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Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Resolutions

Despite the fact that my 2007 goals didn't quite pan out like I expected them too (see two posts below -- "The Value of Failing"), I still look forward to making new goals for 2008. So, here are the much anticipated 2008 running resolutions:
  1. Achieve some race variety. I would like 2008's race calendar to reflect a variety of distances and races. I haven't finished planning the race year (and much of it will probably be planned as the year progresses), but I would like to not only complete the races I have planned through April, but I'd like to do a 10K (a race I've never done before -- it's hard to find them, they're a disappearing species), a 10 miler, and maybe another 15K or something.
  2. Set a new 5K PR, dangit.
  3. Focus on what Runner26 referred to as the 3 S's: speed, strength, and stretching. I often neglect both the strength training and the stretching, and this neglect is what lead, I believe, directly to the IT pain I suffered in both legs throughout 2007. Plus, I'd like to see some improvement on my speed. That means I have to actually consciously focus on it, instead of just wishing for it.
  4. Enjoy the running. I have to remind myself of this from time to time. I run to relieve stress and to feel good, strong, and healthy -- and sometimes I lose sight of everything that running provides for me, so I'd like to keep that in mind in the forthcoming year. I may give a lot to running, but it more than returns the favor.

But, I also have some resolutions that are not running related, but are, I think, related to my general health. Running helps keep me in pretty good shape, but it's not the only thing I can do to take good care of myself. Thus, a few resolutions to help me keep my overall health care in mind:

  1. I'm giving up soda. Yes, you heard me right. I, Jess, am giving up my precious Diet Pepsi. I have one can left in the fridge (I purposely bought enough to bring me right up to New Year's Eve), which is for today, and then no more. I've decided that while it is delicious, the aspartame, the phosphoric acid, the carbonation, and the artificial flavors and additives just can't be good for me. So, I'm going to eliminate it. This is gonna be hard...
  2. I'm going to resume taking a multi-vitamin every day. Vitamins and I have tumultuous relationship -- I like to take them as a sort of "insurance" for my nutritional benefit, but I hate swallowing the dang thing ever single day, so off and on for years I have see-sawed back and forth with taking them and not taking them. I figure in 2008, vitamins and I are back on.
  3. I'm going to floss every day. Seems simple, right? But, I hate flossing and therefore do it about 6 times a year. No matter how many times the dental hygienist scolds me for not doing it, I just hate it. But I know it is vital for my dental health. So, bring on the floss!
  4. I need to make a few doctor appointments. I haven't had a general check-up in almost 2 years, and I haven't been to the eye doctor in 5 years (but, I do go regularly to the dentist -- every 6 months -- I'm good about that one). Oopsie. Time to do both.
  5. Eat better. Because I run, I often figure I can eat whatever and however much I want, but it's just not true. I need to eat more of what's good for me -- whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean protein -- and less of what's not -- extra fats, sweets, and refined carbs. Two months ago, I decided to cut fast food altogether (and by "fast food" I mean McDonald's, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Burger King, etc, but I do still eat at places like Panera and Chiptole, which my husband labels as "fast food" but I think they are in a different category), and I want to keep that up. That food is just toxic and I want to avoid it to the best of my ability.

So, that's it, health-wise, for 2008. Like all resolutions, I think of them as "guidelines" -- terms that are flexible and forgivable but that are intended to motivate me to being a better person and taking better care of myself. I think they're all achievable, so I'm looking forward to a healthier me in 2008!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Twilight Ten

Because I had the 5K yesterday, I bumped my week's long run to today, and because I like to sleep in, I'd bumped its time to this evening. The 10 miler went pretty smoothly:

1: 9:29
2: 9:38
3: 9:51
4: 9:55
5: 11:16 (walked while I took half my GU and drank half my water)
6: 10:34
7: 10:38
8: 11:59 (walked again while polishing off the GU and the water)
9: 10:54
10: 10:56

Total Time: 1:45:21

The second half was certainly slower than the first half, so I could've paced myself a little better, but overall, it was a good, relaxed run by myself. When I got home, I did some slow stretching and foam rollering and now my legs are feeling pretty good.

Hubby made a delicious smelling dinner, so I think I'll sit down to that and spend the rest of the evening chillin. Hope everyone had a good Sunday!

The Value in Failing

I didn't really mean to indicate in my race report yesterday that I thought that time was bad. I was just a bit disappointed because this 5K was the last one of the year where I had the opportunity to try and break my PR of 28:28, and at the Turkey Trot a month ago, I missed that by 5 seconds -- this 5K, I missed it by a wide berth of a whole minute and some change. That's the only reason I was grumpy about the time.

Breaking that PR has been important to me because it was the last chance of the year to actually realize one of my running goals for the year, but now I know that the year will expire and all of my goals I set for the year will be left unfinished.

Last year, after I completed the Disney marathon, I made my year's running resolutions:
  • Complete another marathon
  • Complete a half marathon
  • Break my 5K PR
  • Run a race distance I never have before

Simple goals, right? Well, let's see what happened to them all:

  • Trained for Chicago, but only completed 8 miles of the race before bowing out due to heat exhaustion. Thus, I did not complete another marathon. I trained for it. Ran it. Did not finish it.
  • Trained for the A1A Half last year but training after Disney was plagued by IT pain that I kept ignoring. Race day? I was hurting so bad 2 miles in, that I walked off the course in tears because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish. That was the only half marathon opportunity I created for myself, so I did not complete a half marathon.
  • I only ran 4 5Ks this year: Corporate Run in March when I was still suffering from IT pain (this was the last race before I decided to take all of April off to really rest and attend to the IT), 4th of July 5K where it was a bazillion degrees out, the Turkey Trot, and the one I did yesterday. Never beat that 28:28.
  • Lastly, for all the running I did in 2007, it was mostly focused on Chicago, which consumed most of my running time and energy, and I never did accomplish a race distance that I'd never done before.

Therefore, in many ways, 2007 was a failure in terms of reaching and achieving my goals. I'm disappointed in this, but I also think failure is important. It can teach us humility, resilience, and mental/emotional flexibility -- all immeasurable things that are important to a runner, and to a person, nonetheless. So, even though 2007's running goals weren't a success, I tried my best. That's all I can ask of myself.

And now, I get to look forward to 2008 and set some new goals! Stay tuned for those.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Resolution 5K Race Report

Well, it was one of my slower 5Ks this morning, homies, and I can't pinpoint exacty why. True, the beginning was crowded and the road narrow, but my first mile was my fastest mile. And true, it was a warm morning, but isn't every day warm here in South Florida? No, I don't think there's any particular reason why I was a bit slow out there, and in general, I guess I just didn't push myself very hard (especially in miles 2 and 3). But, it's okay. Slow happens.

Mile 1: 9:15
Mile 2: 9:34
Mile 3: 9:54
Mile .1: 0:54

Total Time: 29:38

Friday, December 28, 2007

Additional Upcoming Races

In the back of my mind, I've been considering the ING Miami Half just as long as I've had my eye on A1A in February, but I haven't committed to it and haven't really brought it up. But despite the fact that it is only 4 weeks away and only gives me another 3 weeks afterward until A1A, I have four-fold reasons for wanting to do it.
  • For one, it's supposed to be a nice course. I like nice courses. And because this is South Florida, that also means it's a flat course. I like flat courses.
  • It's close. Miami is about an hour's drive for me (sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on traffic) so it seems like a shame to pass up an opportunity to run something that is nearby.
  • After March, the race calendar gets pretty sparse in Florida, so I feel as though I should take advantage of the races while they're available.
  • I can do it. I know I can, so why not?

Thus? I'm signing up! So, I am henceforth thinking of January and February as a double-header: 2 half marathons in 2 months! Yippie!

But, not to be forgotten, I also committed to Nancy's 9 on the 9th in January, and hopefully others out in blogland will be joining me "virtually" for that race!**

** Correction: Thanks to Marathoner in Training who corrected me on the 9 on the 9th. I thought it was January, but it's really February. I'm still signed up for the event -- I just would've been about a month ahead of you guys (could've made me the winner by default, right?)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Idiocy is...

...making the same errors over and over and failing to learn from previous mistakes; thus, I believe myself to be an idiot.

You may recall that last week, mid week, I made the mistake of running 5 miles at 3 pm and feeling absolutely awful because of the afternoon heat. Well...

Today, the particulars were slightly different -- 3 miles, not 5; 4 pm, not 3 pm -- yet the same feeling of exhaustion under the afternoon's sun after two miles and I felt spent. I walked some in the 3rd mile and still finished the 3 under 30 minutes, but I really need to learn to be patient and wait for dusk.

1: 9:21
2: 9:31
3: 10:44

Total Time: 29:36

Maybe a few more runs where I feel so hot my head will catch on fire and then I'll learn, and I can graduate from "idiot" to "moron."

Boxing Day's 5

My 5 miles yesterday were like buttah:

1: 9:38
2: 9:38
3: 9:47
4: 9:52
5: 9:46

Total Time:48:43

I got to run with a new pair of shorts and a new visor I got for Christmas, both by Brooks, and they were super-duper comfy.

This evening, I have a 3 miler on the schedule, and in between, I have to get started with some work for school -- prepping for next term. The last two nights I've had nightmares about being unprepared, so I'd best get some stuff done so my sleep is a little more restful!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Hodge-Podge Post

So, I don't think this post will have much cohesion, so bear with me as I haphazardly jump from topic to topic. First up? A few Christmas pictures.

Scooter with some of his Christmas loot: The audience demanded pic of the new Coach purse:
Yes, Christmas was fun. We opened gifts, spent most of the morning on the phone with relatives, then spent the afternoon at a friend's house where we played games, drank a few beers, and had a splendiferous crab dinner (I love crab -- it's dinner and a project in one, very entertaining and tasty). Today, the hubby returned to work and I set to some chores:
  • returned a few gifts
  • laundry
  • grocery store
  • bank
  • return movies
  • wrote "thank you" notes for Christmas gifts
  • picked up the house
  • watered plants
  • officially registered for both the A1A half marathon and the 5K I have this Saturday
  • balanced checkbook

I also got to sit down for a bit this afternoon and read one of my new books. I finished "Atonement" last week (very, very good -- now I want see the movie) and I finished "No Country for Old Men"by Cormac McCarthy on Christmas (I think it is no exaggeration to label McCarthy one of the best living American writers, and this book, like his others, was awesome -- but it is violent, so it may not be suitable for all audiences -- I now also want to see this movie adaptation). So, what books did I get for Christmas that were in my pile to choose from?

I got "The Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold; I read her book "Lucky" (her personal account of being raped when she was in college), but I've never read her fiction before and this is her new novel. I got "Rhett Butler's People" by Donald McCaig; I am a huge "Gone with the Wind" fan and this take on Rhett Butler's story got good reviews, so I'm intrigued. I also got "The Quiet Girl" by Peter Hoag (author of "Smila's Sense of Snow), and I got the book that is now my current read: "The Sharper the Knife, The Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flinn. It's about her time learning to cook at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and I read about 50 pages this afternoon and I can tell already that's it's great. I love reading about food, restaurants and cooking, and so far it's a good addition to that genre. I would recommend it if you liked "Julie and Julia" or "Eat, Pray, Love."

Still left on my "to do" list for the day? Run my scheduled 5 miles, but I'll do that in about 2 hours, when it's a bit cooler out.

Happy day after Christmas everyone! I hope the return lines were short and the exchanges smooth!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Now, I know that Christmas is supposed to be about love, family, sharing time together, and all that other bologna, but I gots to say, this year? Santa was good to me, folks -- I gots loads of loot!

My husband and I got a Garmin GPS system for the car, we got new pots and pans (very much needed), and we got money and gift cards.

But those are presents I have to share. What did I get all to myself?

I got a stack of new books (yippie!), I got new running shorts, a new running visor, and an LED light bracelet for running in the dark (it really freaks my hubby out that I may get run down while running in the early morning), but the best present of all? A new Coach purse!! Ah, Santa, he knows my love of Coach well. It's a beautiful bag -- it's a suede sable brown with dark brown handles and buckle. I love it, and it was a complete surprise, which makes me love it all the more!

My husband also made out like a bandit, and Scooter too (he got lots of new toys and bones, and even a new collar and leash), so it was a glorious Christmas morn in our household.

For the rest of the day, I shall pose in front of the mirror with my new purse, and then I suppose I'll take a break from admiring it to go play with our friends. I hope everyone else is enjoying a wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Eve 3

This afternoon, we went to lunch with friends and then spent the afternoon playing games and drinking beer. And despite having about 5 beers, I still went for an evening run after they left around 4:30 pm.

Now, I've never run whilst slightly intoxicated, but I would not recommend it. The run itself was fine, if a bit slow, but the overall feeling was not optimal:

1: 9:37
2: 10:07
3: 9:48

Total Time: 29:33

After I got back from the run, the hubby had prepared a beautiful Christmas Eve meal for the two of us: prime rib, twice baked potatoes and sauteed asparagus, so we ate up and it was delicious! I think we may just be lazy for the rest of the night -- maybe watch a movie or something (TBS begins its annual 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" at 7 pm so we'll probably watch that). And tomorrow? Presents!!

Hope everyone else is enjoying the holiday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Eve Eve

There are many advantages to spending the holidays with family: the love, the joy, the traditions, the drunkeness. But there are also advantages to staying home -- just the two of you -- for the holidays:
  • No travel stress.
  • No crowded house with the heat turned up WAY too high while you roast in your sweater and fight the oncoming headache.
  • No guilt-eating of the holiday cookies and candies that your mother-in-law made. Just. For. You.
  • No decisions about whose family you spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with -- thus, no guilt about shorting someone on time with you.
  • No sleeping on the tiny bed your husband had when he was in high school, and now you, he, and the dog are all jammed in there.
  • No worries that your dog will crap in a strange bathroom and then smear it all over the place because you left him alone in a strange house while you went out for beers to catch up with friends.

Plus:

  • Instead of spending last night at your grandparents' house eating the 7 layer Jell-O, you and your husband spent the evening at a relaxing wine bar where you both sampled lots of wine, ordered a cheese and olive platter, and played two games of chess.
  • You got to spend yesterday afternoon watching "The Simpson's Movie" and episodes of "Deadwood" instead of trapped in the kitchen explaining to your mother that it's your business that you never took your husband's last name.
  • You get to sleep in this morning intead of waking to the pounding of children's running overhead at 7 am.
  • You got to prepare a big breakfast with your husband, in your own kitchen, in temperate FL (with the windows open and a nice breeze), this morning instead of sitting down to a big breakfast in a kitchen 2,000 miles away and freezing temps outside.
  • You get to go to a matinee this afternoon instead of attending yet another gift opening at yet another grandparent's house.

Ahhh, it's so relaxing to stay in FL for the holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

8 Miles, 2 Donuts, and a Latte in a Pear Tree

This morning when I got up at 6 am, it felt fr-fr-freezing out, but realistically, it was probably in the mid-50s. Still, as I drove to meet Wendy, I wore a long sleeved tech shirt, a sweatshirt, and I had the heat on full blast in my car (and part of me thought of donning mittens and a hat). But even though I was chilly to start the run, it was really the perfect temp to run in -- once I got warmed up -- and by the end, I had even shed my tech shirt and was down to the standard two pieces.

Mile 1: 9:41
Mile 2: 9:58
Mile 3: 10:01
Mile 4: 10:47
Mile 5: 9:55
Mile 6: 10:21
Mile 7: 9:52
Mile 8: 9:41

Total Time: 1:20:20

I stopped the Garmin right at the 8 mile mark, but we did run about one more block before stopping completely; I just didn't record it -- thus, my time this morning was about 6 seconds faster than "8 on the 8th" and I was pretty happy with the run. Plus, it was nice to run with Wendy again and the route along A1A is nice, especially first thing in the morning because we can see the sun rise over the ocean.

On my way home, I experienced an odd, intense craving for a donut, which is weird because I haven't had a donut in...I don't know how long. But it just sounded so good, so I pulled into a Dunkin Donuts close to home and picked up a few donuts and a coffee, and the donuts smelled so good that I inhaled one in the car -- the other I ate once I got home and got showered. So, I guess I got my donut fix for the year, and damn, they were delish!

Mileage for the week: 22. And today's the 22nd! And it's my bro's b-day! Co-inky-dink?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Funday Friday!

Today is a day of running rest, which is good because my legs are feeling a little tired from 5 days straight of running and they need their rest for tomorrow's 8 miler with Wendy.

So, I think I'm gonna go run a few errands (I haven't actually driven anywhere since Sunday -- it's been awesome! -- and I figure The Green Hornet will want to get out and stretch its wheels some) and perhaps treat myself to a Starbucks latte. Usually, on Fridays, I buy myself a coffee drink as a treat for "Funday Friday" but since I'm not on my way into work today, I didn't feel like I deserved it, but I'm sitting here sipping my regular brewed coffee and it just doesn't taste "fun."

*Side note* Have you guys ever noticed that when you eat peas, the next day, you poop them out whole? Or is that just me? I swear I chew them, but I also swear they are floating around the toilet in their original shape the next morning: What's up with that? Do they just move through the digestive system unchanged? I'm really puzzled by this.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Frustration

Thanks for the earlier advice, but despite deleting the suggested files and folders, as well as downloading and running both Ad Aware and Spybot, the problem is still there. I swear I spent the majority of the day downloading programs and running scans and searches; each offered a new hope, but then I'd re-boot the computer and the same problem was still in existence. Ugh; I think it's time to pay an expert to come and fix it.

Anyway, I did get my 3 miles in this evening and they were helpful in easing the frustration that the computer brought upon me throughout the course of the day. I waited until early evening (instead of repeating my error from yesterday), and the temps were much cooler. I took it easy on the pace, and just focused on relaxing through the miles. In fact, I think I only glanced down at the Garmin twice during the run and was even surprised when it beeped at the end of the 3 miles.

1: 9:25
2: 9:51
3: 9:46

Total Time: 29:06

Tonight I'm gonna try my best to forget about the computer issues and settle in for some more "Deadwood" (first disc in the second season arrived today -- yippie!). Hopefully, we can get a computer geek out here to have a looksie soon, and until then, I'll just have to deal with the slowness and the pop ups.

The Computer is Officially

Fucked.

So, you may recall that I've been complaining off and on for the last few weeks that our home computer is infected with a virus. If you don't recall, then here's the recap: our home computer is infected with a virus.

Except it's not a virus.

See, what it appears to be is some kind of secret ad ware program that keeps opening pop ups while we're online, and it seems to be drastically slowing the computer. So much so that it can't keep up with my typing (so if you have gotten comments from me and you were wondering: "was Jess drunk when she typed this?" -- well, first check the time stamp, if it was before noon, I blame the computer; if it was evening, I may have been drunk). This problem is really bothering me since I am on break, so the only computer I am currently using is...yeah, the home computer! I have tried everything I can think of to find and remove this bothersome program, but it is a slippery little son of a bitch, and I can't seem to A.) find the wicked program, thus B.) I can't remove it.

I think I may have to pay someone to come out and do it for me. Which sucks. However, if one of you is a super-smart-techy and you have advice, bring it! Here's the basics: McAffee labels it a "Potentially Unwanted Program" called "Adware Zeno" but apparently McAffee can't remove it. I have tried everything I can imagine to find and remove the program, but it is nowhere, not even in "hidden folders," so I am dealing with an invisible enemy. Any advice? Aside from pitching the computer and buying a new one?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It was a Mistake to...

...run my fiver at 3 pm today.

Despite the cooler temps, it's still in the 70s in the afternoon and with the midday sun beating down on me, I was beat part way through the run.

Mile 1: 9:29
Mile 2: 9:20
In mile 3, I knew I had to scale back on pace because I was already feeling hot, tired, and parched.
Mile 3: 10:46
Mile 4: 10:28
After those 2 conservative miles, I was able to recover some and my last mile was slightly improved.
Mile 5: 9:44

Total Time: 49:49

I was SO thirsty when I got done and my fingers were swollen -- so I knew I was dehydrated. Certainly, I should not be running in the afternoon sun, I just don't handle it well, but I should have also taken into account the fact that I have been taking my allergy medication the past few days and that stuff also dehydrates me. Oh well, I still did the 5 miles within 50 minutes, so it wasn't too bad.

But the 3 pm time frame was also a mistake because my 5 mile route takes me right by the high school. So, yeah, me running in my sports bra and shorts right when school is letting out led to some unwanted attention from passing teenagers in their cars and on the sidewalk. Not too smart Jess, not too smart.

Legendary

I did not get up early this morning for my 5, so I'll have to do those miles later today. Mornings just aren't my 'thang.

But, I did want to tell you guys to run, don't walk, to go see the movie "I am Legend." My husband and I went last night, and it far exceeded my expectations. I don't want to give much away about its plot, so I won't go into much detail here, but it is the most intense and most intriguing "zombie" movie I've ever seen, and I'm a fan of zombie movies -- this just has so much more depth, so I really hesitate to call it a zombie movie, or even a horror movie, because it doesn't really feel like either, even though it kinda feels like both. And Will Smith? Pretty dang good. I mean, he was good in "The Pursuit of Happyness" but this is a whole other world of good, considering that for 99% of the movie he's alone.

And if you have a soul, I guarantee you'll shed a tear. Only zombie movie that's ever made me cry. Sheesh, it was just SO good.

Unfortunately, I dreamt about it all night last night. Wasn't the best night of sleep, but it was worth it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things

Now that I have plenty of spare time I get to spend that time doing two of my favorite things: reading and running.

Generally, I would guess that I average reading between 50-60 books a year (although, I'm not entirely sure, but part of me is thinking of actually keeping track in 2008); I read approximately a book a week (sometimes more, sometimes less -- so, like I said, it's an approximation). But, this is officially my 5th day on break and I finished "The Golden Compass" and I read "The Complete Persepolis" and am currently reading "Atonement." The theme of my book selections as of late seems to be books that are currently adapted as movies, but seeing as I haven't seen any of them as movies, they're all new to me.

So, a brief review of them: "The Golden Compass" was good (it was no "Harry Potter," which all young adult fantasy will now and forever be compared to, but was still good). It took me until about halfway through to really get into it, and then the last 150 pages or so were pretty exciting and it ended without a resolution, so I'll probably read the other 2 in the series so I can see what happens. "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi was REALLY good and I highly recommend it. It's a memoir told in comic book form, but I hesitate to all it a graphic novel, since it's not fiction and the illustrations are not really reminiscent of a comic book. It's best compared to Art Spiegelman's "Maus I and II" (which if you haven't read those, they are a must). Lastly, I am reading "Atonement" by Ian McEwan, and I'm not far in it, so I can't make any definitive judgment's yet about the story, but so far, the writing is really rich.

Thus, I spent most of my day in the comfy chair in the living room reading, but this afternoon I also made time for my scheduled 3 miler, and it went well, a little faster than yesterday:

1: 9:14
2: 9:23
3: 9:30

Total Time: 28:09

I would like to have seen more consistency in the miles, but overall, I was pleased with the splits. Tomorrow, I have 5 on the schedule, and I think I may try to get up and do it first thing in the morning, but you guys know how I am with morning runs, and with the cooler temps and no work, it's hard to push myself to get it done early. But we shall see.

Anyway...back to the comfy chair and the awaiting books!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Run Day

I can give myself a little "check" next to my first scheduled training run for A1A: 3 miles.

1: 9:33
2: 9:43
3: 9:32

Total Time: 28:49

Some cool weather blew in last night, and even this afternoon, when I ran, it was only in the mid 60s. It's glorious to have more pleasant temps -- I can turn off the AC, open windows in the house, and it's not too shabby for running either.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back to the Regularly Scheduled Running

I have kept the A1A Half Marathon in mid-February in the back of my mind schedule-wise for the past 6 weeks or so, yet I haven't been "training" particularly for that race. And without a schedule, my running is a bit, well, erratic. Take November, for instance: one week I ran 33 miles and the next? 12 miles. Clearly, Jess needs a schedule for consistency's sake.

So, today I sat down and made myself a training schedule for the next nine weeks preceding the half marathon. The schedule is a combined product of several schedules I've been looking at and my own expertise; thus, I am planning on running 5 days a week with the long run on Saturday (and my long run distance will peak with 13 miles) and my rest days on Friday and Sunday. So, starting tomorrow, I commence that schedule with a 3 miler, and since I have the next 3 weeks off, it should give me the necessary time to re-establish a solid routine.

Even though I have planned for Sunday to be a rest day, I didn't run yesterday, so I felt like I needed to get out and do something today; therefore, I ran 3 miles this evening. I didn't take the Garmin along, so I don't have splits to report, but I can tell you that it went well and felt good.

I can't tell you how reassuring it is to have a running plan; it makes the running feel so much more organized and purposeful. I feel more focused already.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Christmas Meme

I got this holiday appropriate meme from Wes, and I couldn't resist:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bag? Wrapping paper. I love wrapping gifts and always have. As a kid, my parents used to have me wrap just about everything but my own gifts, which kinda sucked because then my stuff was the only stuff under the tree that wasn't wrapped pretty.

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial. I agree that real trees smell good, but I think that's their only good quality -- otherwise, they're expensive, messy, and hard to dispose of.

3. When do you put up your tree? Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take down your tree? New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but not too much of it -- it's so rich!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Ewok village.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My brother Sam.

10. Worst Christmas gift you've ever received? The year I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid, and I got Rainbow Bright instead, I threw a fit. My mother gave me a "talking to" over that one!

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail! It's the one time of year I actually look forward to seeing what's in the mailbox!

12. Favorite Christmas movie? Christmas Vacation.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I try to start early, but every year I'm still at it right up until the day of reckoning.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? I don't really have a favorite and there was never any traditional food in my family. However, I do like any occasion to stuff myself with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc, so I guess they're all my favorite!

16. White or colored lights? White.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.

18. Traveling for Christmas or stay home? Staying home this year. And I'm thankful for that. Even though I know my husband misses his famiy at this time of year, I prefer to have the holiday with just us. Traveling and spending all that time with family gives me a headache.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Most of them.

20. Angel or Star on top of tree? We don't have a tree topper. It's au naturale.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The crowds at the mall.

23. What I love most about Christmas? It feels cozy: the lit tree, the present wrapping, the baking, the movies, the music, there's something about it all that just feels "cozy."

So, you guys know the drill, you can consider yourselves all tagged if you'd like to copy and paste the meme to your own blog -- have fun with it and happy holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2007

All Caught Up

Finish grading and submit term grades. Check.

Throw Christmas party with friends. Check.

Get drunk enough to have fun but not so drunk as to have a hangover. Check.

Pay bills. Check.

Balance checkbook. Check.

Mail presents. Check.

Get relatively close to finishing Christmas shopping. Check.

Run 3 miles. Check.

Have a nice, relaxing dinner and evening of chit-chat with favorite prego friend. Check.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Shmursday

Yes, my holiday luncheon was much more fun yesterday than I had anticipated. I was welcomed at the "cool" table (this description prompted my husband to ask "who's 'cool' amongst English department faculty?" well, me to start with); and we had us some drinks. I stuck to beer, but one colleague had 3 shots of tequila! Lordy, I have lived some wild days in my life, but I don't think I ever got started on the tequila before sundown.

Anyway, over the course of sitting in the restaurant for nearly 3 hours, we bonded. It was awesome, and when I got back to the office, no, I did not grade (I'm not that irresponsible), but I stuck around for awhile and organized some materials and answered some emails, etc -- then I went home. And I have to say, the residual effects of drunk Jess in the afternoon is sleepy Jess in the early evening. So, I struggled to stay awake during "The Bourne Ultimatum" last night, but then I was wide awake for "Project Runway": however, I did not run at all last night, so that was a bust.

This morning I have to finish up my reading and submit my grades (shouldn't take me too long); then, I have a house to clean and food to prepare for this evening's soiree. Goodness, I feel popular this week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So...

my holiday "luncheon" with my department? Yeah, I had me some beers. I'm feeling pretty good and buzzed right now. Som may even call me a bit drunk.

Don't worry, I didn't drive.

But now I need tosit here in my office for a couple of hours to sober up before going home.

Should make reading papers interesitng.

To Do List

What I have on the schedule for the remaining portion of the week:
  • Finish papers and calculate term grades. I'm nearly there, and one more day of grading will probably enable me to finish up. I'm afraid my eyes will bleed or my brain will melt before that happens, but I must press forth and hope for the best.
  • Department holiday party. This should be interesting. It's a "holiday luncheon" -- that we each had to chip in and pay for (you think publicly funded institutions foot the bill for these swank events?) -- at, get this, a buffet. I hate buffets, but I have to be a team player and go. This is the only time of year that I wish I worked for a corrupt, money-hungry corporation that put on a booze-fueled holiday party where someone got up on stage with the band and belted out "Rock Lobster." I think that would rule.
  • Host our friends tomorrow night for our annual Christmas party/Secret Santa exchange. Despite the fact that I have heard grumblings about the day and time, I'm sure that once everyone has the appropriate amount of beer in them, we'll all get along fine and have a jolly time.
  • Attend commencement on Friday.
  • Get some runs in. I started the week of solidly: a run on Monday and a walk in on Tuesday (granted, my husband and I walked to the grocery store to get Dove ice cream bars, but I still count it as exercise), now I just need to keep it up. I'd like about 2 more short runs and then something a little lengthier this weekend to round the week off.

And then I'm free! Body and soul free! Well, with the exception of the running -- I always have that to tend to.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Consistent is as Consistent does

I had a very productive day today, and it was topped off by a solid 3 miler where I managed to pace my miles to near precision:

1: 9:31
2: 9:32
3: 9:30

Total Time: 28:33

Soon, I'll be a well-oiled machine!

Monday Report

No running yesterday. Instead, I did some Christmas shopping, some laundry, some reading, and watched some movies (we watched the 3rd installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and I give it two thumbs down; blah, what was worse than the story was that it was a story that didn't want to die -- it felt like the longest movie of my life).

On a side note, I have had a headache for, I swear, 4 days now. It's a tension headache, I know it, because it's in my neck and shoulders, and while some methods temporarily relieve it (hot bath, aspirin, exercise, massage), it keeps re-appearing. I know it's because I'm under stress with the end of the semester and with the looming holidays, but I hope it's not a brain tumor. That would suck.

Today, I don't actually have any classes, but I have a shizload of papers to read, then I hope to get a short run in this afternoon. Tomorrow are my last two classes and then I just have to work like a busy little beaver to get papers and grades done by Friday. The end is in sight.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

8 on the 8th

The best thing about a virtual race is that there is no pre-set start time. Thus, I took advantage of sleeping in on my Saturday and saved my 8 miles for this evening.

The "race" went well: No line at registration, no crowds at the start line, and I was able to pace myself pretty consistently.

Mile 1: 9:51
Mile 2: 9:46
Mile 3: 10:46 (walked while I took my GU and drank half my water)
Mile 4: 10:14
Mile 5: 10:06
Mile 6: 9:55
Mile 7: 10:02
Mile 8: 9:43

Total Time: 1:20:26

I wanted to finish in 80 minutes or less, but I missed that goal by 26 seconds (maybe I need to learn to take a GU and drink my water while running -- but I don't know if I'll ever be that coordinated). But aside from falling short, just slightly, of my goal time, I can call it a PR (since it's my one and only 8 mile race) and that makes for an excellent race.

Hope everyone else's 8 was grrrrrr8!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Funday Friday

Lately, I can't seem to compose a cohesive post, so stick with me as I once again post several random thoughts together:

I think that if I ever have a child, and that child is a girl, maybe I would name her Stella. I like the name, and I love the beer. Yes, this idea occurred to me last night when I was partaking of a few Stellas, but that makes the idea no less valid, right?

I may strangle a student. Either today or sometime early next week. I'm just saying, it's a possibility. So, if I stop posting for a long period of time, assume I'm in jail.

Our home computer is still afflicted with the "ick" (did any of your childhood fish ever come down with that strange condition? I had two fish go to the big toilet bowl in the sky because of "ick"). We have attempted various vaccines, but so far, the virus is resistant.

Tomorrow is the "8 on the 8th" -- are you guys ready to rock that (virtual) race? I know I am. I think I may blow away those in my age group. Kidding. Marcy and Wendy and MPA are all in my age group, and I believe any one of them could kick my ass in this race. But, 4th in my AG still sounds good. I just won't tell friends and family that there were only 4 in my age group (actually, there may be more, but I don't have time to compile them).

And lastly, two funny student observations:

1. I was walking by a small group of students who were standing outside chatting, and I overheard this: "Dude, after I finish my finals on Monday next week, I'm gonna smoke a big, fat joint!" Me too, dude, me too :)

2. At the end of the semester, our whole department meets to read the prep students' final exams (it's a state exam they have to pass in order to enter into regular freshman composition); it's a tedious process and it takes hours of reading. And these are prep students, so much of their grammar/spelling skills are on par with most 8th graders...anyway, yesterday I read an essay that had the funniest line and every time I think of it, I chuckle to myself. It said: "The only thing I like better than my sports, are my women." Does that not slay you?

Anyway, have a happy Friday everyone, and good luck to those running the 8 tomorrow. I'm looking forward to your race reports!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

3 instead of 5

What I mean by temps dropping "significantly" is that instead of temps being in the 80s for my run this evening, they were hovering around 68, and this morning it was 50 when I went to work. That's much cooler, and it's real nice.

So, I didn't do 5 or 6 miles this evening; in fact, I struggled to even motivate myself to go (I really, really wanted to just lay on the couch all night and continue watching "Deadwood," which BTW is awesome -- very grown up material -- but best series since "Weeds" and whole hella better than "Rome"). But, eventually, I pried myself from the comfy clutches of the couch, and I did 3 miles.

1: 10:01
2: 10:02
3: 10:18

Total Time: 30:22

Motivation has been like a roller coaster companion for me the last few weeks; I'm hoping that the break I have between semesters will be the cure I need to rediscover consistency. But for now, I'll take what I can make myself do; so now, if you don't mind, I think I'll return to the couch for a night cap of "Project Runway."

Peace out.

Boring Happens

Yesterday evening, I got in a quick 2 miles with Scooter, which was fun, and when I got back I did some ab work and push ups while I watched "Seinfeld" -- I tell ya, one of the best ways to do strength training or stretching at home is with a fav sitcom before me.

Today, I woke to find that temps had dropped significantly, so I'm looking forward to a run this evening with the cooler weather. I'd like to do something a little longer this evening, like 5 or 6 miles, so I'll let ya know how that goes.

I really have nothing else to chat about. Sorry for the boring post.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tidbit Tuesday

So, yeah, our home computer definitely has a virus. I never gave it a flu shot, and now look what happens. Anyway, because the computer is sick, I really can't use it until it gets fixed, so comments on your posts will be limited until the computer is on the mends. Sorry, homies.

I did have a good run last night, and I hope to repeat that feeling on tonight's run as well.

After my run last night, where I probably burned around 300 calories, I ate a Chipotle burrito that has approximately 1,200 calories. Don't worry, my body had it's revenge: Starting at about 10:30 pm and persisting through this morning, I had a terrible case of mud butt. Seriously, I think every piece of food I've digested in the past week, exited through my butt in the past 12 hours, and all I can tell you is that it left my butt feeling stingy. This has tainted my love of Chipotle slightly.

I would not recommend the Sci-Fi series "Tin Man." It's really falling short of expectation, and while we were watching last night, I felt downright bored. But now that I've invested 2 nights of viewing on it, I feel compelled to finish the series.

I have a lot of papers to read this week, and because I have meetings tomorrow and Thursday mornings that cut into my office hours, I have to try and squeeze that reading into a more compressed time period. Thus? I really have to skedaddle. Next Friday can't come fast enough.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Finally:

I had a great run this evening. Just a short 3 miler, but man, it felt great.

I would like to wax poetic about it, but something is fucked up with our computer -- I think it has a virus (damn you, McAffee, you let the defences fail!), so it's best to get on and hop off the Internet as quickly as possible. Perhaps I'll ruminate on this evening's run and blast you with some figurative language about it tomorrow while I can safely type away on the web from my office computer.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sleepy Sunday

Had a few too many cocktails last night while watching "Ocean's 13" with the hubby and some friends; consequently, today has been one of the laziest days on recent record. I spent most of the day doing one of three things: sleeping, reading (I'm reading "The Golden Compass" -- yes, Lisa, I decided to check it out for myself; I'll let you know what my final review is -- and so far it's an intriguing, fast-paced tale), or watching tv (watched the movie "Licence to Wed," which I would give a C+ to: it was cute, but I thought its humor and plot were canned and cliche; still, I *heart* Jim from "The Office").

Note, no running listed there.

I have to say, since the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day, the running has pretty much been non-existent, but I hope to remedy that this week by getting more frequent runs in; plus, I have the "8 on the 8th" on Saturday (and so do many of you).

As for the rest of this evening? More of the three activities listed above. We got the first season of "Deadwood" on Netflix, so we're gonna check it out -- does anyone watch that series? -- and then we'll possibly watch the Sci-fi mini-series "Tin Man" (looks interesting, mostly because I like "The Wizard of Oz" and I'm always intrigued by the various recreations of the story, ie, "Wicked," so I want to see how this version compares).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

'Tis (Officially) the Season!

Today, my husband and I spent the afternoon in the holiday spirit -- we baked! We made sugar cookies, chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate-almond candy. While we were merry in the kitchen, we listened to Christmas carols and had ourselves some extra spirits (mmmm, Bailey's is the perfect baking cocktail). So, here's the afternoon:

Me, rolling out the dough for the sugar cookies. Got a little flour on my nose (it is one of the universe's mysteries that the second your fingers are coated in something, your nose will itch). Some of the pretzels dipped in chocolate in the foreground and the hubby in the background. He was the master craftsman behind the chocolate side of things today.
Some of my finished cookies. I discovered that I am not good at piping, so I mostly got sprinkle-happy. The more sugar, the better, right?
Certainly, it is always a bit odd to celebrate this time of year here in Florida, because as we're baking away and listening to "Winter Wonderland," it's in the mid-80s outside and we're both dressed in shorts and t-shirts; however, I guess we've grown used to it because it felt like good old fashioned fun! Happy Dec 1st everyone and enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Much Better

Feeling a lot better (mentally, emotionally) than I have all week. Mostly, because:
A. It's Friday!
B. It's payday!
C. I got a run in!

This afternoon, I got home and did a few household chores (my house elf is a real slacker), and then determined that I was gonna fix my mp3. See, what I haven't told you is that the good ol' trusty mp3 (I hope that statement is dripping with sarcasm) took a poop again, so for the last two weeks, all I have been able to listen to is the same 10 songs over and over. And actually, I don't think it's the mp3's fault -- it's really Rhapsody and Real Player's fault, so I dialed the familiar tech support number and spent a solid hour on the phone with Sahrish is India. Finally, Sahrish and I were able to re-format the player (yet again), update the Real Player software (yet again), and re-download my songs to the mp3 (yet again).

Yay!

So I had my tunes back for the run. Plus, as I was lacing up, Scooter was giving me the look-at-me-I-have-cute-brown-eyes-and-would-like-to-go-run-with-you-stare so I said, "what the heck," and I leashed him up. Running with Scooter is erratic, but it's fun. He loves to run and the joy he gets is obvious -- tail wagging, ears flopping in the breeze, tongue hanging from the side of his mouth -- and seeing his excitement always helps restore my own love and excitement for running.

Scooter can't hold out for real far (his method is simple: sprint for as long as possible and when you tire, pretend that you need to sniff something), so we only went 2 miles, but it was what I needed: the return of my mp3 and my Scoot d-o-double-g!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Answers and Confessions

First, an answer for those of you baffled by the grocery store scale: Yes, the grocery chain I frequent, Publix (which services Southern States including FL), has a scale in the front of every store. It's up by the carts and the vending machines. It's a great big scale you step onto and see what you weigh before setting about buying food -- it's a weird juxtaposition, I know, but I am drawn to that scale every time I go to the store. I must see what I weigh.

I'm not the only one though. I see other shoppers doing the exact same thing.

Secondly, a confession: I haven't run since Monday, and that was only 3 miles. I have to be honest here -- I'm just not feelin' it this week. In fact, in general, I've felt outta sorts this week: cranky, moody, stressed and tired. The reasons for this are as follows:
  • End of the semester. Students always complain about the amount of work they do at the end of a term, and I sympathize, I do (I vividly remember being a college student), but every time they write ONE paper, I read about ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY papers. So the next two weeks are a mountain of hell.
  • Holidays. Getting the shopping done, mailing gifts, sending cards, spending the extra dough; it's stressful, yo.
  • PMS. 'nuff said.
  • Money. December really strains the wallet; sure, there's the gift buying, but that's not all -- at the end of the month (technically, Jan 1st) some big bills come due: car insurance, property taxes, association fees (f*%^'n association raised our fees too -- bastards), plus all the other regular bills. Thinking about all this money stresses me out.

So, yeah, this stuff combined has me feeling...*meh* the last few days and is part of the reason I haven't gone running (even though, yes, I understand that running would help alleviate stress). The good news is that it will all pass, and I know this. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll get a run in (it's also pay day tomorrow too, so I might feel better then).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Highs and Lows

The Good: Left work a little early this afternoon.

The Bad: In order to clean the house. The guest toilet was getting, rather, um, moldy.

The Good: I turned on the Christmas music while I cleaned, and while mopping the kitchen floor is never my idea of a good time, it is an experience that is improved with "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree."

The Bad: After cleaning the house, I went to the grocery store. Blech. I hate grocery shopping, and it always makes me hate other people -- like the guy who cut in front of me at the deli counter or the lady in the parking lot who sat for FOREVER to wait for a parking space (I went around her, parked, and was in the store while she was still waiting for that damn space -- some people are mental).

The Good: I weighed myself at the grocery store (I know, it's a sick thing to do, but I can't restrain myself) and I was a pound lighter: 117. Huh. Guess I'm doing well at the "holiday weight loss challenge."

The Bad: I forgot to buy salad dressing and I left my other dressing at our friend's house on Thanksgiving. Dangit.

The Good: Thankfully, balsamic vinaigrette is easy to make when you have both oil and balsamic vinegar. Viola! Salad dressing.

The Bad: It's been raining off and on all evening here, so I didn't get a run in -- me no likey to run in the rain.

The Good: I did 30 minutes of yoga instead and 10 minutes of ab work. Thus, I'm feeling good and stretched out and very ab-y.

The Bad: Still an hour until "Project Runway" comes on -- why such a late hour for these shows?

The Good: I am making myself a cup of chamomile tea, and the smell of the tea, mingling with the scent of the cinnamon candle in the kitchen, combined with the soft Christmas tree lights, combined with the rain outdoors, makes me feel all warm and snugly inside.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope yours was filled with more "good" than "bad."

Continued Contemplation of Cell Phones

Good suggestions concerning the post below; here are some of my responses:
  1. I can't confiscate a student's phone. That's their personal property, and at the college level, I have no authority to take their possession, even if it were only for the duration of the class.
  2. Currently, the college has no behavioral policy regarding cell phone use (although my guess is that we're about a year away from composing one); right now, most instructors treat cell phones under the general "disruptive student" policy the college has which allows an instructor to ask a student who is a disruption to the class to leave and to mark him/her absent.
  3. My syllabus describes cell phone use under my "student conduct" section and essentially I say that it won't be tolerated -- just like rude language or other offensive behavior -- however, I don't have a "consequence" spelled out in my syllabus if they violate this policy (for years, just stating it worked fine -- but also for years, my evil eye and my stopping class to stare at them worked as well, but now? not so much).
  4. I was trying to think of some kind of positive reinforcement that might encourage them to leave their phone alone. My best idea, I think, was to track how many days in a row they could go without anyone using a cell in any capacity -- because anymore, it's really about the texting, not the ringing -- and it would be like jobs where they track a certain number of days without an accident; I could set a goal number of days and if they achieved that, I would reward them with something. Then, if someone was responsible for breaking that pattern and ruining their record, the class would berate that person, and I wouldn't have to. But my husband said I shouldn't reward them for doing something they should already know better not to do. Plus, it would be a lot of work on my end to track that for 6 classes.
  5. In the end, after reading your suggestions, reading some material I researched about the issue (apparently a concern at colleges across the country), and discussing it with my husband, I think the most viable solution is to make cell phone use an absence.
  6. And yes, it's too late in this semester to change a policy so I am looking to rewrite that section of my syllabus for next semester's courses.
  7. It's tiresome to have to spend my energy focusing on etiquette when students should already know what kind of behavior is rude and obnoxious, but I suppose, that's just the way it is. But for those of you who are parents? Please, please, please, reinforce basic manners in your children: they'll be such better adults.

Again, thanks for your input -- you guys had some forceful opinions on the topic! -- and it helps to know that I'm not the only one who finds this behavior unacceptable.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Suggestions Welcome

I need your assistance, peeps. But before you read further, I do not seek running advice for the conundrum below, so if that's what you wanna dispense, you'll have to return another day. No, today I need advice on a teaching issue (that I also think has larger social implications as well, so it may be relevant to the audience at large).

See, as each year and each semester passes, I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated and, to be honest, downright angry about cell phone use during class. To me, it's very rude and disrespectful behavior and even though I know I shouldn't take it personally, I do. Students are so attached to their phones these days (I know, I know, using that very phrase ages me about 50 years) that they are reluctant to abide by my policy to have them shut off and stow away their phones during class. Instead, their phones often ring in class, (and on Monday a girl even got up and left class to answer her phone!), and they receive and send text messages during class (they think I don't see them, but I do).

Now, I've tried a variety of approaches: I "embarrass" them (mostly means that I tell them to put the phone away in front of the class), I have asked students to leave (and thus mark them absent), and I have deducted points from their grade. But nothing really seems to entirely work. Thus, I am seeking creative suggestions to encourage students to not use their phones in ANY capacity during class -- you can offer up a suggestion that has a negative or positive reinforcement, or if you have another creative idea that offers something "outside the box," I am open to those as well.

I'm just getting to the point where I want to have some kind of remote zapper that shocks them every time they touch their phones during class, and that's not a good feeling to have. So, give me your ideas! I need some assistance here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday's Tres Tidbits

Okay, okay, because you guys asked to see it, here's my new purse! Pretty, right? I like the green -- very holiday appropriate, huh? If you were here, I would let you stroke it. It's very soft.So, this evening, I picked up my holiday cards from Walgreens. After making Scooter sit several times in front of the Christmas tree, with no cute resulting pictures, I ended up going with a pic of him chewing on the Santa hat. Part of me wanted to use a pic of all three of us, but there's not a great one in existence (either the lighting is bad, Scooter is only partially in the picture, either my husband or I am making a face, or we're holding beer -- not really what you want to express on a holiday card), and I didn't want to try and force a friend over to our house to take a few dozen new pics of us front of our tree just so I have a pretty card (but I did think of it). Thus, here is the image that will grace the Jess family Christmas card this year:Cute, right? But aside from managing the Christmas card and fondling my new purse, I also got a run in this evening, as promised. Again, like Saturday's run, I felt slooooooow. The numbers aren't too bad, but they do reflect a little ass dragging in my 3 miles:

1: 10:08
2: 10:09
3: 10:15

Total Time: 30:39

I need a good run to revive me: the past week has felt a little *blah* in the running department -- maybe all that energy that I've been devoting to holiday shopping, decorating, baking, and card ordering has zapped the energy usually reserved for running.

Oh well, I'm gonna go hug my purse now.

Best Husband Ever

First of all, thanks for the many anniversary wishes -- they are well appreciated.

We had a nice, quiet day for our anniversary: We mostly hung out around the house and then exchanged our gifts and went out for a nice dinner. My husband bought me a beautiful pair of diamond earings (and he even made sure, before purchasing, that they were "conflict free" diamonds -- after seeing "Blood Diamond" we will both be conscious of this), and while we were waiting for dinner, we strolled through the Coach store where I spied the prettiest green suede purse (I was gonna take pictures of it and show it off, but I don't want any jealousy here). It was 40% off, and my husband bought it for me as an additional anniversary gift! Such a guy, such a guy!

Anyway, on to today...meh. I am not excited to return to work. After 4 days off, I have grown used to being at home, and the idea of returning to work today is no bueno. But I can't complain much, because I only have 3 weeks of the semester left and then I have a 3 week break! Wa-hoo!

And I do plan to run this evening as well. This past week has been a bit sluggish, but there was a holiday and, yeah, I just wasn't feelin' it. But this week, it's back to the grindstone: both with work and running. Another wa-hoo? Okay. Wahoo!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Anniversary

Today is Jerry and I's two year wedding anniversary! Honestly, it's hard to believe it's already been two years -- the time really does go by quickly. Anyway, it's been a great year together, so here are a few highlights, with pictures!
Christmas last Decemeber at my in-laws in MN. Camping last spring in Corbett. We also went camping in the fall in the Keys -- each spot has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.
Key West in July.
Chicago in October. Aside from the race debacle, we had a good trip.
Halloween '07
It's been another wonderful year, and I appreciate being able to spend my life with someone like my Jer-Bear: he's the best! I can't wait to see what the next year will bring, and all the years after that!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Slowest 3 Miler Ever

This afternoon, I set out for a short 3 miler, and boy, did it feel like it. took. for. ever. It may be the pounds of turkey I've consumed in the past few days, it may be the allergy medicine I took this morning, it may be the unseasonable warmth, or it may just be one of those days. Whatever the reason, I got out there, got through it, and that's all I can say. Now I need a nap.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a holiday for gluttony -- lots of food and lots of drink, and I certainly worship at the oven and fridge in relgious fervor of both -- but it's also a holiday that gives us an opportunity to reflect on those people, places, ideas, things that we're grateful for. Yesterday, as we spent our holiday with friends, I was reminded of plenty that I am thankful for.

First of all, I'm thankful for my husband -- he's the kind of guy to wear a t-shirt and camo shorts to a holiday dinner and I love him for it. But more importantly, he's the most supportive person I know: He truly accepts me for who I am, and he provides me with the unique combination of feeling like I can maintain my individual identity while still having the security of couple-hood. Plus, he comes to my races and takes great pics for my blog (see below) -- which leads me to also be thankful for my good health and ability to run and race (again, see the post below).I am also thankful for my fur-baby, Scooter. Yes, he rolled in duck poop yesterday and then later coated himself in turkey grease (he's a delightfully sticky little bastard today), but again, I can't help but love him. And since I'm holding beer in both of these first two pictures, clearly, I am grateful for hopps, barley, and water and the delicious combination that it provides.All that beer made me brave, so I tried out the vocals on Rock Band -- I sang an awful rendition of Radiohead's "Creep" and then made some *slight* improvement with Weezer's "My Name is Jonah" and Garbage's "I Think I'm Paranoid." But I am thankful that the world is constantly inventing new ways to embarass myself and that my friends find me amusing -- even if they are laughing at me, not with me.
Which brings me to my friends. We can be a bit dysfunctional, like any family, but also like any family, there's few other people I'd rather be with on a holiday. I am VERY grateful for this group of people.
And lastly, I am grateful for fun times. I don't know how many of you got to enjoy a full-fledged Rock Band on Thanksgiving, but I did, and it was just one more thing that makes my life so much fun. "Fun" may seem like a silly thing to be thankful for, but it's one of my chief concerns in life -- I like to enjoy all aspects of my existence and have fun whenever possible: running, teaching, traveling, with family, friends, and at home. So, this, this right here? This was fun.
I hope everyone else had a fantastic holiday and enjoyed themselves as much as I did!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Trot 2007

Well, folks, I got close to a PR, but couldn't quite beat my previous best of 28:28. Here are the splits according to my Garmin:

Mile 1: 8:38
Mile 2: 9:27
Mile 3: 9:33
Mile .1: 0:55
Total Time: 28:33

However, there seems to be some timing discrepancy because the race clock also said 28:33 when I crossed the finish line, but the "official" chip time, according to Split Timing, was 28:43. I really don't know how my chip could be slower than the race clock -- especially since the race clock matches my Garmin time. But either way, I didn't PR -- yet, it was close. Very close.

So, on to the report, shall we? Below: Here I am after the race with Scooter (clearly he's more interested in that dirt than he is in posing for a picture). It was about 30 degrees warmer this morning than it has been for the previous two years' trots: In the previous years, the morning temps hovered around 40 degrees -- nice and cool -- but this morning it was 74 at the start, and while I don't want to make excuses for my failure to PR, I do think the temp messed with me some (I had really been hoping for a cooler morning). Standing at the start line, I could feel myself getting a little warm in my t-shirt, so I quickly made an executive decision: take it off and go in the sports bra and shorts. So, I re-pinned my bib and balled up my t-shirt. I'm glad I did this -- I'm way more comfortable in the bra and shorts. Below, I am to the far left of the racing pack. This was the beginning mile of the race, and I was feeling good and speedy. My husband didn't get a great shot because I distracted him by throwing my balled up t-shirt at him (accidentally pegged him in the face).
The race's start time got pushed back 15 minutes because of all the morning's last minute registrations (there ended up being 1400 racers -- this race gets more popular each year), so we didn't start until 7:45 so that means it was pretty warm by the end. But, this is Florida, so I guess I should expect such temps by now -- even on Thanksgiving morning. Below, I am partially concealed by someone who walked in front of my husband right when he was taking the picture, but you can still see me, right? At this point, I'm coming through the last tenth of the race, and my finish time was still a gamble. But I was also pooped here at the end, so I didn't push myself to sprint the last few meters -- perhaps I should have.
In the end, I'm disappointed that I didn't PR -- especially since I came SO close -- but there are other 5Ks out there (lots of them, actually) so I have plenty of opportunities to try for it again. And in the end, today is a day to give thanks, not to dwell on failing to beat a running record by 5 seconds. Besides, it's not a hurt that a few Bud Lights can't remedy. So...bring on the turkey! I'm ready for the holiday to get under way!

Have a great Turkey Day, everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Trot: A Brief Retrospective

Two years ago, Thanksgiving fell the day before my weddding and I was pretty nervous about two things: hosting Thanksgiving for all of our family who were in from out of town for the wedding and, well, getting married. So what does a runner girl do when she's nervous? Run, of course!

I luckily discovered that right outside of our new condo there was a Trot on Thanksgiving morning, so I signed up the day of and ran it. I wasn't too speedy, but I got it done and felt good, which is what I really needed that day. Here is the report from Trot 2005. A year later, I was in the middle of training for the Disney marathon and my running had taken on a new dimension -- still, I was non-chalant about the trot: I figured it would be a good, short training run and I ran 8 miles the night before. Yet, I went out there and earned my 5K PR -- 28:28. Below, is the video of my easy going finish (I'm in the orange shorts and brown t-shirt -- that's Scooter's butt at the very end).

video

Tomorrow, I certainly would like to set a new PR -- as I've explained before I think the cooler weather and the familiar course are the perfect opportunity for such a race, but as I said yesterday, the pressure to do so is surprisingly nerve-wracking. Thus, I've decided to treat it as any trot should be treated: with fun. I'm gonna run that race and have a good time, and if I set a new PR, great. If not, I can't get too upset with myself. I'll let you know how it goes, and until then, enjoy your turkey day preparations!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brief and to the Point

Yesterday: 3 miles

Today: Haven't yet done it, but I plan on another 3 miler.

Keepin' 'em short so that the legs retain some energy for Thursday.

Wednesday: Last day of work for the week and a day of running rest.

Thursday: Turkey Trot's 5K -- my desire, as you all know, is to attempt a PR and I'm getting kind of nervous about that. The pressure! My god, the pressure!

But then, afterwards, PR or no PR, there will be turkey. Oh yes, loads of turkey. And beer. Mmmm, beer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Conversations with Mom

Yesterday I called to talk with my mom for a bit, and with her, it's kinda like conversation roulette; I mean, when I tell people that my mom is "kooky" or "absent-minded" I don't think they truly understand what I'm talking about; thus, a conversation with her (with all its un-expected twists and turns) reveals my point. I thought of recounting it here in summary form, but I think it's best captured in its exact nature so you guys can fully grasp what I am dealing with here:

Me: "What would you like for Christmas, Mom?"

She ponders for a bit.

Her: "Well, one thing I could use is a new pocket knife."

Me: "Okay. What do you need a pocket knife for?"

Her: "Well, you know, sometimes I just need a knife. Like to cut tags off or something. Like the other day I wore a new shirt to work and got all the way there and realized the tags were still on. So a knife could've been helpful."

Me: "You don't have a pair of scissors at work?"

Her: "Well, yeah, but I would've liked the knife all the same. And you know, I used to have one, but the last time we flew, the TSA took mine away."

Me: "Wait, you tried to take a pocket knife on a plane?"

Her: "Well, it was in my purse."

Me: "Mom, you can't have finernail clippers on a plane, let alone a knife."

Her: "I didn't know that."

So, the conversation continued along this hair-brained path until we got to what she was sending me.

Her: "So, I already mailed your gifts and they should be arriving any day. But can you do me a favor?"

Me: "Sure mom, what is it?"

Her: "Well, I can't find my checkbook, and I think maybe I put it in the box with your gifts. So, could you just be sure you check the box and see if it's in there?"

Me: "You maybe mailed your checkbook along with our Christmas presents?"

Her: "Maybe. I can't find it, so I'm thinking maybe I accidentally put it in that box and mailed it. Could you just double check because I can't find it anywhere."

Me: "Yes, I'll look for it when the package arrives. But Mom?"

Her: "Yes?"

Me: "If I find it, I'm writing myself a check out of it to pay for your pocket knife."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas Fev-ah

Even though I did spend some time on the couch yesterday, I also got started on my Christmas shopping, but I didn't do nearly as much as my husband did (he's nearly done with his shopping -- bastard). So, today we decided to wrap a few gifts and watch my all time favorite x-mas movie "Christmas Vacation" (my fav line from that movie? "Don't throw me down Clark." "I'll try not to Aunt Bethany.") And even though my husband was completely opposed to putting up the tree this early -- he usually insists that it can't go up until after Thanksgiving -- the movie and the wrapping must've put him in the appropriate holiday spirit, so we put up our tree!

Here below is Scooter helping my husband out with the lights. Scooter's job is mostly supervisory, but he takes it seriously nonetheless.
When we weren't looking, he crawled under the coffee table to have a little gnaw on the Santa hat.
Here I am deciding the strategic placement of an ornament. A tree must be balanced in its ornaments and I like to ensure that there isn't crowding in some areas and blank spots in others. That's why our tree decorating is a strict division of labor: My husband assembles it and puts on the lights; I add the ornaments. So far, it's a system that works well.
I tried to get a "family shot" of the 3 of us by the tree but it resulted in several failed attempts. Believe it or not, this is the best of the bunch.
Finally, Scooter was tuckered out -- gnawing on the Santa hat, supervising the decoration of the tree, running around with empty wrapping paper tubes -- it's a lot for a little dog on a Sunday. Still, even tired, he wasn't ready to relinquish the Santa hat.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Running Date

This morning, Wendy and I met in Deerfield Beach, by the pier (pictured below), at sunrise. Deerfield is about half way between us. (Although, I think it may be a little closer to me than to her, but because she gets to drive a Porsche, I think it's fair to make her do more of the driving, right?)During the week, we had settled on doing 10 miles together -- for me that was a significant build in miles considering I hadn't done a "long" run since before Chicago and I would have to guess that it's been approximately 8 weeks since I've done anything longer than 6-8 miles -- for Wendy, this is a shorter distance, but since she's "tapering" (I put that in quotes because her taper includes mileage that for many of us would be "peak" miles in training) before Marathon of the Palm Beaches, she was okay with the shorter run.

Unfortunately, I don't have accurate splits to record here because I stopped my Garmin at a light and then, two miles later, realized I hadn't resumed its timer. But, the Garmin tells me that for the miles I do have recorded that the average pace was 10:45 -- this is due in large part because I forced us to take a few walk breaks (at first my tummy was kinda upset after a GU and then I was just plain pooped). I know that this is uber-slow for Wendy, so I do appreciate her patience with me!

But despite the relatively slow pace, the run went by quickly. I guess that's how it is when you have someone to talk to. I mean, I've run with people before -- frequently, actually -- but when you don't know those other runners that well, conversation can sometimes be...well...lagging. But, because I feel like I already know Wendy (despite us never having met in person before this morning), the conversation was much easier. And the time flew by. So, before I knew it, we were back at our cars, at the pier, and we were done.

Before we parted ways, I felt I was obliged to snap some pics -- since the elusive Wendy rarely posts pics of herself, and when she does, we all complain that they're often blurry. So, for your blogging pleasure, below is the non-blurry Wendy (standing by the trunk of her Porsche, BTW, can you tell that I am jealous?).

And here is a pic of the both of us -- post run so we're both sweaty and I have some kind of strange cow-lick going on. Maybe next time, I should remember to whip the camera out before the run.
All in all, it was a good run: cooler temps, good scenery, good company, and it forced me to return to some more significant mileage. Now, I'm home and showered, and after I get me some breakfast, I know that I should go do some Christmas shopping (haven't even begun yet), but a huge part of me also wants to make the couch my home for the day. We'll see which choice wins out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Guess the Cooler Weather Does make a Difference

Mile 1: 9:47
Mile 2: 9:34
Mile 3: 9:35
Mile 4: 9:44

Total Time: 38:42

And for tomorrow? I have a running date for 10 miles!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Cold is Coming; The Cold is Coming!

So, in the paper today, it forecast the weather here in South Florida to get a bitt nippy over the next few days. By tomorrow morning, it could dip into the 40s! And over the weekend, highs are expected to only reach the 50s or 60s. Brrrrr....So how does that affect me?

It means that I'm finally gonna get the running weather I'd hoped to have in Chicago!

Granted, starting out in 40 degrees is a bit too chilly for my taste, but once I'm a few miles in, it will feel awesome. But...I suppose this does mean that I need to dig out a long sleeved shirt, doesn't it? I wonder if I will feel the need to also don a hat and gloves? Huh, we'll have to see. I could potentially over-react to this change in temp.

Oh, that's okay. Maybe I'll also have use of a sweater or a jacket this weekend! Yay. I only get to wear that stuff a handful of times a year!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Day in the Life of Jess

Taking a cue from Marcy, Lisa, and David, I decided to document my day in some pics. So, first up: Me getting ready this morning -- the mirror shot is an homage to Marcy. In the car on the way to work -- got the coffee in one hand, camera in the other. Who needs to steer?
My office at school. Yeah, pretty plain. But I have a reason for that. See, our building is slated to be re-modeled at the beginning of 2008 and we're going to have to move to another building temporarily, so I figure: Why decorate when I'll just need to move all my stuff? I figure, once the building is done, and we're back in our new offices (which are supposed to be double the size) then I'll decorate. For now, it's pretty blah. But, I have a window!
One of the classrooms I teach in. This classroom is in one of the older buildings, so it's pretty low-tech. But it's where the magic takes place: This is where I dazzle my students!
At the end of the day, I went for a run. A storm is blowing in, so it was a bit windy, but that also means that it was cooler out.
I put in a 6 solid miles, and the splits were as follows:

Mile 1: 9:55
Mile 2: 9:56
Mile 3: 10:05
Mile 4: 10:06
Mile 5: 10:14
Mile 6: 10:00

Total Time: 1:00:20 -- 16 seconds slower than my Monday 6er. I blame the breeze.

Now, my belly is full of delicious chicken parmesean, and I am prepared to spend the rest of the evening chillin'. There's the start of a new season of "Project Runway" and I can't wait for the fashion drama!

Hope everyone had a stupendous day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

5 Things

Today is a day of running rest -- so, no running to report. Thus, I thought it was a good opportunity to report my "5 things" that I've been tagged for. But because I think there's little about me that I haven't shared previously, I figure I'll go with the theme of "5" for this list:

1. I am 5 feet tall. Even.

2. I wear a size 5 shoe.

3. I am the oldest of 5 kids.

4. I have danced on tables (or on the bar) in bars in 5 different states: MN, FL, CO, WY, and MT.

5. When I was 5, we lived in Ft Carson, CO (my stepdad was in the Army), and I betrayed the orders of an MP (military police). See, at the intersection by the elementary school, there was an MP who directed traffic and always signaled to us children when it was okay for us to cross the road. One day, on a dare, I crossed against the MP's directions. I was so scared of what she would do to me that I ran all the way home from there. I can still hear her yelling: "You come back here!" I thought my mother would skewer me for that transgression, but thankfully, my parents never found out.

If you haven't been tagged, consider yourself tagged! All you have to do is list five random things about yourself -- you don't have to adhere to the theme of 5.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day Cont'd

Went for my run this evening as promised, and I did 6 miles. The miles felt good, and while it is harder to pull back the shorter hair (see post below), I did wear my visor, and it worked out pretty well (although, I think I had it a little tight because it kinda felt like it was squeezing my skull).

Anyway, here are the splits:

Mile 1: 10:04
Mile 2: 10:00
Mile 3: 9:52
Mile 4: 10:13
Mile 5: 9:55
Mile 6: 9:59

Total Time: 1:00:04

Veteran's Day Vacation

I have the day off today in honor of the holiday, so this morning, I ran a few errands and then went to the salon to get my hair cut and my eyebrows waxed. I've been thinking of getting my hair cut for awhile (a real cut, not just a trim) and this weekend I decided I wanted to go ahead a cut it short again. Despite the fact that my husband told me to think about it for a week (he thinks I act too rashly), I went ahead today and had the stylist chop it off. The picture isn't great (maybe I need to go and put a little make up on, I don't know), but you can see that I had it cut to about chin-length; that means she took off about 6 or 7 inches of hair. It feels a little weird right now, but overall, I like it.

You can probably also see in the pic that the area around my brows is still a little red from the wax, and even though the girl who did them was a "heavy breather," she did a fine job there as well (but I really do hate it when someone is leaning over me breathing on me; I mean, I'm the sort of person who doesn't even like to face my husband in bed because I feel like he's breathing on me -- and it's all hot, and well, I just don't like someone else's breath in my face).

Anyway, for the rest of my day off, I think I'm gonna try to get a little work done, do a little reading (the fun kind) and then go for a run. I wish every weekend were a 3 day weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

R and R

That's what a Sunday is all about, peeps.

I slept in, watched about 3 hours of "Ugly Betty" online (finished the 1st season on DVD -- now I have to catch up with this season), read, took a two hour nap, and then ran my now standard 3 miler, which went just dandy.

RE: your comments on the previous post about winter? This is South Florida, homies, it is never winter here. Currently, the temps are cooler, but that still means that each day the temp reaches a high of about 80, so, yes, I run in shorts and a sports bra pretty much year round. There may be a few cooler days where I start in a t-shirt, maybe a long sleeved shirt for the really "brrrr" days, but otherwise? My running uniform rarely varies.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Takin the Visor out for a Spin

My new visor, Garmy, and I went for 4 miles this morning: All three enjoyed the trip.
Mile 1: 9:55
Mile 2: 10:07
Mile 3: 10:11
Mile 4: 10:12

New Race for the Calendar

Nancy proposed a unique race for the blogosphere: A virtual race for all the RBF! Great idea, right? The details are simple: run 8 miles on the 8th of December, record your time, and post about it as you would post a race report. Unfortunately, there's no system yet for t-shirts or prizes, but if you have an innovative suggestion for either, hop on over to Nancy's blog and give her a suggestion.

But, I'm in! I think it sounds fun, and I'm adding it to my race calendar on the right. Everyone else, who hasn't already committed, you're invited to join us on our virtual race!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Note To Self

Dear Jess:

Just because your household is out of sandwich bags, doesn't mean that it was a smart idea to throw your chips into the same tupperware as your sandwich. What you may have learned in 3rd grade science is now coming back into sharper focus now that you are eating soggy chips, right? Clearly, the chips absorbed the moisture from the sandwich since they were locked together into an air-tight container, and now the chips are inedible by self's standards.

Good job loser. Now you have to eat your sandwich sans chips. And everyone knows that's the crappiest way to eat a sandwich.

Maybe next time you'll remember to buy more sandwich bags in order to avoid errors of this nature.
Yours,
Yourself