Saturday, November 26, 2011


Ah, the annual day of thanks and gluttony. As per usual, Brad and I made a big Thanksgiving feast this year. I am thankful that we are financially able to indulge like we did. Here are some other things I am thankful for this year:

Brad. Today, tomorrow, for the past 13 years, and forever.

My group of Charleston friends, who I have only met in the last year, and who make living here so much better.

Our new house, the nice flat neighborhood it is in, and again, that we have the means to live here comfortably.

Our upcoming trip back to Wisconsin to see family and friends. There is a new six month old addition to our group of hometown friends this year, and we can't wait to meet her.

My health, Brad's health, Ilsa's health, and the health of those we love.

I'm off this afternoon to lovely Fayetteville WV to hike and support local businesses. Happy 65 degree day in November.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I really like Drake. There, I said it and I'm not ashamed. Judge if you must.

Monday, October 10, 2011

An Ode to My Dog

This is Ilsa:

Four years ago, we were living in Pittsburgh. I had few friends, fewer hobbies, and Brad was super busy with law school, work, and cycling. I really needed someone or something in my life. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and after months of deliberation, Brad and I went to the animal shelter in our neighborhood to look for a dog.

We saw a few dogs that day that caught our eye: a black lab who had the loudest bark I've ever heard, a beagle mix that bit the volunteer as she took him out of his kennel, and two pit bulls: Dice and Candy. We decided not to bother with the biting beagle, and we took the lab, Dice, and Candy each into the visitation room and for walks around the block. Candy was the best. She rubbed on our legs like a cat in the visitation room, tail constantly wagging, and when we took her out for her walk, she acted like it was the best thing ever. She was runty and skinny and had recently given birth, but she was as sweet as, well, candy.

I never had any intention of owning a pit bull, but we adopted her on the spot and she became part of our little family.

She had been abandoned, neglected for sure, possible abused. She winced when you made too sudden a movement. Still, we took her home, renamed her Ilsa, and hoped that she wouldn't kill us in our sleep. We were so scared that first night, not knowing what to expect. She was timid and frightened, but still loved attention and wagged that tail almost constantly.

Over the next year, we learned a lot about her. She would destroy books sometimes, mainly dog training ones. She ate a Garmin once. She didn't like other dogs. She enjoyed licking her belly. She smelled really bad sometimes. She would occasionally go for days without eating for no real reason. She would shit on the floor out of spite every now and then.

She was home with me when our apartment was broken into and she scared the guy away with a bark I've not heard before or since

She still loves every single person that she meets.

She has since warmed up to certain dogs, but not all. She hasn't eaten a book in a long while, nor has she shit on the floor recently. She knows when I am sad and sticks to me like velcro. If I cry, she comes over to see what is wrong. She loves to sprint in circles in her new fenced-in backyard. She's my favorite hiking partner.

And we have gone on many adventures together.

She's not the best dog in the world, or the most easy to manage, or the most media-friendly. But I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bad Things That Have Happened This Week

It is Friday night, I am having a "girls' night" with the dog, which means I am drinking wine alone on the couch and watching YouTube videos of songs that make me cry, and the dog is sleeping upstairs on the futon in my office.

I have had a rough week. Here are just a few of the things that made it so:

1. I had a work project completely fall apart on Monday.
2. In the middle of dealing with the work project that was falling apart on Monday, Jehovah's Witnesses showed up at my door and would not leave. I was way too Wisconsin-Nice to them. I Wisconsin-nicely told them I don't buy the whole "god" thing, but that wasn't enough to scare them away.
3. I started stripping the wallpaper in my kitchen, only to find that the plaster was coming down with it. My kitchen now looks like a crack house.
4. I was carrying a 72" long piece of plate glass when it shattered, cutting my face, hands, and embedding itself in my feet. What has two thumbs and moves while wearing flip flops? This guy.
5. Brad was gone all week and I miss him. You know that really bad pop song that goes "my life would suck without you?" Well, in my case, it's true.

The good news is, tomorrow some friends are coming over to drink and help me strip the rest of the wallpaper in my kitchen, thus completing the crack den look. And then Brad is coming home on Sunday. I do believe that, in the whole 13 years we have been together, this is the longest we have been apart, and I don't like it one bit.

In other news, watch this and try not to cry:

Monday, September 19, 2011

What I Did With My August

Things have been mighty quiet around this little blog lately. I have been busy doing things like:

Celebrating my 2nd wedding anniversary (and 13th year of togetherness) with my devastatingly handsome husband.

Taking my dog on romantic six mile walks in the woods with her dog boyfriend, Samson, and Samson's owner, Beth.

House hunting, applying for a mortgage, finding and ultimately PURCHASING A 1940's BUNGALOW WITH A WHITE PICKET FENCE!!

Yes, my dream of owning a house has come to fruition. We bought a lovely place in one of the only two flat neighborhoods in Charleston. It is full of character, needs a little TLC, but it is way nicer than anyplace we've lived before, and it is OURS. We are stoked.

Before and after photos of some of our renos will surely follow.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Culinary Wasteland

I should have known better.

You see, Charleston is what you could call a culinary wasteland. By and large, the restaurants that have good food have terrible service, and the ones that have bad food have even worse service (the exceptions to this being every single Mexican restaurant in town, because the service is always awesome, and Frutcake, which has fine service and the best cucpakes I have ever had. Ever. Better than anyplace in Pittsburgh, better than NYC's famous Magnolia, better than Babycakes, better than my mom's. And I am somthing of an expert. But that is a story for another time).

Today, I was at a jobsite for several hours and I was starving on my drive home. Knowing that we have very little food in the house right now, I decided -- and this was where I went against my better judgement -- to stop at a fast food restaurant. Let's just say it rhymes with Blendy's.

So I went to the Blendy's drive-through and ordered a Caesar salad, small fries, and a Diet Coke. Off I drove, without looking in the bag, because really? How easy was that order.

When I got home and opened the bag, ready to eat my hand at this point, I remembered with sudden clarity why I don't go to fast food restaurants. Inside the large paper bag was a very very tiny side salad. I would say this contained about half a cup of slimy, brown lettuce, some "parmesan cheese," and one moldy grape tomato. Completely inedible side salad and no fries. And once I took a sip of my drink, I realized that this was regular Coke. I had to throw it all away and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I don't care if you do have high-budget commercials and delicous is-it-ice-cream-or-is-it-a-shake concoctions, Blendy's. I am never coming to your establishment again.

Aaaand end rant.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

When in WV . . .

My in-laws came to visit West Virginia for the first time over the 4th of July weekend. They were probably expecting banjo-playing, toothless rednecks like most people do and, yes, we have our fair share of those. But so do Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Luckily they both enjoy the outdoors, so we were able to show them a lot of what WV has to offer.

The first night they came, we stayed at the Dian Lee House in Bluefield:

Brad and I stayed in the Abe Lincoln Room. It was awesome.

Over the course of the 5 days they were here, we did a lot of this:

And Brad and his dad even did some of this:

We spent some time in Fayetteville, ate at one of our favorite restaurants, Diogi's, and I purchased a pair of Merrell Pace Gloves (which I ran in for the first time today and LOVE). We hiked, drank, ate at a fancy restaurant, visited the Capitol Market, and hiked some more.

While we were showing them around our lovely new(ish) home state, I felt proud of WV. There are so many beautiful places to go and gorgeous natural things to see. So Charleston has very few good restaurants and there isn't a Whole Foods or a Lululemon in the whole state. So no good bands ever play here (outside of Mountain Stage, of course) and the theater is limited. So we're not a major city and we don't have a professional sports team. We have met wonderful people, are making great friendships, and we can get anywhere in the city in 10 minutes. There's never any traffic to speak of. You can hike up a mountain 5 minutes from your house. The air is clean (if you're not near a coalmine) and the trees are big. I've become a trail runner, and Brad a better cyclist. Mountains do that to you -- they make you strong.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Importance of Flag Day

Five years ago today, Brad asked me to marry him. It was a random week night and we took a walk after work to a park on Lake Michigan. It was lovely and romantic and saying "yes" was the best (and easiest) decision I've ever made.

It happened to be Flag day, so I always remember the exact date.

In honor of my husband and our nearly 13 years of couplehood, here are just a few of the many ways in which he has made my life so, so much better:

-He inspired me to lose weight and become active. Not because he ever had a problem with my body, but because I felt like he deserved to be with someone who was healthy and who took care of herself. In the years since my initial weight loss, he has inspired me to canoe in the wilderness, hike mountains, cross country ski, and run. Watching him train and compete in bike races, from crits at the Pittsburgh oval to 100 milers to 24-hour mountain bike races, has inspired me to train for and meet my own athletic goals.

-He got me out of my hometown. I never would have left the little town I grew up in, let alone lived in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia, had I not met Brad.

-He has made me more independent. Brad has a low tolerance for people's bullshit, including mine. He calls me out when I'm being ridiculous, and has helped me to see that I can do anything I want to, and there's absolutely no reason that I need someone to do it with me. My mother can't even put gas in her own car, so I value this more than I can even explain.

-We share a brain. Whether it's from being together for almost 13 years or because we truly are a perfect match, I don't know. But we have the exact same sense of humor and sometimes freak each other out by thinking the same thing at the same time. It's awesome.

-He has introduced me to things such as Tom Waits, camping, and Predator. And for that I will forever be grateful.

Brad is 100% my best friend and I am still sometimes amazed that I landed such a smart, funny, handsome and all around awesome guy. Here's to a lifetime of Flag days to celebrate. XO

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Post HM Blues

It has been a week since I ran my first half marathon. My hips were sore last Sunday so I did nothing except eat Mexican food and drink a margarita with Brad. But already that evening, I was starting to feel the post-event blues.

"I'm kind of depressed that the half marathon is over," I told Brad in our kitchen on Sunday. "I don't have anything to work toward anymore."
"See? Now you get it! Sign up for another one!" said the man who races nearly every weekend from April through November, every year.
"Um, no."

But I have spent the last week thinking about what I want to do next. I love the feeling of setting a big goal and achieving it. All of those weeks of work actually led to something real. I'm not ready to commit to a marathon yet, but I don't think it's completely out of the question in my lifetime.

I think for now, I'm going to keep running (because, turns out? I like it) and try to get faster. I am running with a new friend, E., on Sunday. She is probably much faster than me, and I think that is a step in the right direction. My plan right now is going to be:

1 "track" workout per week (will probably be done on a TM sometimes)

1 fartlek per week

1 LSD per week

2 strength-training sessions per week

+other runs at my regular pace

+more protein in my diet

+run with someone faster sometimes (E. or Brad, if I can ever convince him to run)

Hopefully this will all help me get my average pace down below 10:00 miles.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon

I did it! I set a goal that seemed crazy, and I achieved it. As a fat kid and non-athletic adult, part of me never thought -- even a couple of weeks ago -- that I would actually complete this race. I am ridiculously proud of myself and I'm already thinking about running it again next year.
I took Friday off from work because I knew I would be a ball of nerves, and I needed to get things ready for my trip up to Morgantown. Brad came home from work around noon and brought me a Jimmy John's veggie sub, my absolute favorite sandwich ever. He then packed up and headed to Ohio to race the Mohican 100 and I took Ilsa to the dog spa (AKA Shamrock Stables Boarding Kennel) and headed out.

I spent Friday night at the Clarion Hotel Morgan, which is a beautiful old historic hotel right in downtown Morgantown. There was a special rate for the half marathon, otherwise I would never have been able to afford it. I checked in, then walked over to Black Bear Burritos to get dinner. I ordered the Wing it! burrito to go, and took it back to my hotel room to eat. I drank a bunch of water, watched "I Love You Man" in bed, and then zonked out around 10:00. Do I know how to party or what?
On Saturday I woke up, ate my peanut butter on bread (no toaster), packed up, checked out, and drove to the Hazel Ruby McQuain park to pick up my race packet. There, all of the runners were loaded onto buses and driven to the trailhead in Masontown. I was so nervous during the bus ride. Luckily, I sat next to a friendly, chatty guy who has five kids and was running with his wife, both of them in Vibram Five Fingers! We talked about West Virginia, his shoes, and our training. He told me that I was more dedicated than most, for driving up from Charleston all by myself to do the race. Talking to this guy really calmed my nerves -- I never got his name or saw him after the race, but I hope he did well!

Once we arrived at the trailhead, I waited in line for a really long time to use a port-a-potty, walked about 400 feet down the trail to where everyone was convening, and soon someone yelled "Go!"

So I went.

I had previously committed to using the Galloway Method due to my injured foot. I ran through my first couple of walk intervals (even though Jeff Galloway says those are the most important!) and then settled into my 5:1 intervals. I firmly believe in the power of the walk breaks now. The first few intervals, I would get passed by people during my walk breaks. I would pass them again when running, and they would pass me during my next walk break, etc. But you know what? After about 4 miles, I never saw those people again. They were fading and I was speeding up.

The first 10 miles went by relatively quickly. I stopped at every water station (there were 7, which was awesome) and had water at one, Gatorade at the next. I had eaten 2 of my Powerbar Energy Blasts at mile 7, and that plus all the Gatorade gave me a little boost when I needed it.

Miles 11-13 were tough for me. They were on pavement (the rest had been wooded, dirt trail) and in bright sun. It was hot and my feet were starting to hurt. My right foot was cramping a bit, but my left arch (the injured one) was actually doing OK. I kept trucking along at my intervals. There was a high school rock band playing under a tent at mile 11. There was a water station and a hose spraying down at the trail at mile 12 -- that felt wonderful! A guy wearing a surgical mask rode past me on a recumbent bike with a boombox BLARING Will Smith's "Miami." Not sure where he came from.

Pretty soon I saw mile 13! There were a bunch of people cheering. I was almost there! I ignored my Garmin beeping for my last walk interval and ran right through the finish, grabbed a bottle of water from a volunteer, and went to stand under one of the hoses that were set up to cool people off. I took off my hat and got my hair nice and wet. Then I walked for about 1/2 a mile, ate a slice of pizza, and talked to an acquaintance, Shelly, who had also raced. Before I left, I drank another bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade. It was HOT and I was pretty dehydrated.

I finished in 2:31, which I am really very proud of. My goal had been 2:45 and, with my injury, and I wasn't sure that I would even achieve that. This race was awesome. The course was beautiful, the volunteers were amazing, and the water stops were well-stocked and often.

Every mile -- every single step -- of my training, motivation, preparation, and race was done alone. Would it have been more fun if I'd had a friend to run with or someone waiting for me at the finish? Probably. But I did it, despite thinking that I never could or would, and I did it all. by. my. self.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Bad News

I always want the bad news first. So here it is: my first half marathon, for which I have been training for months, is next weekend. And I hurt my foot.

I had to go out of town for work last Wednesday, and I ended up walking all over downtown Huntington. In ballet flats. And somehow, I stepped off a curb weirdly and strained/pulled/hurt the arch of my left foot. I took a few days off from running, and I've been icing, taping, and taking it easy since. My last long run that was supposed to be last Saturday, was shortened to 6 miles. I feel, suddenly, totally unprepared. I wanted to get one last long run in. I wanted to feel awesome and finish with a time that I was proud of. I wanted, I wanted.

Sometimes shit happens. Life is full of setbacks. I was on the verge of freaking out for a couple of days, until Brad reminded me that I want to continue to run for many years, right?

So here's the good news (there's always good news): I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to show up with my weirdly taped foot and, if it's not 100% better, I'll set my watch for 5:1 intervals, and Galloway this bitch.

And you know? I think I'll still feel proud. Finishing a 13.54 (according to the course map) run, even with a one minute walk break out of every six, is still an accomplishment, something I never thought I would do, ever. I'm going to try to remember that as I eat everyone's dust next Saturday.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Charleston Lately

Brad is gone for the weekend at a 9-hour mountain bike race. Not only did he take my car, the peanut butter, and all of the beer we had in the house, but he also took the last of the coffee. That was a pleasant surprise this morning.


KSF is beautiful, the trails have been great, and I went for an 11-mile run with this guy this morning:
He and I were running at about the same pace today. Look at the pity in his eyes. He's all "Dude, lady. You should be faster than that by now."

I know, turtle, I know. It was just a bad day.

I also saw my first ever bear while running today. It was HUGE and lumbering away from the trail I was on. I stopped for a minute to contemplate what I should do. Sneak away? Continue to stand completely still, staring at it? Yell? In the end, I just continued on my run, checking over my shoulder every now and then. It did not give chase.


My friend Misty turned us on to these real femur bones that are filled with food for our dog. She (the dog, not Misty) has been gnawing on a bacon and cheese flavored one for the past week, with her eyes closed in ecstasy. Probably one of the better purchases I have made for her.

If you have a dog, especially one who is lazy yet needs constant attention like our dog, I highly recommend these. It keeps her occupied for hours.


We finally bought that living room furniture! I am the proud owner of two huge comfortable couches and I love them. They're so nice that they make all of our other furniture look extra shitty in comparison.


Week 5 Training

Monday - yoga + 3 mile run
Tuesday - 3 mile run, tempo pace
Wednesday - 2.75 mile run, 5 horrible hellish hill sprints at the end
Thursday - unplanned rest day. My knee was bugging me.
Friday - Blissful Rest!
Saturday - 11 miles that took a lifetime
Sunday - 4 or 5, depending upon my mood tomorrow

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Yesterday I ran the 11th annual Susan G. Komen WV Race for the Cure here in Charleston. I ran this race last year, and it was my first 5k. This year, my goal was:

1. to PR (My previous 5k PR was the last 5k race I ran, the Turkey Trot, with a time of 31:45)
2. to finish in under 30 minutes.

However, last Wednesday I ran speed intervals on the treadmill and didn't use my knee sleeve. Thursday I ran an easy 2 miles, and my knee hurt pretty badly. I spent the rest of Thursday and Friday icing it every few hours, and my plan was somewhat derailed. I didn't want to hurt my knee in the 5k and risk not being able to run the Half Marathon (which is now less than a month away! EEK!), so my goal became to finish, run as much as I could, not kill myself, and walk if I needed to.

Friday night, Brad and I went out with some friends for happy hour and then dinner, but I made sure to drink a lot of water and only two beers so that I wouldn't be dehydrated for the race on Saturday. After the 5k, my HM training plan called for 6 more miles, which would not be fun hungover!

Saturday morning I woke up, had cereal and coffee, woke Brad up, and we went down to the Capitol grounds, where the festivities were in full swing (Brad was awesome enough to come with me to cheer me on! Thanks, B!). I wore my pink Nike Dri-Fit T-shirt, pink socks, and my pink Bondi band. I don't normally dress in all pink when I run, but at the Susan G Komen race, you stand out if you're NOT in pink!

I hung out with Brad for a while and then went to line up. I was so nervous! I always get pre-race jitters, even though I will never win a race in my life. Soon enough the horn sounded and everyone took off! The other runners and walkers fill both sides of Kanawha Boulevard. It's inspiring when 7000+ people come out to support a cause, especially to do something active.

I kept a good (for me) pace throughout, didn't have to stop to walk at all, and felt good! My knee didn't hurt and I thought maybe -- just maybe -- I would achieve my goal of under 30 minutes.

As I approached the finish line, I saw 30: on the clock. I was so close! But I picked up my pace to finish in under 31:00, and I made it! The official chip results aren't up yet, but I crossed the finish line, high-fiving Brad, just before the clock turned over to 31, so my time will be 30-something. I'm happy with that. Next time, under 30!

After the race, I went home, ate a bagel, and drove to the state forest for another 6 miles. It was a perfect day, the trails were in amazing condition, and I was happy to be able to run on them.

Week 4 Training:

Monday - yoga
Tuesday - 3 miles tempo
Wednesday - 3 miles intervals
Thursday - 2 miles easy
Friday - Blissful Rest
Saturday - 5k race + 6 miles
Sunday - rest -- sore legs!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On My Legs

I've always had big thighs. For the record, I am not calling myself fat. But my legs have always been fat. Large. Shapely. Thick. Or, to use the quintessential midwestern term, "sturdy." Because of this, I have never really worn shorts. Bermudas, sure. Knee-length running tights, yes. But never shorts.

Last week I purchased a pair of Nike Tempo running shorts. Partly because they are popular among runners and I want to be like everyone else, but also because Charleston? It gets super hot in the summer. Last year, I would put on my workout capri pants and run a couple of miles a couple of times a week. But now, my running schedule is busier and I run longer and the capris aren't going to cut it once the temperatures hit 90. And this will happen very soon.

I took them for a spin yesterday, drove to my favorite nearby trail for a quick and dirty 3-miler over my lunch break (Can I just say that this is the best part about working from home?). I'd already applied my Body Glide to avoid chub rub issues, so I took off in my shorts and I started up the hill.

A woman was walking on the trail, and I passed her around the 1.5 mile point and nodded pleasantries. She was looking at my legs as I passed.

"Oh shit, she must think my legs are too fat for these shorts. WTF lady? I can wear shorts if I damn well want to." These thoughts are rolling through my head as I plug along.

I reached the end of the trail and turned to head back. Wouldn't you know, I passed her again! "Hello," "Hi there," still obviously staring at my legs as I went by.

"I clearly should not be wearing these shorts. They must look really bad. I am a giant fat monster." It's amazing how quickly what I imagine one complete stranger thinks of me can ruin my mood.

When I got back to my car, I remembered that my leg looked something like this:

IMAGE SOURCE - if this was my actual leg I would not have these issues

And that might have been what she was staring at. Whew! Self-esteem meltdown caused by total stranger averted.

Here's a little bonus story:

Picture it: Pittsburgh, 2008. Brad's friend Ned rolls up to our house on his road bike to go for a ride with Brad.

From inside our kitchen, I hear Brad say, "Dude. Your thighs are huge."

And Ned answer,"Yeah, thanks!"

There's one conversation that would never pass between two women.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

An Easy Week

This week ended up being quite an easy week in my half marathon training, due to a skipped workout (oops) and another shortened one (oops). Here's what I did:

Week 3 Training

Monday - yoga
Tuesday - (should have been 4 miles, actually skipped because I waited for 10 hours for the Suddenlink guy to show up to install my office phone. Not cool, Suddenlink.)
Wednesday - 2 miles intervals (fast and fun!)
Thursday - 3 miles tempo (this should have been 4 but I was short on time)
Friday - Blissful rest
Saturday - 9 beautiful KSF miles
Sunday - 4 miles easy pace

My 9-miler this morning was awesome! The weather was perfect, the trails were perfect, and I had one of those elusive good runs. I felt strong and bad ass running hills, even with my dorky water bottle fanny pack thing. I borrowed Brad's iPod because mine isn't holding a charge for some reason, and it was great to hear something different than my normal running playlists. He has great taste in music, and today I heard everything from Lil Wayne and Jay-Z to the Decemberists and Grinderman. It was a welcome change.

Off to enjoy this beautiful Saturday!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Training Week 2: Electric Boogaloo

Today Brad and I looked at the ominous weather forecast (storms all day) and decided to go back to the furniture store we went to last Saturday to look at some living room furniture. We found some couches that we want to buy, but we left empty handed again! Brad wants to think about it some more -- it's a big investment, and one that we will have to live with for a long time! I think we will be going back to buy them, though, because we both really like them and we seriously need new living room furniture. The small, uncomfortable, dog-stained hand-me-downs just aren't cutting it anymore.

Anyway, I was planning an 11 mile run today, but decided to push it back until tomorrow because of the forecast. Wouldn't you know, it ended up being nice and sunny all afternoon. When we got home, I put on my running clothes and went for a very easy 2 mile run. I am running my 11-miler tomorrow, and I normally take the day before my long runs off completely. Just after I got back home the wind started blowing like crazy, and the skies are all black. Brad is out there on his road bike -- I can't imagine how he could be riding in this wind!

Also, I received a box of Easter candy in the mail from my mother yesterday, including Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs, two of my absolute favorite things in the whole world.

Wow, this is all very stream-of-consciousness.

Week 2 Training:

Monday - Yoga
Tuesday - 3 miles steady
Wednesday - 4 miles, with 4 horrible, hellish hill sprints at the end
Thursday - 3 miles steady
Friday - Blissful Rest
Saturday - 2 miles easy peasy
Sunday - 11 miles

Friday, April 15, 2011

32 Going on 13(.1)

After weeks of quietly training, I finally signed up for the Decker's Creek Trail Half Marathon. The race is on June 4th, and I am simultaneously excited and terrified. 13.1 miles is a long distance to run, but I feel confident that I can do it. I just hope I don't win the caboose award for bringing up the rear.

Of course, I will be completing, not competing. I do have a goal time in mind, but that is plan B. Plan A is just to finish. I read a lot of runners' blogs, and I can't help but compare my slow running times to their much speedier ones. Not to mention all of the seriously fast runners who will be running the half marathon that day, who will probably be showered and on their way home by the time I finish. It's going to be very hard, but I'm going to try to only focus on myself, how I feel, and the goal at hand -- just to do it.

Brad, who has been sidelined for the last few weeks with a knee injury and is missing the beginning of his race season as we speak, helped me set up a training plan for the 8 weeks leading up to the race. This week was week 1 of his plan, and so far I've been doing well.

Week 1 Training:
Monday - Yoga
Tuesday - 3 miles intervals
Wednesday - 3 miles steady (I actually ran intervals this day instead)
Thursday - 3 miles intervals (I actually ran steady / tempo on this day)
Friday - Blissful rest!
Saturday - 9 miles
Sunday - 3 miles easy / recovery

You will see that this plan has me running 5 days a week, and before I had been running 3 or 4 and taking at least two complete rest days per week. It's going to be hard, but everything in life worth doing is hard.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Best / Worst Run Ever

Yesterday was the day that I have been thinking about with simultaneous dread and excitement for weeks now. It was my very first 10 mile run.

I have been covertly training for something that I'm not ready to talk about yet, but it has involved running distances that I never thought I would be physically able to run (see above: 10 miles).

It's been well documented here that I was a fat kid / fat teenager / fat college student, and I grew up almost completely sedentary, using my energy to smoke and be angry at the world. I've never been athletic and I still don't consider myself an athlete, a runner, or even particularly fit. Just last summer, I thought running 5 miles was something I'd never be able to do. Now, 5 miles on nasty / lovely KSF trails is a great way to spend a weekend morning, or decompress after a rough day at work. It's still not easy for me, but it's fun and challenging in a good way.

Yesterday, I woke up and looked at the weather forecast. It was supposed to rain, and then not for several hours, and then rain again. So I hung out and drank coffee until about 10:30, when all signs of rain seemed to have passed. Brad taped up my knee for me, I packed some jelly beans, water, and my Uggs (for the drive home), and headed out to the state forest. I was wearing my new Brooks Cascadia 6's for their first long run and would be using this water bottle fanny pack thing that Brad bought for me. I was set.

I parked at the back of the forest and headed out. Uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill, pass some mountain bikers, eat a few jelly beans, 5 miles. Easy peasy. I was at my turn-around point and feeling pretty good.

Then it started to rain. I was wearing knee-length tights, a tank top, a light jacket with thumbholes, and a running hat. I was warm enough, until the hail came. With it came wind. I was on the top of a ridge, and the wind blew right through my wet lycra and into my exposed ears. I was freezing and I had 5 miles to go!

I saw the mountain bikers again in another mile or so, they called me "fucking crazy" for running in the hail storm.

But it did end after a short while, I did make it back to my car, I did live to tell the tale. Of course it all seemed very dramatic at the time, but it was kind of awesome. I felt pretty bad ass.

I was freezing on the drive home. I was also starving, but I can't really eat for a few hours after a long or difficult run. All food is unappealing and I get sick to my stomach if I do eat. So I took a hot hot shower, made a smoothie and sipped it, wrapped in a blanket on the couch while watching Project Runway.

And today it is 65 and sunny. Ah, the irony.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In a Funk

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Here's why:

1. My car has been in the shop for nearly 3 weeks and needs a new transmission, to the tune of several thousand dollars.
2. I dropped my phone last week and the screen now has a giant crack across it. My only option is to tape it up and keep using it. Can you say "ghetto?"
3. Brad had the flu since Sunday and is just now feeling back to his normal self. I have not gotten it yet, but I feel off. Head floaty and kind of like I got hit by a truck or fell down the stairs

I haven't put on make up or done anything with my hair all week. I don't normally doll up too much to work from home, but I at least usually wear normal clothes and do a little something with myself. I am a newlywed after all! This week? I went out in public wearing sweatpants and Ugg boots, having not showered. Granted, it was only to Rite Aid to get Brad's Tamiflu prescription filled, but still.

But today, after wallowing in my "I'm getting sick" and then my "I fell down the stairs" all day, I finally got up from my desk at 500, took a shower, dried my hair and put on jeans and some mascara. I feel 100% better (although my ass still hurts something fierce from my tumble).

I'm in a funk, you could say. But I'm trying to pull myself out of it.

I could really use a cupcake right about now.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recipe: Carrot Cake Smoothie

I love smoothies, but I normally put the same basic ingredients in every one that I make: banana, almond milk, spinach, and protein powder. Blah. I'm getting sick of these, so today for lunch I decided to try something new. There are many versions of a carrot cake smoothie out there, but I threw this together with what I had on hand and it's delicious!

You can't tell in this picture that it's a pretty peach color!

Carrot Cake Smoothie


1 c. unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of your choice)
1/2 c slightly cooked, cooled carrots (I microwaved sliced carrots in a bit of water for about a minute, then ran them under cold water to cool them off)
1 banana
1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut
1 serving vanilla protein powder
a few drops of vanilla extract
a few shakes of ginger and ground cloves
a healthy dusting of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum (optional -- makes smoothies thick and fluffy)
1/4 tsp. guar gum (optional -- keeps smoothies from separating)
6 ice cubes

Blend. Pour. Slurp. Enjoy!

And since I'm back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon, this whole smoothie is only 5 points (it could be more or less depending upon protein powder brands. I used Trader Joe's whey protein).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A facebook friend posted this video, and it brought tears to my eyes. This guy is an inspiration!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Football: A Personal History

Despite the Packers fervor that surrounded me, I never watched football growing up. I was this kind of punk/smart girl hybrid who read Bukowski, smoked cigarettes on my lunch break, and thought I was way too cool to go to prom (nevermind that no one actually asked me -- I was too punk rock for formals anyway). I watched exactly one Packer game in my youth -- It was Superbowl XXXI in 1996. I was a senior in high school. My dad and my uncle Tom were at the game in New Orleans. Brett Favre was in the prime of his career and Desmond Howard made a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Packers won.

Fast forward ten years. I move from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh, and it's the first time I've lived in a city with an NFL team. Everyone in Pittsburgh is obsessed with football. Everywhere you look it's black and gold. At first I ignored the terrible towels and the football potlucks at work. I saw Troy Polamalu at the airport once and didn't know what all the fuss was about. Brad and I took to calling Ben Roethlisberger "Toothlessberger." I met some friends who also didn't watch football, and I planned my weekly grocery store trips for when the Steelers were playing. The shops were always dead.

At some point during the 3.5 years we lived in Pittsburgh, though, something changed. It started when I realized what a great player Troy Polamalu actually was. I would watch the game, if it was on, when I was home. Then, the Steelers started doing very well. Then they were in the playoffs. Then they went to Superbowl XLIII, which was an awesome game, and they won. Students set sofas on fire in Oakland, and there were near riots on the streets of Pittsburgh. I discovered Casey Hampton, who may be my very favorite Steeler simply because he was given the nickname "Big Snack" by his teammates.

In Pittsburgh, with short hair; Ilsa in her makeshift
Big Snack jersey. Superbowl 2009.

It was official. I was a Steeler fan. My father was understandably disappointed.

Superbowl half time with friends, 2009. DORKS!

But after Brett Favre moved from the Jets to the Vikings, there were rumblings of this new Packers quarterback who was as good as Favre had been in the nineties. So I watched a Packer game, if it was on, when I was home. And the Vikings too, if I happened to catch a game. And before I knew what was happening, I full-fledged cared about football. I have a new favorite defensive player -- Clay Matthews -- although I still love Polamalu and of course, Big Snack.

I whip my hair back and forth! (Image Source)

Today, the Steelers will play the Jets and the Packers will play the Bears. The possibility of a Packers - Steelers Superbowl is imminent. It would be simultaneously the best and worst game for Brad and I: our two favorite teams! Who to root for? Of course there is a possibility that both of our favorite teams will lose today, making it the worst day in NFL football history. But I'm a glass-half-full kind of girl.

Somewhere inside of my psyche, that 17-year-old punk girl's head just exploded.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's 2011

This is my office. It's in my spare bedroom. Working from home is awesome.

It's also very hard and in an effort to prove myself, I work far more hours than I would be working if I still went to an office.

On the plus side, I get to wear random assortments of clothing every day and burn scented candles without fear of upsetting co-workers with delicate olfactory senses.

Speaking of the plus side, I re-joined Weight Watchers yesterday. Years ago, I had a lot of success with the plan but stopped short of my weight goal. I was looking at some old photos the other day and realized that the 10 pounds that I've put on? Yeah. It's noticeable.

Happy 2011. This year is going to be awesome, I can tell already!