, some of my inventions are better than others; I put this together for dinner last night and it was awesome!

Beans and Greens Calzones
Serves: 2-4*


2 Tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 large handfuls of baby spinach
about 1/2 a block of grated mozzarella
about 4 Tbsp grated parmesan
pizza dough ( I used the just-add-water packet, but I'll bet this
one from (never home)maker would be awesome)
1 egg, beaten

- heat olive oil in a large pan.
- add red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook for 30-ish seconds.
- add spinach and stir, coating with oil, until it is wilted.
- add cannellini beans and heat through.
- mash some of the beans right in the pan with the back of your spoon. The goal is somewhat paste-y but somewhat chunky.
- salt and pepper to taste.

- divide your prepared pizza dough in two halves.
- roll each half out to about a 10-inch circle
- sprinkle about 1/4 of the shredded mozzarella on each circle.
- top with a decent-sized scoop of beans and greens (you may have some left over)
- layer another 1/4 of the shredded mozzarella on top of that.
- sprinkle with a bit of parmesan.
- brush egg along the edge of the dough, then fold in half and fold the bottom edge over the top edge (does that make sense?)
- crimp edges with your fingers or a fork, and pierce the top of each calzone a few times with a fork.
- brush the tops with the egg wash, and sprinkle the remaining paremsan cheese on top.

- bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, I rotated the pan halfway through for even browning.


*these are pretty big. I ate half of one, but totally could have eaten the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My First Shoulder Stand

A long time ago, when I first started on my path to becoming a healthier person, I bought a few yoga DVDs. I used these, walking, and Weight Watchers to lose 65 pounds. I liked practicing with the DVDs because I could learn the poses in the privacy of my own home, where no one would see me. For years, I only did yoga with my DVDs and, while I enjoyed it, I was never able to really push myself or learn cool new poses.

Fast forward to now. I've been practicing weekly at The Folded Leaf here in Charleston, and I leave every class feeling like I'm floating (I've also cried a few times on the drive home, but I can't really explain that). I've been able to really deepen my yoga experience. A few things that I've been able to do for the first time:

Get my heels to the floor in downward-facing dog
Camel Pose

And for the first time, last night, an unsupported shoulder stand! I was lying there, thinking that I would fall over like I always do, and all of a sudden, my legs were in the air. My body was not completely straight, but I can work on that. I got the balance right, my hands were in the right place, and it felt easy. I was stoked. Next up: crow pose?

I love yoga.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not That Poison Ivy

I distinctly remember, Saturday evening, as I stepped off of the trail in my flip flops, thinking "I sure hope this plant that is snaking over my bare feet isn't poisonous."

And, of course, it was poison ivy. I've spent a lot of time in the woods in my life but this is the first time I have been afflicted. Both of my feet are full of itchy little red sores and they feel like they are on fire. I also have pink eye, or some problem with my right eye that, the more I think about it, may be poison ivy as well (from touching my foot and then rubbing my eye).

I feel pretty. Oh so pretty.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What It's Like to be Posh Spice

The bike shop that sponsors Brad has a huge selection of products, all of which he can get at an insanely discounted price. One of the perks of being married to a sponsored athlete:

Yes, that is a case of Brownie Chocolate Chip Larabars. And a new pair of Smartwool socks for running. I'm a lucky girl.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Feel the Fear

This morning, one of my greatest fears was realized.

OK, maybe that's a little bit dramatic.

This morning I woke up, ate my almond butter and banana oats, and prepared for a trail run. I headed to the Kanawha State Forest with my awesome Garmin (a birthday gift from Brad) and planned to do about 3.5 miles. I chose one of the flattest, most well-traveled trails in the forest, since I was alone, no one knew I was there, and I did not want to carry my phone (not that it would have reception there anyway). I love trail running more and more every time I do it. There's so much to look at and listen to in the woods, I don't even run with my ipod. I heard a lot of woodpeckers today!

I reached the end of the trail and start heading back, trucking along at my slow speed, enjoying nature and really, feeling that all was well in the universe.

And then it happened.

Every time I go hiking or trail running I worry about tripping and falling off a cliff. There are cliffs everywhere in West Virginia, and the trails are pretty gnarly; rooty and rocky, basically one tripping hazard after another.

Today was the day. I felt my toe clip the root and thought "Oh no, I'm going down." There was a fairly steep drop-off to my right, about 6 feet down into a creek bed full of boulders, and to my left, a super steep uphill. When I hit the ground, the only place for me to go would be to the right.

As I was falling, the following thoughts were going through my head:

"Come on, yoga balance, where are you now?"
"I'm going to fall onto those rocks and it's going to hurt."
"How far am I from the end of the trail? Will anyone find me if I can't walk?"
"Oh christ, are those mountain bikers approaching?"
"Shit, I hope it isn't anyone I know."
"What if I get hurt and can't run anymore?"
"Ow, ow, ouch, ow."

That last one was happening as I hit the ground and slid on my left hip, leg, and hand down the hill.

The two mountain bikers were now rushing to see if I was OK (luckily, I didn't know them). I was embarrassed and could feel my face turning red as I tried to assure them I was fine. I got up, assessed the situation, and realized that I really was fine. No blood, not even a scratch, which I thought was amazing but actually shows that I didn't fall as hard or slide as far as I felt like I did.

I climbed back up to the trail, thanked the bikers, and jogged off on my merry way. I escaped unscathed, except for a bruised ego and a slightly swollen palm.

I am now going to soothe my ego with lunch from Subway. It's the little things, you know.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Future

I've been thinking lately about the course that this blog will take in the future. I have lived in Charleston for over a year now, so I don't really feel like I am documenting my new life here anymore; it's just my life now. Posting has been sporadic because I don't have that many new experiences in Appalachia anymore. I want to keep writing, but I need to switch my focus.

Over the last few years, a lot of my interests have been health and fitness related. I don't want to start a food blog where I take photos of each of my meals (although I read a lot of those blogs) or log every workout (I read those, too). I think I'd like this blog to morph into something more about my life and healthy living in West Virginia, as opposed to my life and being an Appalachian transplant.

Monday, July 19, 2010

An Actual Conversation

Brad and I are driving home from beautiful Davis, WV. I am telling him about a girl who I met that day; in conversation with her, age came up and she was surprised that I am 32.

K: She said she thought I was 24 or 25. I told her I loved her.
Brad: You were wearing those huge sunglasses, weren't you?
K: . . .

Friday, July 9, 2010

OMG a Snake!

Yesterday we went to the house of a partner at Brad's firm for a cocktail party. It was pretty fun; there was good company, good food, a live band, and iced tea flavored vodka. I felt under-educated and underpaid, as I tend to feel at most lawyer gatherings, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself.

We drove home, making up words to turn an Usher song (the atrocious OMG) into a song about robots and laughing hysterically because, as Brad said this morning, we're like Beavis and Butthead. I don't remember most of our lyrics, but the line "There's so many places to oil you" was definitely in there. Heh heh.

As we were getting out of the car, Brad said, "What is that?" He leans over to investigate and exclaims "It's a snake! Cool." And then my husband, the attorney, crouches down and starts poking the snake with a stick.

This lead to a conversation about the surely thousands of snakes that live in our area, and how surprised we both are that Brad has never seen a rattlesnake (apparently, everyone he knows that lives here and spends any amount of time in the woods has seen one.) I trail run and hike by myself all of the time, and I don't know what I would do if I ran across a rattler. Actually, I do. I'd panic, turn around and run the other way, and maybe cry.

Since the snake sighting, every stick in the grass is suspect. I know they are harmless but I just don't like them. They're fast and slithery! Some of them can kill you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Running, Camping and Hiking

Some highlights from the last few weeks:

1. I ran my 2nd 5K and finished one minute and 40 seconds faster (or less slow, as the case may be) than my 1st. In 850 degree heat and 1,000% humidity.

2. Celebrated Brad's 31st birthday with an ice cream cake and dinner at Lola's. <3

3. Went camping in the Canaan Valley National Wilderness Refuge in Davis WV with Brad and Ilsa. Saw no wildlife.

4. Ate at Hellbender's twice while in Davis. Drank PBR.

5. Hiked the most difficult 12 miles of my life in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. This included calf-deep mud, ankle-rolling rocks and multiple stream crossings.

6. We ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING in a large open field on top of a mountain in Dolly Sods. Cloud-to-ground lightning struck about 100 feet away from us. It was one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me; I literally thought I might die.

7. I learned that I really am stronger than I think I am.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dear Charleston,

It has been almost a year that I've lived here, and I know we've had our ups and downs. I have had days that I've really disliked you, your lack of good bars and good bands and Whole Foods. I wanted you to be different, evolve, grow, but I know you're not ready for that. I was hoping that I could change you, but I don't know if that is possible. You are set in your ways and I have to accept you for what you are.

Lately, I'm beginning to feel like you are the one who is changing me. I've had so many days in which I am awestruck by your natural beauty. In those moments, I think, wow, how lucky am I that I get to live here? That I can drive 15 minutes on a Wednesday after work to KSF and be suddenly deep in the woods, in the wildness. That I can hike for an hour up a mountain and be greeted with spectacular views, green hills as far as I can see.

Do you remember when I found that wild orchid growing in the state forest? Thank you. That week in March when our yard exploded with daffodils? Thanks for that, too. Maybe, if we both try a little harder, we can make this work.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Running a 5K is something that I've been wanting to do for a couple of years now. So last week, when Brad told me that his firm was getting a team together for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, we decided to sign up.

Although I run at least 3-4 days a week, most of those runs are on the treadmill at 600 am. I only run outside once or twice a week, and I have no idea how far those runs are. I was very, very nervous all week and I can't really articulate why. I guess it was my inner teenage fat girl telling me that I couldn't do it. I was afraid I would finish in last place, even though intellectually I knew that would not happen -- there were thousands of people running, walking, and even some wheelchair participants.

Yesterday was the big day. I woke up, ate some toast, slathered on sunblock and got dressed. Brad and I drove the 3 minutes from our house to the state capitol building, where the festivities were in full swing. We saw a bunch of people we knew, and talking to them eased my nerves a bit. I had previously made Brad promise to run with me, even though his natural running pace is much faster than mine (he's an athlete and 7" taller than me).

Soon, the race was on! I made the most common rookie mistake and started at a much faster pace than I could sustain for 3.1 miles. After about one mile, I had to slow down and eventually take a 30 second walk break. After that, I began to run again, trying to keep my pace slower, but I had to take a few more short walk breaks in the second half of the race. I tried to keep them all to no more than a minute or two. Before long, the finish line was in sight and Brad and I picked it up for the last maybe 50 yards so we could finish strong!

When we crossed the finish line, the clock read 35:19. But the time chip didn't start recording until we crossed the start line and, since that took a little while due to all of the participants, I'm not sure what my official time was. I think it must have been 34-something minutes, which makes me super happy. My goal was to finish in under 37 minutes! Eventually the results will be online and I'll know for sure what my time was.

I'm so happy that I did this! I'm also so happy that my wonderful husband did it with me. He walked when I needed to walk, told me to slow down when I was going too fast, and made me laugh even when I felt exhausted. On top of all of this, he never runs and he has a 40-mile mountain bike race today in Virginia! So he risked sore knees at his race to be there for me.

I know that running 3 miles is not a long distance, nor is it a big deal for a lot of people. I also know that I did not run fast. But, for me, the fact that I even did it is a big deal. I tend to tell myself that I can't do things, and then I never even try. But now that I've done one 5K, I know I can do others. Then maybe a 10K?

The one bad thing is that, by the time we got to registration, they only had XL t-shirts left. I was hoping to be able to wear my shirt to the gym with pride, but it's so big that all I can really do is sleep in it. Ah well. Maybe next time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Some of my recent obsessions are:

Putty-colored nail polish. It's like a cross between brown, gray, and purple and totally rad.

Fresh pineapple. I've been buying at least one a week, cutting it up and eating it within about two days. I can't stop.

Iced tea. This brand, to be exact, because it was on sale at K-Roger for 59 cents a bottle! Score.

The Discovery Channel's miniseries Life. In HD.
This weekend is plants and primates, the last episodes! Brad and I look forward to this every week, and we're both going to be bummed when it's over.

Coonskin Park. I've been going to the park at least 6 times a week -- walking the dog after work Monday - Friday and trail running on the weekends. It's very close to where I live, and surprisingly under-utilized. It makes living on the side of a mountain in a neighborhood with no sidewalks much more bearable.


We're off to Virginia this weekend, where I will be playing pit crew for Brad at a 13-hour mountain bike race. Then I'm traveling to Indiana for work on Monday and Tuesday and getting my summer haircut on Wednesday! I'm fighting the urge to chop it all off.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Because I'm sure the universe is simply dying for an update, my knee is much better today. I took three days off from working out and elliptical-ed this morning at the gym. It felt so good that, after I got off the hamster wheel, I ran a mile on the treadmill before heading home to ice my leg with my kneepeas (a bag of frozen peas that are designated for icing body parts, not for eating).

In other news, I'm headed to a brand new doctor tomorrow, whose name I randomly chose from my health insurance's network of doctors. My doctor in Pittsburgh was kind of a dick, and he never listened to me. I have high hopes for new dude tomorrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pain Cave

I have finally gotten to a point with my fitness that I am proud of. I can run that 5K that I was aiming for -- in fact, I have been running 10-15 miles a week pretty consistently for the last month or so (a combination of treadmill and trail). I know that is not a lot, but I hope one day to be one of those people who runs 10-15 miles at once, and for the first time I have been feeling like that is achievable. "Every runner has to start somewhere!" I tell myself. So what if I'm starting later than most; I spent my teen years being over 200 pounds!

Yesterday I went to the park near my house to run, on a familiar trail that I have run several times already. I ran this particular trail end-to-end and back (about 2.75 miles, I estimate), was chased by a goose in the process, and then got back into my car to drive home. As I sat down in the car, I felt a twinge in my left knee. Huh. I have had problems with my right knee for years, but never the left.

By the time I got home, moving my foot on and off of the clutch was excruciating. I showered and iced my knees, and then took a look -- very swollen, as I suspected. Walking up and down stairs is seriously difficult. Putting pretty much any weight on the knee while it is bent is very painful.

I'm so discouraged, I don't know what to do. I have worked very hard to get to this point in regards to running, and I am afraid I'll lose a lot of fitness by taking too much time off. On the other hand, I know I need to take care of my body and, frankly, I think I could run today if I tried.

So, I'm bummed. Super bummed. But hopefully a couple of days' rest is all I will need to heal.

In the meantime:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Easy Like Saturday Morning

This morning, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful, crisp 35 degrees outside. Brad left on his road bike to do a century just for the hell of it, and I decided to head to the Kanawha State Forest to do a trail run.

First, let me say that I have spent a decent amount of time hiking on the trails at the KSF, but I am the girl who needs the super stiff hiking boots to keep from rolling her ankles. Second, I can run a couple of miles easily now, but all of the miles I've run have been on the treadmill. As I drove the 15 minutes to the forest, I began to think that this was not a good idea. The trail I was headed for, the Davis Creek Trail, is one of the flattest in the forest. It does, however, have its share of rocks, roots, and slippery, muddy areas. I imagined myself spraining an ankle and lying in the woods, waiting for mountain lions to kill me. I hoped that they would be swift about it.

Before I could talk myself into turning around and heading to the gym, I arrived, parked, strapped on my ipod and Smartwool hat, and was on my way.

I'm sure you saw this coming: I think I ran the whole time with a huge grin on my face.

Wow, trail running is awesome. I had to walk one short, icy section along a little ridge, and when the trail suddenly became a river, I had to walk off trail to get around it, but otherwise I ran along at a good pace, my "girl power" playlist blaring, smiling and sweating in the sunshine. I don't know for sure how far I ran, nor do I really care, but based upon how long it took, my estimate is about 2 miles. I would have run longer, but the trail mysteriously ended and I wasn't sure where to go next. When it finally dries out, I'm going to be all over Middle Ridge trail -- that one goes on forever.

Now I'm home icing my dodgy knee. I have to head to the mall this afternoon to find something to wear to my brother-in-law's wedding in Wisconsin next weekend. I hate the thought of spending such a nice day in a mall, but it has to be done.

I hope everyone has a glorious weekend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Best. Thing. Ever.

For dinner tonight, I had roasted broccoli dipped in peanut butter. It was absolutely delicious! I urge everyone to give it a try.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Actual Conversation

It is 5.45 am. I have dragged myself out of my warm bed, put on my workout clothes and driven to the gym. Squinting against the uber-bright florescent lights, I choose a treadmill, set my program and start to run. But my legs! They feel like whole frozen Christmas hams. They are heavy, heavy, and after 5 minutes I slow to a walk and hang my head in shame. I feel defeated.

Man on treadmill next to me: Seems harder today, doesn't it?
K: Yes, it does.
Man: That one is stuck at an incline.
K: That would certainly explain it. Thanks!

I moved to the next treadmill and had no trouble pounding out my 2 miles. Crisis averted!

Monday, February 22, 2010

It Felt Like Springtime on That February Morning

What a beautiful weekend to live in West Virginia! Saturday was warm and gorgeous. Sunday was warmer and . . . gorgeous-er. Today is rainy and crappy but, you know, it's Monday so no one really cares. I hear that it's supposed to snow again later in the week but for now, it feels like spring and that is enough to pull all of us out of our winter-induced funk.

Yesterday afternoon, Brad and I walked around downtown holding hands in the sunshine. We debated hitting up Ellen's for ice cream, but since they don't accept debit cards and neither of us had cash, we drove instead to our favorite Mexican restaurant for margaritas and nachos. I love days like that. Years ago, when we lived in Milwaukee, we would occasionally take an afternoon and walk around the city, going from bar to bar to restaurant, just the two of us, and it was always so much fun.

Five of Brad's friends are coming down from Pittsburgh this weekend for an epic, 2-day Kanawha State Forest ride. This means that we'll have a house full of bikes and skinny dudes in spandex. I'm planning to bake a few kinds of cookies and stuff for them this week. I love to bake but I refuse to have a surplus of cookies in the house; I would end up eating them for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner).


Oh, and I ran two miles yesterday, without stopping to walk. To most people this is not that big of an accomplishment, but for me it is! I'm 2/3 of the way to a 5K, which was my goal for the year, and it's only February! If I can run 2 miles, why not 3? And if I can run 3, soon it will be 5. And if I can run 5, I can certainly run 6! I might end up running a 10K this year in addition to the 5K.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I ran the 2 miles on the treadmill at the gym. I know, I know, it's harder outside. But I played around with the treadmill's incline and speed to make it more closely resemble outdoor running. Right now, I'm still working on building up my lungs. I'll worry about my legs later.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Something Has Got to Change

Snowpocalypse in Washington DC. An earthquake in Chicago. Snow in Louisiana for the first time in like 10 years. But no snow in Vancouver?

Meanwhile, energy companies in West Virginia are blowing up the beautiful Appalachian mountains for coal, coal, coal to burn; never mind the harmful run-off, which is rendering previously pristine streams and rivers polluted and unusable. They are drilling horizontal gas wells in the Kanawha State Forest. And that one redneck that lives on my street keeps throwing empty Gatorade and Natty Ice bottles out of his car window onto the hillside.

I've always been a bit of a tree-hugger, and I do my best to live a green life. We recycle, buy energy-efficient light bulbs, and try to reduce and reuse as much as possible. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Forum on Energy a few weeks ago, in which Robert Kennedy Jr. debated Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining. Living here and witnessing this first hand has really opened my eyes. There is so much more that I can do.

I am pledging right now to do more personally. I will also be looking for ways to do more publicly. West Virginia is the most beautiful place I have ever lived, and I want it to remain as beautiful for my future children to enjoy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oh, Charleston: An Actual Conversation

I stopped by my local supermarket today after work to pick up a couple of things, and brought one of my 10,000 cloth grocery bags along. I purchased the following: apples, oranges, cereal, lettuce, cottage cheese, pistachios and a bottle of wine.

After standing on line for at least 10 minutes, I unload my purchases on the conveyor belt thing and place the cloth bag on top. This is the universal sign for "put my stuff in this bag, please."

K: Hello!
Cantankerous Cashier: Hi.
K: How are you?
CC: I've been a lot better.
K: *awkward silence*
CC: Is this your bag?
K: Yes, it is.
CC: Are you planning on putting your stuff in it?
K: Uh -- yeah, I can put everything in there when you're finished.

So I run my debit card through and walk to the end of the still-running belt thingy, where she had tossed my bag along with my groceries. She stands there and watches me bag my purchases before she starts checking anyone else out, and then she hands my receipt to the next woman in line.

Monday, January 25, 2010

At Least Five Hours

Brad is a cyclist, and he's probably the fittest person I know. But when we met, over 11 years ago, he wasn't. I mean, he was always in reasonable shape, but he was not the muscley-legged, cardiovascular anomaly that he is now. In the past 6 years or so, his body has completely changed shape.

I want that.

I have recently discovered that I have a rather high body fat percentage, even though I'm technically only about 1-2 pounds overweight. In discussing this last night (my desire to change my body shape dramatically), Brad suggested I up my time spent working out to at least five hours a week for now. And that, as I get fitter, I should increase that time. Since I have begun to work out in the mornings during the workweek, I have a limited amount of time that I can spend at the gym and still make it to work on time. So my plan is to get three hours of cardio in on the weekends; at least an hour and a half both Saturday and Sunday.

This Saturday, I hiked at our beloved KSF for an hour and a half, and yesterday I spent the same amount of time on various cardio machines at the gym -- treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster. I nearly fell asleep during the Vikings game last night and, walking up stairs is a bit of a struggle. But Monday is my rest day, so hopefully I'll bounce back by 545 tomorrow morning. I have a date with my favorite treadmill.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back on the Wagon

After a few days of indiscretion, no more diet soda. It's been nine days and I'm not craving DC anymore. I see that as a triumph.

Also? I ran outside yesterday, with my dog, for the first time in months. It was a beautiful, sunny winter afternoon, 32 degrees, and I still had about 40 minutes of sunlight left when I got home from work. So I layered up, clipped Ilsa's harness on, and we headed to the park. We basically had the whole park to ourselves, except for a HERD of deer that were feeding in an open field. I wish I would have had my camera. It was glorious! I'd forgotten how much I enjoy running outdoors, especially in the winter.

The treadmill at the gym tonight is going to be even worse!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Well I'm Glad That is Over


So far, in the 12 days since I wrote my last, optimistic, new year-fresh post, I have drunk a ton of diet soda and not worked out one single time. However, after all is said and done, I've lost 5 actual pounds.

On January 2, I was stricken with the worst case of food poisoning I have ever seen, save for that one time that Brad knowingly ate rotten trout. I couldn't keep down even water, I got severely dehydrated, and I was unable to eat real food for 5 days. If I had health insurance, you can bet I would have gone to the emergency room on Sunday morning, after I awoke, presumably from fainting, on the bathroom floor. Unfortunately, I am not eligible for my company's plan yet, so I toughed it out.

During this time, I dropped about 7-8 pounds, which is partially awesome but mostly scary (as I mentioned, 3 of those came back once I was able to eat and drink normally). I finally feel 100% normal, thank goodness. The culprit? I'm sorry to say I believe it was a bottle of kombucha. I understand that a small percentage of people have a severe "allergic" reaction to this fermented tea, that manifests as gastrointestinal toxicity. I guess I will never know for sure, but you can bet that I will never again drink that shit.

Today, I had a long, long day that began at 530 am. As I drove to a jobsite in Morgantown, I contemplated: if I can wake up at 530 to drive for 2.5 hours for work, why can't I awake at 530 to hit the gym for 1 hour before work? I'm going to try to put that into action this week. I am starting with a small goal, of working out before work ONCE this week. Perhaps tomorrow; since I'm already super tired, I don't think I could stay up late if I tried.

Bonus: An Actual Conversation

I'm lying on the couch, in the throes of food poisoning, watching a Jersey Shore marathon and eating crackers. Brad walks in, all handsome and fresh-faced from a 4-hour mountain bike ride. I probably glare at him, I can't help it!

Brad: I think you've invented a celebrity diet.
K: Yeah, saltines and ginger ale?
Brad: Saltines and diet ginger ale.