About Me

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My real life is a lot like THS (True Hollywood Story) except there's no fame, fortune, or drug addiction. Instead, I'm happily married, have two children, and a dog who's prone to barfing at 3 am. I love them all, but I also have to run away from them every day. I always run back, though.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

To Resolve or Not to Resolve

That is the question.

It is New Year's Eve and most are probably thinking over what they will resove to change in the forthcoming year. In years past I have always resolved to not resolve. I never like to make promises I won't keep (especially to that all important person, myself), so I have vowed year after year to not change anything, and to always remain the same. Yet, this year has me thinking differently.

I usually reserve my panic about my life and what I have or have not accomplished in my time on Earth for birthdays. Last year that led to a list of five things I want to do before I'm thirty: get married (check), run a marathon (goddammit, I'm working on that), publish a book (starting to feel like a distant dream), go to Italy (must remember to start saving for that), and find a job I enjoy (or that pays me really well). I have a whole list of other things I'd like to learn or do as well that include learning to rock out on the drums, take dance lessons, sky dive, and learn a foreign language (I mean really learn it, not just be capable of asking where the bathroom is).

But I've been thinking that this year will be the year that I decide to work toward these goals at the start of the new year instead of waiting until my birthday (besides, this year I turn an even number and I always feel good about turning an even number -- it's the odd years that prompt me to think about my life). The new year is the perfect time for a resolution; a fresh leaf, a new start, a beginning, because tommorow is not just another day -- it's a new year! So, what will I resolve?

I can't get more married and I am working on that marathon dream. Italy is probably a year away, but we could count my change jar as a savings account for that. My job? Well, I don't hate teaching, I just wish I got paid more to do it. So I either need to find a full time position, or I need to go back to school for my PhD; that's what I've decided. I have applications in for both. I'll let you know what happens. So, it comes down to the book. Publish a book.

Publish a book. Hmmm, such a commitment. Can I do it? Is it feasible? Do I dare resolve to work toward that? Such a big endeavor (even if it is written and sitting in my desk drawer). Hmmm, this will be an all day consideration. Let you know tomorrow.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Lighted Path

Yesterday I tested out a new running route partially because I am increasing my mileage and am forced to break away from my solid path, but also partially because I recognize the need to breakaway from my solid path. This new path was fine, except it forces me to double back, and I don't like that. I like either running to a destination or running in a loop -- I don't like the feeling of retracing my steps; it makes me feel like I've already covered that ground. The other thing I didn't like about that route was that I had to cross three intersections with lights.

Mostly I try to avoid intersections like these, three reasons:

Chief reason number one: If the light is red when you approach it, you have to do one of two things -- stop running and stand there, or jog in place. I don't like to just stop running because then I lose my momentum, and I don't like to jog in place because I feel like a geek jogging there while everyone in traffic looks at you. So, I always cross my fingers and hope that every light I hit will be green when I hit it.

Secondary reason: If the light is green when I get there, and I have the opportunity to run across the street, I never quite trust drivers to not run me over. Especially drivers who are turning right. Some of them looked pissed that I'm delaying their turn, others leer, and others aren't even looking. (When I was a kid, we had an Atari and I loved the game "Frogger" -- where you try to steer the frog across the road without getting smashed. Well, I had a sicko streak and kinda liked seeing the frog get smooshed, and well, sometimes I think people have real life feelings like those about runners crossing the street. Sure, it's morally wrong to strike a runner down in the prime of her life, but perhaps it is also humorous.) It freaks me out and I always hesitate when crossing a lighted intersection, even when the light is in my favor.

Last reason: I like to pretend when I am running that no one can see me. It's the only way I can consciously do it outside over and over again. People look at runners; I look at runners. And I don't like to be noticed like that. So, when I run I mostly chose paths that have little or no traffic, but this route that I chose yesterday has heavy traffic. I don't mind the cars if they're just cruising by, but at the light, that's when you know they are going to stare at you. How could they not? They're sitting in their vehicle while you trot in front of them -- it's like a performance.

If I had my way, we would have little skyway bridges over every intersection to avoid these problems and I think that not only would the running world thank me for the idea, but I think walkers, bikers and roller bladers alike would be thankful for such innovation.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Foot Fetish

I've noticed in the past week that the skin on my toes has been peeling off in chunks. First, it kinda bubbles up -- like a blister, but not painful -- then it peels off in a clump of skin. It's remarkably disgusting, and I'm not sure if it's a side effect from running, or if I'm just shedding some skin, like a snake, and soon the shedding will spread to other parts.

I'm a little dismayed at the sight of this peeling since my feet have actually been one of my features that I've always been rather fond of. I'm not ashamed to say that they are extrodinarily cute. For one thing, they are very small, almost child-sized feet, and my husband can cup one of them in his palm. So, that makes them adorable. But they're also nicely shaped feet: No strange arch or weirdly long or narrow shape; the toes are arranged in descending order (as God intended, not like some of these feet I've seen that have toes growing out all nimbly-bimbly ignoring the command of the Big Toe -- which should always be the largest); and I have a always had nice toe nails (with the exception of the spring I broke off my Big Toe nail in soccer; I'll admit, that was gross). But the thing that really makes my feet cute, is that on the bottom of one there is a mole -- not a big hariy mole -- but a flat, personalized one.

But just because my feet have always been cute, don't go assuming that I have treated them delicately. No, I spent most of my childhood with caluses as thick as plywood and playing sports in high school and college left them with patches of athlete's foot and dry skin. Later, as I worked part-time as a waitress for many years, my feet suffered from fatigue and stress as I stood on them for hours at a time. And now we come to this point, a point where I run on them four days a week with increasing mileage. Even though they have high tech shoes between them and the pavement, they still take a beating.

Still, I can't help but think this recent skin peeling is odd. It looks odd. And for the first time in my life, I feel like hiding those little toes away. Will the shedding subside? Will it increasingly get worse? Will my toes rub away? Will I be left with nubs (and therefore, will I be able to balance on those nubs)? I was so concerned about my waistline, that I never thought about the effects this running might have on my feet. What will become of them?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Winter Weather

South Florida really does have a pleasant winter. True, we don't get the holiday snow, or even frost, and that kinda sucks for those of us who grew up with wintry weather; however, you can't deny how beautiful it is here right now. It's a little crisp first thing in the morning, but by mid-afternoon, it's in the low 70s, dry with soft breezes. Perfect for running.

Yesterday evening when I went for my run, it felt good just to be breathing the air and feeling my skin whoosh (that is the "technical" term) against the fabric of the landscape (poetic, I know). It was one of those afternoons that just makes you feel happy and content. It sounds so cheesy to even mention, but it really was the sort of weather that feels good to inhale, and the sight of such a blue sky against so much green is pleasing to behold.

I love to breathe in dry air -- must be because I grew up in Colorado where the air is exceedingly dry and thin (thus, your skin feels cracked and aged, and that's why many new comers suffer from nose bleeds, headaches, and nausea). I can remember hiking when I was kid and I would stand in the trees and suck in the scent of pine and dirt, and it smelled so clean and fresh. That's why I actually loved walking home from college in the deep of winter when I lived in Minnesota: Those really painfully cold nights, I'd be walking home from a late class or time spent at the school newspaper, when I'd breathe in, and my nose hairs would crystalize and when I'd exhale the cloth of my scarf would frost. I loved those solitary walks home in the dark -- the stars always looked so crisp and clear in the inky night and the air around me felt so thin and vacuous.

Here in Florida I have discovered new ways to enjoy the outside air (what is mostly thick, mucusy wet air), and while it is mostly paradoxical of the climates I am used to, there are times when I inhale and it smells or feels like I am in the north. I have to savor this time of year: In a few months running outside will return to a sticky, sweaty mess.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Approaching New Year

Yesterday evening I was in Barnes & Noble shopping with the gift cards I received for Christmas (can't help myself -- I am addicted to books and I couldn't wait any longer to go and get some); there I noticed the large population of books on weight loss, nutrition, and exercise that were crowding the ends of shelves. There were also many books on how to look and feel younger, example title: "Turn Back the Clock," rubbing shoulders with the other diet and exercise manuals.

These books signal the lurking new year approaching at the end of this week, and everyone is starring at his or her waistline regretting what he or she ate over Christmas, or maybe even thinking all the way back to when the overeating started at Thanksgiving. The diet book industry, which is part of the mammoth self-help book industry, makes gajillions of dollars every year, and yet I am here to help save you money. Don't buy a single book out there about how to lose weight or how to look younger, because I will save you $23.95 by telling you what each one will recommend. Every kind of those books is based on five basic tenets of good health, and they are:

1. Get plenty of sleep. Everyone should know by now that sleep deprived people are more prone to weight gain than those who feel rested. Also, getting enough rest is essential to maintaining your youth; you can spot a tired person because they look old and haggard. Generally, those who get at least eight hours a night maintain steadier weights, are less likely to overeat and more likely to get daily exercise, and they have a more positive outlook on life. So get all your zzz's.

2. Drink plenty of water. Go by the standard eight glasses of eight ounces rule. Drinking water helps everything in your physical body function better, and even helps you look better -- skin needs to be hydrated, and this also affects your hair and nail quality. Thus, the chapter in every "look younger book" on drinking water. In this category, the books will also advise keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum (obviously alcohol is hihg in calories and it dehydrates you, odd tradition that we start our New Year with so much of it).

3. Eat plenty of fresh food. Many diet manuals emphasize shopping for food around the outside rim of the grocery store -- that's where you usually find the dairy, deli, meat, and produce sections and you avoid the middle which includes all the boxed, canned and frozen foods which are all generally high in sodium and preservatives. Make sure you get the appropriate servings of fruits and veggies -- they have the necessary fiber, vitamins, and water content to help you lose weight.

4. Get daily exercise. The new food pyramid actually recommends ninety minutes of exercise a day five days a week if you have a sedentary job, as most of us do. But don't freak out. Walking from your car, or up a flight of stairs could count as part of your exercise, as well as yard and housework. Still, you should aim for thirty minutes of exercise a day to help your heart, lungs, and muscles. What you do for exercise should be based on what you like. I like to run -- it clears my head and makes me feel strong and healthy. But I strongly recommend that whatever exercise you do should be something you enjoy; otherwise, you will quit doing it in a week.

5. Relax. Stress and fatigue are probably Americans' numbers one and two reasons for weight gain, aging, and depression (which affects your health negatively in a dozen ways). So, you have to find your own ways of letting go and enjoying life. This can mean taking time to read a book, watch a TV show (preferrably a funny one; laughing is good for all around health), pet your dog or cat (pets are proven to lower stress and people who own pets are reportedly much happier than those who don't), have a beer with a friend, meditate, knit, whatever. Just take the time to not worry so much.

I am, by no means, master of any of these concepts. Still, as the public service announcements used to say: "Knowing is half the battle." Buying one of those gimmicky books will only elaborate on those things which you already know, so instead of buying a book or video, or whatever, we could all be better served by actually trying to follow those ideas. As best as we can while also keeping in mind what's good for us (being stick thin, not good for you; being healthy, good for you) and by being reasonable with goals and expectations. Don't buy the books; that would be feeding an evil machine, a machine that could use a diet.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Month of Marriage

While yesterday was certainly notable because it marked Christmas, it was also notable in my household as the one month anniversary of our wedding. We really only celebrated the Christmas aspect -- we're not really the sort to celebrate month anniversaries, but there were still loads of gifts and good food. I don't really have anything to say about our first month of marriage, except that saying it sounds like a book title.

Yesterday was also supposed to be my day for a long run, but because it was Christmas, and because I just didn't feel like it, I didn't run. In some ways I felt guilty since the reasoning behind this new schedule was to keep me from coming up with excuses, but on the other hand, I didn't feel shamed about taking a day off to eat copious amounts of turkey and enjoy the day. Today, I plan to make up the long run and go for it early this evening. I just finished adding the second coat of paint to my office, and feel pretty worn out from that; however, I am not going to leave running out today. I'm just going to sit for a spell, have a cup of caffeinated tea, and get into the mood.

First I have to get out of these filthy clothes (I look like a Jackson Pollack painting) and clean up my supplies. One thing at a time.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Leaving a Mark

Today was my day to cross train, so instead of running, I went for a long walk. I like walking; it's very relaxing and I seem to have more room in my brain to let my mind wander; whereas when I run, I often am just focused on the running itself, or the music blaring through my MP3. While I was walking this afternoon, I was passed by two runners. One, a small woman about my height in a very cute running outfit that was all coordinated. Secondly, by a tall man with long legs and no coordination of running clothes. And after watching each pass me by, it struck me how different each runner truly is.

Like a fingerprint or snowflake, each runner seems to have an individual gait -- their own way of running that is like no other runner. The petite woman who was dressed so smartly ran with short, calculated steps; on the other hand, the tall man's stride reminded me a bit of a loopy Labrador retriever with big clodding strides and a thumping way of pounding the sidewalk as if his feet were hooves. But these aren't the only two runners I've noted. I see hundreds of runners each week. Some I see running outside and many others I see in the gym, and I witness both the very graceful and the very strange ways of running.


I used to believe that the best runners were those with the long, steady stride, the ones that looked as though they were floating just inches above the pavement, and I have seen some runners who actually run like that. Yet, I have seen others run like they have something rammed up their ass, others who run kinda lopsided as if one leg is longer than the other, others who run a little crooked (they kinda weave back and forth and when I run next to these types in races I'm never sure if they're going to run into me or not). I also see people who run with very short, practiced steps, and then there are others who look like they are trying to reach into next week with their step.

Then there's me. How do I run? I really can't tell you. Some days I feel as though I am one of those crooked runners with one pigeon-toed foot and one foot slapping the pavement next to its retarded brother. Sometimes I'm extremely conscious of how my butt and thighs must jiggle up and down as I stomp my way down the path, and I think I have all the gracefulness of T-Rex. And other times I feel as though I am one of those perfect gliders who make running look easy and focused. On some of the treadmills at the gym, I can see my reflection in the glass doors of the dance studios and I catch a glimpse of a short (because my legs are Smurf-length) but even stride.

I am conscious of standing up straight, keeping my core tight, pumping my arms close to my body, and making sure my feet land heel first and roll onto their balls as I learned so long ago in seventh grade track. There are things I could improve about my stride I'm sure -- ways to adjust and smooth it out -- but I like the idea of having an individual mark on my sport. And if we had snow here in South Florida, I could turn and admire the tracks I made in the frost, and I would be happy to see how they said something about me and my running.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Busy busy

Sorry it's been a couple of days since my last post. I've been busy with the remodeling job (requires many hours on a stepladder with a paint roller in my hand) and getting ready for Christmas (actually, that's a lie -- I'm all done with my shopping and we're not entertaining so I haven't doing anything on that front). But you will be happy to know that I have been keeping up with my training schedule and have had some good runs so far this week.

On Tuesday I actually ran the fastest three miles I think I've run since my high school days: 3 miles in 30 minutes. I think it was because I was so highly caffeinated (one latte and two diet pepsis; I could have pulled a Volkswagon behind me I was so energized) that day, but who knows? I tried to repeat that time again yesterday, but only managed to run the 3 miles in 32 minutes. Poop.

Today is my day off, so I applied a second coat of paint to some bookshelves this morning, and then picked up around the house, and now I plan to spend the rest of the day laying around and reading.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Zzzzzzz....

I can't sleep. An infliction that strikes me from time to time. Not complete insomnia (which, by the way, is an affliction that few really suffer from: most get some sleep), but I am having trouble falling asleep. Usually I have this issue when I have too much on my mind, but I'm on break from classes right now and am actually enjoying the bliss of peace of mind; however, as I was trying to get to sleep my mind was strangely focused on things of little or trivial importance (for instance, I started to panick about what to make for dinner tomorrow night -- I wanted to make something out of the leftover ham, maybe a soup, but I couldn't think of a soup recipe for ham off the top of my head) and then my mind becomes so fixated on that issue that I have to get out of bed to investigate (thus, I got up to flip through cookbooks: you'll be relieved to know that I found a suitable recipe that doesn't require a trip to the store).

Sleep is a cherished thing for me, and when I can't easily drift off, it bothers me; plus, it interrupts the whole next day as well because I'll invariably sleep later than usual and the whole process will begin like a sickening merry-go-round. So, after dealing with the recipe business I decided to hop online and check out sleep remedies. Mostly I found the usual: warm bath, cup of warm milk (thought has always repulsed me), cup of decaf tea, deep breathing, etc. But interestingly enough, I found some other strange ideas: sleep with your head facing north (as if! I never know what direction I'm pointed even when I'm not lying down), toe wiggling, belly rubbing, and something called "quiet ears" -- a meditation practice that requires you to focus on a remembered sound.

But along with the advice (sage and otherwise), I learned some more about sleep. I have long known, along with everyone else, that sleep is essential to good health and usually I feel as though that is the one area in which I exceed all standards of good practice. And I also knew that sleep is aided by regular exercise (not a problem -- went to the yoga class, sanded the shit out of the walls of the office), a cooler room, a firm bed, and an avoidance of caffeine. But I did learn that my favorite sleeping position, on my stomach, is the worst for you. It compresses your organs and causes back pain (but is oh so comfy for me). And I also learned that counting sheep really can help you get to sleep.

However much info I gleaned, my own methods seem to be kicking in now. When I can't sleep, I usually get up if it's been too long (recommended action: if you've been lying there for more than 30 minutes, you should get up), have a snack, and read or play around watching TV, or playing on the computer. Once the snacks set in and I have exhausted my brain with some mental stretching, I usually feel sleepy, as I do now.

Perhaps I will try to wake myself early tomorrow so I don't feel like this tomorrow night, but until then I'll just enjoy the incoming Z's.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sanding for Strength

Today is supposed to be my Strength and Stretch day on the training schedule, but I've returned to working on the house, and my little arms feel weak from sanding all afternoon. Some of you might remember that we bought a house last spring and have been in the process of remodeling since then. Well, with the wedding and the holidays and everything, we kinda stalled out on the project in November, but now that I have two weeks off for Christmas vacation, I have decided to resume work on the office -- where we left off. I'm particularly anxious to finish this room because that means I could unpack all my books and get my desk moved in there (right now my work station is in the living room), so I started again on the work today.

And boy are my arms tired.

I forgot how much work this house stuff is. After working so hard all summer, I didn't think it was possible to forget the pain, but the memory has returned full force, and sanding is the most dreaded job on my list. I think I even prefer the task of scraping off wallpaper. The thing about sanding is not just that it's tedious or that it is incredibly dirty (and you feel like your throat, ears and nose are coated in dust, thus the plaster boogers), but it's really about how tiring it is. The sander is not light (3 and a half pounds: yes, I weighed that fucker) and your arms get sore from the sanding action.

With the up and down of the stepladder added in (not to mention the boxes I hauled around this morning), I think I got my strength in by doing that and I can already feel how my arms will be weak and sore tomorrow. But I do still have the "stretch" aspect to fit in; perhaps I will go to a yoga class tonight. I don't know. I'm feeling awfully lazy now after the day of manual labor.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Great Outdoors

I ran my "long" run -- 3 miles this week -- outside this afternoon. The weather was nice: overcast, cooler, hint of a breeze, and it's always nice to get away from the treadmill. However, running outside has dramatically changed since hurricane Wilma tore through here just two months ago. When the storm hit, she ripped up many trees and those trees ripped up the sidewalks or tumbled down across the paths and streets of the area. The trees also knocked fences and concrete walls into the sidewalks and streets, and crews are still in the process of not just removing the brush, but also repairing the sidewalks and pathways.

For the most part, there are long strips of uninterrupted cement, but there are other sections where the sidewalk is completely missing ("where the sidewalk ends," you could say), and in its wake are gaping holes or jumbled piles of blocks. In other spots, the sidewalk remains, but debris still sits on the path and jumping around or over it wears me out. So, for many portions of my run today, I ran on the street. Thankfully the streets in the area of my course are fairly empty and traffic is light; still, cars always act as though the swerving around you is a big deal, and they swing way over into the other lane. Which, I have to admit, is better than some drivers who refuse to budge to the side even when there's plenty of room. Instead, they brush right by you -- so close you feel the rush of air that follows their vehicle.

Drivers in general can react so strangely to runners or walkers on the side of the road. There are, of course, the whistlers or the honkers (I hate the latter; it scares the bejesus out of me) and those that yell "hey baby!" But once I had a guy literally turn around and stop and tell me I was beautiful. I'm not sure what he was doing -- is that how he asks women out? If so, he needs a quick course, because that method is the quick-study stalker method, one that is not appreciated by women. Then there are those like I listed above: They either ignore your presence on the road, or act as though you are as wide as a cement truck. But lastly, there are those that don't seem to see you at all.

Now, there were times in my life, particularly when I was a child wishing for magical abilities, that I wished for invisibility, but I have never ever wished for such a gift as I was running. However, some people just can't see me. These are the drivers who pull out right in front of you as you are jogging across a crosswalk while the light is in your favor. And they are the ones who blow the red light just as you are stepping off a curb ( I once had my life flash before my eyes when I stepped back up onto the curb just in time to miss a van that was so close I could taste its paint). And it's these drivers that I fear, because I think one day they will just run me down, but the worst part will be that they won't even know -- because they never saw me -- and they'll figure they hit a dog or a cat and they'll cruise on. Meanwhile, I'll be left without the use of my limbs to bleed in the street.

So, when the sidewalks are returned to normal here I'll thankfully hop back on them and praise the lord that they are there. Because the street -- that belongs to the crazies.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Headache

I have a pounding headache this morning from the Christmas party we hosted last night. I didn't think I had that much to drink, but it must've been the combination of champagne, beer, and cosmos because my head is killing me. I popped a couple of Advil, so I'm waiting for them to work their magic, and in the meantime, I'm sucking down water.

It was a good party though and I had lots of fun. We shared some drinks, some laughs, some food, and some gifts. I received a great t-shirt that reads "I'm a Virgin (This is an Old T-Shirt)"! Don't you love that? I love it! In fact I love it so much I fell asleep (passed out) in it and it was even comfy as pajamas.

We even sampled some of the Jones Soda "Holiday Pack" -- each soda tasted like part of a holiday meal: turkey, stuffing, cranberry, pumpkin pie. I was only willing to sample the cranberry, and the thought of drinking the others kinda made me want to vommit.

So, all in all, it was a great holiday party and I love those.

(Ahh, this entry really sucks, doesn't it? Sorry, but I'm just a touch hungover and can't say that I have anything truly coherent or interesting to note. Perhaps I will be improved for tomorrow's post. Disregard this one if you need to.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

For my Peeps

Since it is the holidays, and the holidays are a time to say "thank you," I wanted to say a little thank you to all of you who have both read my blog this year and commented on it. For those of you who read and write comments: You've been especially encouraging and helpful. Many days when I feel sick of running and ready to give up on this endeavor, your comments always help me press on. Others of you have proven to be a wealth of knowledge -- many of you know so much about running, nutrition, and overall health that I am begining to feel as though I have my own private dieticians and coaches alongside me. And lastly, your comments have helped make me feel a part of something (is anyone tearing up yet?) and that has been invaluable.

For those who read, but don't comment: It's alright. I don't mind a lurker. I do the same on other blogs -- some of them might be your blogs. I know you've been there and have read, and I've been encouraged to see how the traffic on this site has increased since its inception and that is thanks to you. There are many days when I feel like I have nothing to say and little to share with you, yet it is the knowledge that someone is reading that helps me get to the blog and write my bit. However, I do encourage you to comment, especially if you've been reading for awhile and have never done it -- I do like hearing your voice.

So, whether you're celebrating Christmas, Kwanza, Channukah, or if you're sacrificing live chickens this holiday season, I hope you are healthy and happy, and I want you to know how much I appreciate this small fan base (if you weren't crying before, I hope you are now). Thanks guys!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

End of the Semester

Yippie! Today is the end of the semester. That means that I have to read a pile of papers that stretches up to the ceiling, but it also means that by this time tomorrow, I will be finished with this term. I'm ready to be done with this semester: We had so many disruptions from the busy hurricane season (including two full weeks off after Wilma swept through in October), and I don't know if that's why students seem so out of it or what, but I've also had many student issues this semester. Lots of problems with absences, tardys, late work, etc -- all the stuff that can make teaching tedious work and makes students so much less enjoyable ( I am particularly glad to see one guy go -- he gave me trouble all semester and I wish I had the grounds to fail him).

But that is behind me, and now I have two weeks off to rest and rejuvenate and get ready for the next semester so I can be fresh and ready for a new batch.

Despite the busy day today, I demonstrated my new committment to the training schedule by taking time to leave campus and go run the designated distance for the day. I really love the idea of such a cemented routine -- it helps to eliminate all excuses I manufacture, and with the next two weeks much more open, I will hopefully have the time to truly make progress with this new endeavor.

But, right now, I must return to essay reading and assessing -- what joy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

10K Training

I have set my sights on my new running goal: the 10K. I figure I have been playing around with the 5K for long enough and it is time to graduate to the next level. So, I have determined to train and set my goal for a race that is on February 25th. That gives me about ten weeks to prepare. Yesterday, I downloaded a training program and have decided to commit to it.

It makes me feel good to have a goal set in front of me, and I especially like have the schedule. It helps me adhere to a specific routine, something I think my running needs. That way, even on days when I don't feel like working out, I can't give myself any excuses to skip it or postpone it or cut it short. I have to follow the schedule.

The schedule includes one day of rest a week, two days that incorporate strength training and two days that require cross training. So, hopefully this will add to my running, but will also add some variety to my workouts.

I also got a training log from RW in the mail today (my free gift for renewing my subscription), so with both the training log and schedule, I will be very organized, if not a down right lean, mean, running machine.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Banana-Rama

I have a problem with bananas that have brown spots. It icks me out and I can't eat them. In fact, there's something about bananas in general that kind of ick me out. For one thing, I think they have the strangest texture for a fruit. Most fruit have watery qualities to them and are often juicy in some sense, but not the banana. I think it might actually be part foam or packing peanut.

It's this odd texture that leads to the weird way it gums up in your mouth while chewing, almost like peanut butter how it sticks to the roof of your mouth and to your gums. I can't stand to watch another person eat a banana, and I hate to see it smacking around in their mouth -- it triggers my vommit reflex.

However, it's not just the texture and the gooed up way it breaks down while chewing that bothers me about bananas; no, I ultimately feel ambiguous about the smell. Sometimes I like the smell of bananas: They smell sweet and fresh. But other times, the smell of them makes me ill: Then they smell rotten and putrid -- overly sweet. Yet, for all my complaints about bananas I still eat them, fairly regularly. I just had one, as a matter of fact (although, I didn't finish it because there were dreaded brown spots at the bottom). But there are many good things about bananas that keep me coming back to them.

They are obviously high in potassium, and that's something many runners need -- that's why races always provide bananas at the end. Along with sodium and water, your body uses up potassium when sweating, and needs to be replaced. So if you run everyday, you should follow up a run with a banana and a tall glass of water -- you will feel restored quite quickly. Bananas are also great because they actually count as two servings of fruit, so for those of you who often feel like you cheat out of fruit servings, a banana can help add to your daily intake and it doubles the amount you get.

But what many don't know is that bananas are also very high in vitamin C and B6 (I have no idea what you need B6 for, but it sounds important; however, I can recognize vitamin C and I know that's a useful vitamin). And like other fruit, they're high in fiber -- we all know what that's good for. And lastly, this creamy little fruit is only about 100 calories, so you can burn it off with just a mile's run.

In the end, you see, the good things far outweigh the aspects I dislike, so I keep on choking them down, and I try to look at the positive side: they wear their own cute yellow jacket, so each banana is kind of stylish. You can't go wrong with stylish fruit.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wedding Pictures

Only a fraction of our wedding pictures are in, but I'm so excited about sharing them that I just have to post one, so here it is: Ta-da!

I hope your rightfully impressed.

This is one of the few I have right now that is just of me (new husband would like to remain anonymous and would not like to see his picture posted here) and it was taken moments before the actual ceremony. We just got these pictures and some others from the reception back today, and I've been excitedly thumbing through them. The formal shots with the parents and so forth won't arrive for another few weeks, but these have been enough to keep me busy.

After sorting those photos from the wedding, I spent the rest of the day organizing albums of pictures from our honeymoon, and actually managed to fill one album and half of another. But it took a long time since I was printing some from home and organizing others that we took with disposable cameras; I have the feeling that between wedding and honeymoon pictures, we will fill many albums and several picture frames. But it's so much fun!

So, no running for me today -- too busy with pictures. But I worked out hard yesterday (had another nose-pick sighting, but this one was more discreet; you know, the type of pick disguised as a scratch). Today is my day of rest anyway. The running will resume tomorrow as well as the picture sorting: As soon as I have more to share, I will post them.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Cardio

Shopping has got to count for some kind of exercise -- all that walking and hauling bags around the mall and out to your car (and I never remember where I park, so I usually do some extra walking). I went shopping this morning for the last of the Christmas stuff, but still didn't manage to finish. But the end is in sight, and I only have a few things left for my husband (feels as though I'm pretending using that word, but I'm not, because I'm married now!) and I know what I'm going to get him, I just didn't have the energy left to go to the necessary stores today.

Shopping wears me out, but I love the holidays. I love wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music and setting up the tree: It really is the most wonderful time of year! And I love, love, love watching "Christmas Vacation" -- "Little knot here" and "A Christmas Story" -- "You'll shoot your eye out!" and "Love, Actually" -- no quotable lines, but I can't get enough of Hugh Grant dancing and singing!

Of course, it is also the time of year to eat two cupcakes at work and to feel entitled to more than one soda a day and to help yourself to the new bag of chips -- it's all in the spirit of excess. Oh well, I love it! I bought the yummiest ingredients for holiday cupcakes, and I'm going to bake them next week for our Christmas party -- there will be little tree sprinkles and everything! Yippie!

(I notice I have excessively used the exclamation point here. However, I must defend the punctuation because it's the holidays, and like I said, it's a time for excess. And if you want an extra laugh about exclamation points, buy "Seinfeld" season five: Watch the episode where Elaine dumps her boyfriend over his reluctance to use an exclamation point.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Brick by Brick

I wanted to find a quote that I know exists to help illustrate my point today, but I have just wasted the past half an hour looking for it. It's something along the lines of how Rome wasn't built in a day, and that it would need to be built brick by brick. I want to say that it's a Caesar who says it, but I have searched the Internet far and wide and I can get a couple of quotes that are close, but they aren't what I'm looking for. Does anyone have an idea of what I'm talking about? (I actually think the quote is used in "Seabiscuit"; maybe I'll have to go home and watch that to find the full quote.) Anyway, if you're better at finding quotes and you can find what I'm searching for, let me know.

Otherwise, I guess I'll write this entry without my brilliantly used quote -- dammit, it was going to make me look smart too.

Oh well. So my point: I've been feeling frustrated with my running because my progress is so slow and sometimes I feel as though I'm not making any headway at all. But yesterday I read an article in "Runner's World" that helped me feel better. The article was a typical RW story about someone who overcame an obstacle to run (they love those stories, and I suppose they are inspiring, but inspirational stuff sometimes makes me want to vommit -- too sentimental, Halmark-y). The redeeming quality about the story though was the guy who was the focus and who was interviewed. He said, "Our society has become so quick-fix oriented that nobody wants to work over a long period of time for one goal. They want it now." And he goes on to contribute his success to "determination and time."

Those comments changed my attitude. Running is hard work and to improve is going to take time. Even though I've been running consistently for the past six months doesn't mean that I should have achieved perhaps the unreasonable goals I thought I would. What I have to do is think about how far I've come and keep working to consistently improve. It's true what this runner says: You have to work over a long period of time, and it is a lot of work. However, I think that's why running is so appealing to many people because this kind of work ultimately has a massive payoff. Anything that you have strived toward for a long time feels good when you finally reach your goal, and as we all know, the only things worth having are those that we've worked hard for. Those that achieve success easily are unappreciative of what they gain (and according to my mother, they are called spoiled brats).

Thus, my missing quote about building brick by brick. It seems like a simple and obvious answer to how we build, but it is also very wise. Everything is built out of small accomplishments, small pieces that add up. Eventually you get the Parthenon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Two Things

Yesterday when I was at the gym, I saw two things of note. One, I saw a guy pick his nose and wipe it on his shorts! He was on a treadmill in the front row, and I saw him digging around in there mining for gold when he found a nugget, and then he examined it and then wiped it on his shorts. Now, I'm sypathetic to nose pickers because I have been known to dig in there as well, but I know enough not to plow through there in public. My goodness, man!

The second thing that was of note was another guy on a treadmill in the front row. Has anyone ever seen that episode of "Friends" where Rachel and Phoebe go running and Phoebe runs like a cross between "Kermit the Frog and the 6 Million Dollar Man"? Well, that's exactly how this guy was running: Arms waving over his head and off to the sides (the woman next to him ducking and bobbing, trying to avoid a fist in the eye), and his legs were all over. I think he was doing some sort of stretching, I'm not sure, but it went on for about ten minutes. Then he finished and got off the treadmill. I don't know where he went after that.

Maybe he needed to pick his nose too.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A World of Tug Boats

An article I read last night in "Time" reconfirmed my findings on the cruise: It's not just Americans who are struggling with obesity. True, Americans are becoming super-sized at an alarming rate, and that's why the FDA recently placed so much emphasis on the new food pyramid (or hexagon, really) and added daily exercise to it. However, I guess the rest of the world is struggling with the issue as well. It's not yet to the point where its scaring the bejesus out of everyone like AIDS or the Avian Flu, but obesity could fast become one of the number one health risks in the world!

And here I thought all this time that the problems of the world were really in the realm of not enough food (flip back a few issues in "Time" and the cover story was about poverty and famine), but it looks as though that's not the entire predicament.

I guess I personally will keep on running and I suppose I don't need a bowl of ice cream before bed (it's reduced fat though), but what can be done on a larger scale?

Monday, December 05, 2005

How to eat too much on a cruise

Food is one of the main focuses on a cruise and from my observations, some people are there just for that. You may envision a typical buffet with overcooked beef boiling away in the glare of a heat lamp, but the cruise food was far different from that. First of all, yes, there was the typical buffets with the trays of food cooking under super powered bulbs, but there was oh so much more. There was the 24 hour pizzeria, there was the grill (hamburgers, fries, hot dogs), there was the NY deli (excellent pastrami on rye), there was also a sushi place (ate many salmon skin rolls), an "Asian" stop (I say Asian in quotes because they changed menus everyday as well as themes, so it was sometimes Chinese, sometimes Japanese, one day Vietnamese), there is a coffee house, a supper club, and then the main dining room. We only had dinner in the main dining room, but that's all we needed -- five courses every night is more than any normal person needs. Plus, there is complimentary room service, so I ordered a BLT one night. It was delicious!

At first, I tried to restrain myself because it seemed a bit contradictory to stuff myself and then go and lay by the pool in my bikini (and order beers out there as well), but after looking around at my fellow passengers, I decided to let my inhibitions go. This is what I can tell you: There are a lot of fat people out there. At first I thought they were mostly tubby Americans, but after a closer look, I discovered that this wasn't entirely true. The passengers were very diverse, and while Americans certainly dominated the population, there were also a lot of Canucks, French, and Hispanic people, and the fatness knew no boundary (who says French women don't get fat? that's a lie!).

True, there were a handful of skinny-minnys, but I slowly realized I wasn't in Florida anymore, and it was apparent that most of those bodies were the natural work of God, so they were flawed, and I felt much better about my little pouch. This allowed me to get in line at the midnight buffet and get plated up without a guilty conscience. And I thought for sure that I had gained a pound or two from all the eating, but this morning I stepped on the scale to see the damage, and miraculously I found that I hadn't gained a pound! Someone must be looking out for me, an angel of some sort.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'm Back!!

Where do I begin? I feel as though it has been so long since my last entry, and I know everyone out there is waiting anxiously to hear from me, so I might as well start back where I left off last -- with the wedding.

On the whole, it was a wonderful day. However, my life is not without its glitches. That's what makes me so fascinating.

So, like I said, the day started off perfectly. I got my nails done, hair done, make up done (I turned out to be very pretty); I got dressed, the groom got dressed, we were shuttled off, pictures went smoothly, right on schedule, and we were even done ten minutes before we were prepared to board the yacht reserved for our wedding. But wait, the boat wasn't where it was supposed to be docked. We figured, no big deal, we were early, it had to be on its way.

When the boat wasn't there at a quarter after the hour, I gave them a call from my cell. "Five minutes," they told me. Five minutes passed. Then ten, fifteen, twenty. Not good. My husband-to-be's cell phone rang. They told him they were experiencing "technical difficulty" and that they would have it fixed within minutes and they would pull up to the dock shortly. Minutes passed. Then some more minutes. We began to pace. I thoughtI might cry. The groom looked angry. Not good feelings for a wedding day. More minutes passed.

Finally, after an hour of waiting by the dock (with all of our guests waiting there as well), the managers of the boat arrived and informed us that the problems were not emminently fixable and they were asking us to walk half a mile to where the boat was docked and they could perform the ceremony and then have us on our way. "Fine," we said. Some walked the distance; others were shuttled there. We had the ceremony. I cried. We were married. The drinks poured freely, the dancing began, the boat didn't leave dock, dinner was served, the boat didn't leave dock, dancing continued, the boat never budged, we drank some more, we never left the dock. All night, we celebrated on our yacht docked in the river. We never cruised.

We expect a partial refund. It is under dispute.

But we decided to think about that crap later and we took off on our honeymoon and had a glorious time. We took a cruise through the western Caribbean, and we stopped in the Cayman Islands, Island Roatan in Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. A quick summary: Cayman Islands have beautiful beaches that are postcard quality. Sugar sand beaches, crystal blue water, clear, blue skies. I didn't want to get up off the beach -- gorgeous! Island Roatan is also beautiful but in a rougher sense. The people are obviously living in poverty, and those kids who were trying to sell me trinkets should have been in school, but it didn't stop me from bargaining with them over the price of the trinkets. Some shop owners I bargained with, some I didn't -- I figure they need the money more than I do. Belize was also beautiful, and very interesting as well; learned a lot about it. We went on a river rafting/hike through the rainforest excursion that was fucking fabulous! But I learned that flip-flops are not appropriate footwear for hiking through the jungle. Will re-think that decision next time I'm there. Was very hard gripping onto those fuckers while I crossed a fairly fast-moving river. And lastly, we stopped in Costa Maya Mexico, which was also awesome! We went on a tour of some Mayan ruins that are close to the Belizean border and that was amazing to see. I did some extra thinking on that excursion and smartly wore sneakers -- very approprate for climbing around the ruins.

The days we were at sea were also really fun, but mostly they were just relaxing. We laid out in the sun and baked ourselves good and leathery while we drank buckets of overly priced beer by the pool. It was perfect. I did manage to go running two days while at sea (the boat has a great gym and an outdoor track), but then I got so relaxed that I figured buffets were more enjoyable than running, so I said "fuck it" and I'll resume my schedule this week, even though the Christmas season is now upon us and running regularly won't be any easier for the next three or four weeks.

I have many more stories, but I have typed my little fingers to death, so I will bid you all "adieux," and I will post again tomorrow. I missed you all! Talk to you later!