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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Goals Reviewed Part 3

Alrighty, the part most of you have been reading for: the running. So, here were my 2010 goals that I set at the beginning of the year for running:

1. Run more miles.

2. Run them faster.

3. Make the half marathon my bitch.

So, how'd I do with the running goals?

#1: Success! In 2009, I ran 437 miles (remember I was pregnant for 8 months of that year), and in 2010, I ran at least 725. I actually ran more than that, but I stopped tracking my mileage in early October because I was feeling so barfy. I was still running, but for some reason the effort it took to record my mileage was just beyond me, so I stopped. But, 725 was the last tally. I was on track to 1,000 miles for the year, but pregnancy once again trumped my efforts.

#2: Mixed bag: success/fail. In many ways, I ran faster than I did in 2009 simply because I spent most of 2009 either pregnant or returning to running post-partum. That was not fast running, so most of the miles I ran in 2010 were faster. I set a new PR for myself in both the 10K and the HM, which is proof that I was a wee bit speedier. However, once preggo again in the fall, that speed completely evaporated. Right now, I have no clue how slow I'm running because I purposely don't wear a Garmin, but I suspect snails could pass me.

#3: Again, I feel as though this is also a mixed bag: success/fail. Obviously, I made that goal as broad and vague as I could, but I suppose I had some grand intentions behind its inception. On the one hand, I did set a new HM PR for myself (2:07 at the Disney Princess HM), and I did run 3 HMs, which is decent for a year's running -- thus, success! But on the other hand, I would have liked to run about 3 more HMs, and had planned to do so this fall and early winter, but, again...pregnancy and puke, puke, puke. Also, I harbor the desire to one day hit and/or break the 2 hour barrier. So that ulterior goal lies somewhere within there -- thus, I feel like this goal remains incomplete.

So, there you go: the year's goals in total! All in all, I think I did well at setting reasonable, attainable goals that all had at least some measurable success. Now, I am, of course, plotting my 2011 goals, which include, obviously, a plan to take over the world!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Goals Revisited Part 2

Moving on in my reflection of 2010 (part 1 is below), I reviewed the goals I set for myself professionally. Here they were:

1. Apply for tenure. As of August, I will have been a full time tenure track professor for 3 years, which means I'm eligible to apply for tenure. The process is somewhat convoluted and slow-moving, so I don't want to aim to actually get tenure in 2010. Tenure affords me many things: Greater job security, a (slightly) larger salary, opportunities to apply for travel funds, and eligibility to be nominated for a plethora of awards and grants that the college offers faculty.

2. Publish another short story.

So, how'd I do?

#1: Success! Turns out, since I teach at a community college, not a 4 year university, this process is very simple. I had assumed it was going to be a long, complicated business (as it is for those who teach at universities), but I discovered that it really just involved signing some papers, and viola! I now have tenure.

#2: Also a success! If you are interested in that sort of thing, you're welcome to go here and have a read. This story's publication actually has kind of a funny back story.

See, the magazine hosted a dialogue contest that began in late summer and closed in the early fall. It was a unique contest for a literary magazine; for one, the perimeters of the contest were rigid: tell a story using ONLY dialogue, you couldn't even use dialogue tags, like "he said." But for another, the editors notified writers of their rejection on a rolling basis, so if your story submission fell out of their top 5 favorites, they'd let you know you were out, and then they gave you another chance to re-submit.

The first story I submitted was initially a top 5 fav, but after a few weeks, it fell out of favor and I was out. I thought to myself, "No way I can come up with another story along these lines." But then, I did. I re-submitted. And I got what I call a "rave rejection." These are the sorts of rejections I get from literary publications all the time. They go something like this: "Loved your story! Great writing. But...sorry, no." So, imagine the above scenario repeating, I kid you not, 5 times! Yes, I got rejected 5 times from the same contest, and each time, I thought, "No way can I come up with anything like that again." But, then I would.

So, the above story was among the 5 rejected stories. None of my 5 submissions got within the "final five" of the contest; however, the editors liked this particular story so much (but not enough to be within the final five winners) that they asked to publish it in a regular issue of the magazine. And, recently, the magazine notified me that it was selected as one of their "editor picks of the year" for publication in their annual print version of magazine, which comes out in January. So, despite the fact that it wasn't good enough to win me any cash or bragging rights in the contest, it's still a story that got some recognition from the editors, and I appreciated that. As an aside, my mother hated it, and actually called me to ask if there was something wrong with me for writing such a tale.

Can't please everyone, I guess.

Anyhoo, my professional goals for 2010? I think that is an assured "success"!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Goals Reviewed Part 1

While some of you suckers had to go back to work today, I still get to enjoy an entire week off. And, I'm still taking Norah to daycare in the afternoons, so that means 4 and 1/2 hours every afternoon this week all. to. my. self! Awesome. So, what fun things am I doing? Well, truthfully, a lot of housekeeping. So, not very fun, but very necessary, and it's good to finally get around to those oft-neglected parts of the house that need cleaning and/or organizing.

Anyhoo, this housekeeping made me think of other "housekeeping" as in revisiting the goals I made for myself at the start of this year and assessing how I've done before beginning fresh with new goals for 2011. (As an aside, can you believe it's gonna be 2011?! I mean, c'mon, is this for reals? Shouldn't we be flying around in jet packs or on hovercrafts, or at the very least, battling Skynet in an epic humans-vs-machines-war?)

So, I separated my goals for 2010 into 3 categories, and I figure I'll break up my review into those 3 categories; thus, today: the personal goals I set for myself. They were as follows:

1. Be the most awesome wife and mother I can. I'm already pretty awesome, but I'm sure I could crank it up another notch in order to accomplish the superlative "most."

2. Re-read some favorite books. In 2009, I read 37 books. Not bad considering my leisure time was spliced into about a quarter of what it was pre-baby. I seem to average reading about 40 books a year, and let's be frank: They're piling up. Time to re-visit a few that I particularly love.

3. On the financial front, I'd like to save more. My savings account took a serious hit during my maternity leave (I was not paid for my time off), and I'd like to re-build it.

So, how'd I do on those?

#1: Success! Of course, I have no quantitative way of measuring my success here, but I think I'm pretty awesome and Norah and Jerry rarely complain about my lack of awesomeness, so I think I declare victory on this front.

#2: Fail! Not only did I fail to re-read favorite books, but this was really the year that could be labeled "failed to finish most books." I don't know what it was about my selections, but I have quite the stack that I started but never finished. Granted, I also read (and finished) some great books this year (currently, I can't tear myself away from Justin Cronin's The Passage -- VERY awesome novel), but it seems like this has been a year of unprecedented DNFs amongst books. I used to be a person who finished a book no matter what, but then I realized that my time was more valuable than that, so now if I get a certain way through a book and it just doesn't "have" me, I put aside and move on. So, here are a few that I started and didn't finish:
  • Matterhorn (this was on Time's most notable books of the year, but I read about 100 pages and though "meh," not notable for me)
  • Mockingjay (3rd in the Hunger Games trilogy -- loved the 1st novel, felt so-so about the 2nd, clearly, didn't think much of the 3rd)
  • Little Bee (very intriguing for the first 100 pages or so, and then blah...)
  • A Vintage Affair (couldn't get past 50 pages in this one; I found it so boring and the plot seemed to be leading in a very predictable, very cliche direction, so I ditched it, but it's on the Nook's top 25 "most lent" books, so some people must really like it)

#3: Simultaneous success and fail! Explanation? I really didn't manage to save much more this year, but instead, I decided about 2 months into the year that it made better financial sense to focus on eliminating more of our debt rather than socking it all away in savings. So, in this year, I managed to pay off both Jerry and I's remaining student loans, which totaled about $15K! Now, the debt we have remaining is a car loan and our mortgage. So, I didn't really save much in terms of fattening my savings account, but I did save us lots by eliminating that debt and thus saving ourselves from continuing to pay interest on those loans.

So, as far as the personal goals I set for myself, I think it was largely a successful year. Tomorrow, we'll see how I did on the professional front.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Review

On Christmas Eve, we spent a few hours in the afternoon and early evening with our families via Skype. We chatted and opened gifts "together," and despite the fact that we'd rather be with our families in person, this was still a great way to feel like we were spending the holiday with them. Below, Norah enjoys the cradle her grandpa made for her baby. She L-O-V-E-S it! And it's so cute, because she tucks her baby in and says "shhhh" while she rocks her doll.
This one below is a bit blurry, but Norah is showing off her penguin tattoo. It goes well with the fancy dress and pink cowgirl boots, doesn't it?
Chillaxin' on the back porch with her baby doll.
On Christmas morning, Norah didn't waste any time tearing into the packages that we'd been telling her for weeks to quit un-wrapping; she was finally given free reign to un-wrap to her heart's content. She began by helping Scooter with his gifts.
Then moved on to her own.
The process of un-wrapping literally took most of the day. We'd un-wrap some, play, have a snack, etc, and then return to the un-wrapping. Turned out that we never even got out of our PJs. Below: Norah playing with her My Little Pony, which I had a good time with as well. There is something very zen about brushing and braiding Pony hair.
Norah in the reindeer antlers.
And, finally, after all the gifts were opened, it was just time to play.
We never went anywhere, and we didn't have any company, but somehow, the day wore us all out! And, I was in bed by 8:30. So, it was a fun holiday, but I'm glad it only comes once a year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Semi-Wordless Wednesday

It was warmer this morning than Monday morning, but still cool enough that Norah had to get her sweatshirt on for our run. Here she chillaxin before we got ready to head out:And here she is ready to travel "light" for the run: I told her to gather up what she wanted for the ride, and who doesn't need a naked baby doll and half a dozen books for a run?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rest Day

Right now, I am not running every day. My goal has been to run 3-4 days a week -- typically, I run Mon, Wed, Fri and try to run a day on the weekend, but if I don't, I don't -- and on the "off" days, I have been trying to enjoy some other less strenuous forms of exercise. Principally, walking, doing some light weight lifting (and by light, I mean literally light -- I don't own hand weights that weigh more than 5 lbs), and returning to the prenatal yoga (more on that later).

This schedule has been nice and seems to be working smoothly so far. In a perfect preggo-world, I would run farther, faster, and more frequently, but my 12 miles a week or so actually has been working out well: It's enough to make me feel as though I'm still keeping up with my running, but it's not so much that it takes any toll on me. Plus, I admit to liking my "off" days, a day like today.

Thus, this afternoon, I did a leisurely walk with Scooter -- and you have to really emphasize the "leisure" part of this because with Scooter, it's "walk, walk, walk, stop and sniff for a bit, then walk, walk, walk...oh, squirrel! walk fast! now, stop and sniff again, walk, walk, stop and stare at something my mom can't see" etc -- yeah, we don't get anywhere real fast. Anyway, after our walk, I did my 10 minute strength training DVD and did the upper body segment, an area I'm really lacking in, stretched and called it good.

So, yeah, my x-train days are basically glorified rest days, but at least I did that activity before I settled on to the couch and read for an hour! Could've just skipped the walk and weights for more reading time, but I was good; plus, the bit of exercise before sloth makes the sloth that much more enjoyable!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Clothing Dilemma

The weather here in FL has been neurotic lately: One day it's as cold as 39 degrees, the next, it's 80. So, while I was bundled up for my runs early in the week last week, by the end of the week, I was back to shorts and a sleeveless tee. This morning, though, it was a bit chilly again, with temps in the mid-40s, so I again donned the capri running tights and a long-sleeved shirt over a tech tee.

My dilemma this morning, though, had nothing to do with what to dress me in and everything to do with what to dress Norah in. Since she's riding, not running, her dress concerns are very different: She won't get warm from the workout, plus she'll have the breeze from the run. So, she got bundled up, complete with a fuzzy blanket covering her and her doll -- who, along with the doll's bottle, sippy cup, plate and fork, all regularly go on runs with us; it's quite the stroller-full of occupants and their accessories.

She seemed just fine during the run, but afterward, she did have cold little fingers; still, she didn't complain so I take that as a sign that she was comfortable during her ride. As for me, I got warm enough half way through our 3 miler to shed my long sleeved shirt and go in my t-shirt. It's sweaty work pushing 40+ pounds of stroller, toddler, and baby doll, even if it is only 49 degrees out!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Cold" Weather Running

Granted, the cold we're experiencing here in South Florida is nothing compared to the cold that most of you are used to, but for South Florida temps to dip down into the 30s, well, that's basically like hell freezing over. People are buying space heaters and parkas like it's the end of the world. While we haven't yet caved and turned on our furnace, I have been wearing layers and drinking hot tea by the vat -- what can I say? -- after living in FL for 6 and 1/2 years, my body has grown used to the tropical temps.

But, when it comes to running, this is the kind of weather I love. However, I find dressing for these temps problematic. Today, for example, I ran in the late afternoon, and the temps were in the high 40s, but there were significant gusts of wind (yes, the news has actually been using the term "wind chill"). After hemming and hawing for a bit, I decided upon the following: Capri tights, short sleeved tech shirt, covered by a long sleeved tech shirt. Before heading out, I thought I'd be shedding that long sleeved shirt right away, but honestly, I was SO glad I wore it because I was cold for most of the way and only once I was about half a mile from home, with the wind at my back and the sun in my eyes, did I get warm enough to tie that shirt around my waist and go in the short sleeves.

So, I arrived home thusly:
Aside from the initial clothing dilemma, the run was great. And the most wonderful thing about running in such temps is that I don't even break a sweat. I just get rosey in the cheeks. Refreshing!

Tonight, there is a freeze warning in effect, which means that by tomorrow morning, many Floridians will either be popsicles or will be charred from their ill-advised space heaters. I think we may turn on our furnace -- I don't think I can handle the house dipping below the frigid temp of 69. That's my threshold ;)

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Back!

I have been thinking about my blog this past week, and when my friend Shannon mentioned the blog's absence last Friday in conversation, it made me miss it. And, that my friends, is what I had been waiting for. When I embarked on this hiatus, I told myself I needed to wait until I missed it before resuming writing; otherwise, I was just doing it to do it. So, here I am. You can go ahead and resume your prayers for world peace -- this prayer has been answered.

So, what's been up with Jess? Running, wife-ing, mom-ing, teaching, and baby brewing. Frankly, it's been a bit exhausting. But things are good on all fronts:

  • I've been running regularly and raced a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and am tentatively planning to run a 5 mile race this weekend.
  • Jerry and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving as well (he's very thankful for me, and who wouldn't be? I'm a kickass wife).

  • Norah is doing well: She's talking and getting into all kinds of toddler mischief -- chief mischief right now is unwrapping wrapped Christmas presents, the stinker!

  • Teaching has been busy, but I'm almost done with the term. Just a few days left, and a bazillion papers to read, and then it's Christmas break!

  • Lastly, the baby brewing is tiring, but going well. Chief among my reasons for the blog hiatus was that with all of the above, I felt I had very little energy left in me at the end of the day to devote any meaningful time to blogging, and for me, baby brewing in the first trimester is an awful combination of nausea and fatigue. In some ways, this pregnancy has been easier than when I was pregnant with Norah because I have known what to expect (whereas, with Norah I had no idea I would feel THAT sick for THAT long); but in other ways, this pregnancy has been a lot harder for me. Mostly that's because with the first pregnancy I had the luxury of just taking care of myself, which meant that I napped nearly every afternoon, and if I didn't feel good, I could often just lay down for a bit. But, with Norah, I don't have the convenience of napping whenever I feel tired. So, taking care of a toddler and working full time and brewing a baby definitely zapped me of just about anything extra.

But, at 16 weeks and 2 days, I now feel as though I'm beginning to feel better and some of my energy is returning. I have more good days than bad ones, and it's been 5 days since I last barfed -- a new kind of streak! Here's a pic I snapped of myself last Friday before I went for my run: I am definitely showing earlier than I did when I was preggo with Norah, even though my weight gain, so far, has been about the same. To compare, below is a pic of me preggo with Norah when I was 18 weeks. Looks about the same. In fact, I dare say that at 18 weeks with Norah, I looked less pregnant than I do right now.
"They" say that you show earlier after the first pregnancy, and it seems to be true for me.

Anyhoo, I do have a stack of papers to get to, Christmas shopping to finish, and a few finals left to procter, so I can't linger here in the blogosphere long, but I'm hoping that after my term is over (Thursday!), I'll have some time to begin posting again regularly and catching up with all of you. Hope all has been well with you guys in my absence: I'm sure it was tempting to ball up in a corner and cry while I was gone, but I hope you were resilient!

Monday, November 01, 2010


Blogging and I need a break. I don't know if I'll be absent for a few days, few weeks, or few months, but I've decided that I'm gonna be MIA for a spell.

There's no particular reason, but I suppose after nearly 5 and 1/2 years of blogging, I've grown a bit weary of it, and it's been difficult to drum up enough enthusiasm for it to make it a meaningful investment of my time. So, I figure a little sabbatical is in order.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Run and A Latte: Must Be Feeling Okay

Today was the first day this week that I woke up feeling mostly normal. So, I went for a run. I am slower than slow right now, so I've already decided to ditch the Garmin, but Norah and I did 3 miles and it felt pretty good. It was overcast this morning, and the cloud cover was nice; however, it was incredibly humid, so I was a Sweaty-McSweaterson when we finished.

The (mostly) settled stomach has continued so far today (knock on wood), and I even managed to stomach an iced latte on my way in to work! I have been missing coffee like terrible (and going through caffeine-withdrawal alongside 1st trimester ickiness is not cool), but I haven't been able to even stomach the idea of coffee for the past month or so. But, I was feeling good, and I figured a latte would sit pretty well since it has so much milk in it. It...was...awesome!

Of course, after the first caffeine that I've had in over a month, I'm now a little jittery and the post-coffee slump will probably strike right about the time I have actual class, but it was so worth it! Coffee, I have missed you. I hope this morning sickness passes soon so we can re-kindle our love affair (in a moderate amount, of course -- preggo ladies have to limit themselves).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The past two mornings, I've felt pretty nauseous, so it's been walking not running that's been on the exercise agenda. Walking allows me to get outside, get a bit of fresh air and exercise, but it doesn't exacerbate the pukiness. It's not as satisfying as a run, but I do what I can.

Evening running this time of year begins to diminish as a possibility since it gets darker earlier, and by the time Norah's in bed (granted, she goes to bed blessedly early), I don't much feel like going for a run. To the contrary, most evenings, I only want to put on pajama pants and slip into a TV coma.

So, that means I don't have much to share right now in terms of running. Instead, I figured I'd entertain you with a few of Norah's more interesting exploits as of late. She's an active little nugget and every time we turn around, she's climbing into or onto something.

Here she is trying to climb through the bar chairs: I have no clue WHY she'd be attempting this maneuever, but she got stuck in the attempt. That's all I know. Then, here she is "helping" me unload the dishwasher. I imagine her to be thinking: "Well, how else am I supposed to get to the top rack?"
And, here she is sitting in Scooter's toy basket. He was not too pleased about this. It seems nothing of his is sacred anymore. Poor dog.
He makes up for it by stealing food directly out of her hands. So, I suppose it's an even trade.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today, we went to the Miami Zoo, and it was an awesome day. The last time we took Norah to the zoo, she was only about 7 months old, so she wasn't all that interested. But this time? She dug it. Here are some pics.

Norah admiring the elephants (elephants not pictured here -- but use your imagination). Norah and I by a lion!
Norah and I by the giraffes. Norah got to feed a giraffe, but she was actually a little creeped out by the experience. We thought she'd love it, but she was more hesitant than we thought she'd be. Her way of giving the lettuce to the giraffe seemed to say, "Ack! Here, you go ahead and have it!"
Norah's favorite part of the day actually had nothing to do with animals and everything to do with the water park featured in part of the zoo.
Here she is trying to drink the water. Yeeeaahh, she got splashed in the face quite a few times ;)
She got completely soaked, but that was fine (I had packed an extra set of clothes anyway), and the water park fun seemed to totally revive her in the early afternoon. And it helped her last a little longer as we finished up the exhibits.

This was not the end of our zoo day, but it was the end of my camera's battery life. Which brings me to a separate note: I need a new camera! One that actually takes the picture when I push the button. Any recommendations? I want a point and shoot camera (I don't want to spend the money, nor do I want to have to return to school for a Master's in Photography for an SLR).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morning Sickness Redux

For those who followed and read along when I was preggo with Norah, you may recall my bitching and moaning about being sick for...oh...about 20 weeks of my pregnancy with her. Well, I'm here today to tell you that if that bothered you, you may want to seek other reading because, so far, I have been just as barfy with this baby as I was with Norah. And after suffering silently for the past few weeks, I believe I am ready to share this lovely part of my pregnancy with you.

So, first of all, again the term "morning sickness"? A misnomer. As was evidenced when I puked up my chocolate ice cream the other night at 9:30 pm. (And BTW? Who knew that chocolate ice cream would burn coming up? Not me. I'd have guessed that one to be a smooth-puker.)

What triggers the barfisodes? Nothing and everything. That means there's no one thing that makes me want to hurl (ie, specific smells); I just feel nauseous all the time and, therefore, everything kinda makes me wanna hurl.

What helps? The traditional stuff: Ginger ale, saltines, Ramen soup, toast. Nothing very nutritional, but most days it's just about keeping my food down. That said, just as when I was first pregnant with Norah, I have a similar avoidance to meat. For some reason, when I'm eating meat right now I am just VERY aware that I'm chewing flesh. Disgusting, right? Exactly. So, I've been eating about 90% vegetarian lately, so I am getting my fill of fruit and veggies -- they just aren't always as kind as saltines.

Feeling sick like this on a daily basis wears me out, but I've been trying to do my best to trudge through my days and do my best at work and at home and with running (which, actually often makes me feel temporarily better; I think being out in the fresh air helps a lot). Today, though, I feel especially rotten, so I called in sick and cancelled my classes. I'm feeling guilty about that because I know this isn't like the flu, so a day's rest won't make it go away. I just have to deal with it.

Still, the extra rest sure is nice!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pregnant Running: Take Two

Thanks for all the comments on my previous post: They're all appreciated!

So, onto preggo running "take two":

Yes, I was finishing up the streak while preggo, but it was very, very early then and I actually didn't know I was pregnant then. Still, it does explain why the last week or two of the streak felt so draining and tiring.

Since the streak's end and the discovery of pregnancy #2, I have continued running, but have been keeping it short and slow -- not intentionally. In fact, I had hoped to be able to run the Halloween HM that I had planned on, but quickly it became apparent to me that the fatigue and barfiness from the 1st trimester were gonna hamper that effort. So, that's why I decided to throw in the towel on those race plans.

But, I do plan to continue running through this pregnancy, as I did when I was pregnant with Norah. And I would like to be able to race, but realistically, I think those races will probably be short distances.

Right now, I have been running about 3-4 days a week, and that's been fine. It's a good time of year to run, and while I'd like to be doing running that's faster and farther, I understand my limitations right now. So, in some ways, it's like starting a new streak: My goal is not to run every day, but it is to simply keep running for as long as this pregnancy allows me to do so.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spillin' the Beans

Well, I may as well go ahead and reveal some big news: I'm pregnant!

Originally, I was gonna wait awhile longer to unveil this giant nugget of news on the blog, but seeing as all of our family and friends now know, I figured I may as well expand the web of knowledge to include you guys: the interweb.

So, there you have it: Norah's gonna be a big sister!

I'm due May 30th, so I'm still in the first trimester and have been feeling pretty much as I did when I was preggo with Norah: pukey and tired. Some days are better than others, but most days include at least some nausea and too many days include at least some barfing.

I'll write more on how this has impacted running as of late, but for now, I'll allow you to absorb the news and flood my comments section with "congrats!" Go ahead, let the gushing commence.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back to Routine

The wedding we attended last night was really nice: Perfect evening for a beach wedding. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was a lot of fun. Forgot my camera, though (FAIL!)

My dad also had a good evening with Norah. They played with "every toy in the house" and he was especially tickled by Norah's purse fettish.She likes to wear them up on her shoulder, just like Mom.
And lately, she'll put a purse on her shoulder, walk to the door and wave "bye-bye." Seriously cute. Anyhoo, she was great for him and went to bed easily and was out for the night, so he said it was the easiest evening of babysitting he'd ever done. Phew!

Today, then, we went to Butterfly World and Norah loved it! Too bad I forgot my camera (another FAIL!), but Norah loved watching all the different butterflies and she liked the flowers and birds as well. Very captivating for a little munchkin.

On the running front, I actually went out for a run today.

Since ending the streak, my running has been a bit...ummm...sporadic. Which is why I've made the executive decision to not run the Halloween HM in Miami Beach. It was a tough call because my pride and ego wanted me to do it no matter what, but my more practical side knows that I'm under-prepared and I know that while I would most likely be able to finish, it wouldn't be the race that I'd want. So, I've decided to bench it for this year.

It was a tough call, but I think it's the right one. I can always run it next year if I so desire.

For now, I need to focus on balancing everything better so that I can return to a more regular running routine. But, I also think that after the streak, I must've needed a little distance from running. Now that I feel like I've had the break I needed, I want to create a schedule that will enable me to return to regularity.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Catching Up

I actually got everything I needed to get done this week, done. I knew I would, but there were some days where I felt like maybe I wouldn't. What sucks is that from here on out in the term, there's not much reprieve in the workload, so next week, a whole new batch of papers will roll in. Yippie!

But, getting caught up at work also helped me to get caught up with some things at home, and I was able to actually clean, clean the house for my dad's visit this weekend. His trip is a last minute one that worked well with a meeting he has down here, so he's only staying the weekend, but it worked out well for us because he's gonna babysit Norah tonight while Jerry and I attend a wedding.

I just hope Norah goes to bed easily for him. The last time we had a grandparent babysit while we were at a wedding did not go well.

Should be a beautiful day for a FL beach wedding, though. It's the perfect temp out and I have the A/C off and the windows open today, which is glorious. Hmmmm, maybe it's a good day to actually go for a run? We'll see.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I know it's lame to blog about not having the time to blog, but...that's about all I have to say for myself. Right now, I'm at mid-term in the semester, so that means I'm eyeball deep in papers, and with what little free time I have, I just haven't had the urge to spend it in front of the computer in the past week or so. Sorry. Deepest apologies. But, soon I should have a brief reprieve in the workload, so perhaps some regular posting and actual reading and commenting on your blogs will resume.

In the meantime, certainly, I couldn't forget you guys, especially when I receive such thoughtful gifts like this: Shelly sent this to me last week, and I love it! It was such a fun surprise to get in the mail, and I really appreciated her taking the time and effort to create something so special for me. Thanks again, Shelly!

I put the charm on a necklace with another running charm I have, and I think they go great together!
As much as I appreciated Shelly's gift, it had me thinking: Why aren't more of you sending me thoughtful trinkets? I deserve more loot, dangit! So, as long as you promise to not send me hand grenades and scary letters pasted together out of newsprint, go ahead and email me for my mailing address. Maybe if I get enough presents, I'll be a more faithful blogger again ;)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Streaking: The Disadvantages

This is a follow-up post to what I started last week, as I ruminated about my 100 day streak. So, without further ado:

The Disadvantages

For me, the primary downside to streaking can be summed up quite concisely: I found that I often sacrificed quality for quantity. Or maybe I shouldn't even say "quantity." Perhaps "consistency" is more accurate. In short, I ran every day, but I didn't run far and I didn't run fast.

There are those runners out there who can streak and put in quality runs, but that wasn't me. I seem to be able to do one or other, but not both. When streaking then, my running energy and mojo had to be focused on the very simple task of running every day, just getting it done. This was fine for the summer months since I had no races on the calendar and no real concrete running or training plans, so just getting the running done was good enough. But, now that it's fall and I have a few races in mind, I didn't feel I could continue to streak and train.

The other principle disadvantage to streaking was that, at the end, I began to feel burned out.

I think this was because I'd been working with the same goal for 100 days -- run every day -- and I'm one of those people who needs to change things up just a smidgen every 3-4 months with a new goal. Plus, it's nice for me to have a little space between those new goals, so it was restful for me to end the streak and take a few days off before resuming my running again.

And for your info, I took 4 days off last week, and then began running again on Saturday, and right now, my primary goal is prepping myself for my Halloween HM (which I am currently feeling very under-trained for).

So, there weren't very many disadvantages for me, and I'm fortunate to be able to streak for 100 days and avoid injury. However, while the disadvantages were few, they were still significant enough that I couldn't picture myself continuing the streak beyond those 100 days. Last week, on day 101, I was more than ready to rest!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Bathroom Pics

Tomorrow, I'll resume my "part deux" to my streaking post.

For now, I figured I'd post some pictures of our remodeled bathroom. Here's the view from the hallway leading into the bathroom: Our weird, extra vanity to the left, main bathroom straight ahead:
Here's the new vanity. Reflected in the mirror is the linen closet.
Here's a view straight on of the bathroom itself as you enter through the door:And then here is shower/bath tub:
Another shot of the tub:
And the view from the other side of the bathroom:
Overall, we're pleased with how everything turned out, and it sure is wonderful having this bathroom back and having the construction mess cleaned up!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Streaking: The Good Stuff

Running the 100 day streak certainly provided me with new ways in which I think about running and what my body is capable of on a daily basis. From those new discoveries, I have lots to share in terms of what I found valuable and meaningful about streaking, and what I think is potentially destructive and/or meaningless.

Because I find that while drafting this I can't be concise, I have decided to break this subject into two posts. So, to start:

The Good Stuff

First and foremost, the streak taught me a new kind of discipline.

Like most runners, I don't always want to run. Most days I do run because: I am following a training schedule, it makes me feel good, I want to burn off a burrito indulgence, etc. But, there have been days a-plenty when I should have run but chose instead to skip it. And those days I skipped weren't necessarily for good reason: Sometimes I skipped simply because I "didn't wanna!"

But, with a streak, there is no "don't wanna" opt out. "Don't wanna?" Too bad! Go do it!

So, within 100 days, I learned to run through nearly every potential roadblock: Bad attitude, fatigue, sickness, boredom, my child's sickness, travel, re-modeling, bad weather, and busy days. Therefore, I discovered that, really, there are very few excuses to avoid exercise, and fitting it in most often just demands creativity, flexibility, and discipline. Learning that I was capable of these qualities was immeasurably valuable to me, and it gave me the confidence to think like this: "If I can run through _______, then I can run through ________." Once I filled in the blanks, I figured out there was little that I couldn't run through.

Also, streaking helped give me a new appreciation for my body's strengths.

Running has always made me grateful to be physically strong and healthy, and it has enabled me to value my body for what it can do, not restrict myself to just thinking about how I look (although, it's my opinion that running only improves that perspective as well). But, streaking took this to a new level because it demanded that I run through fatigue and exhaustion, and it didn't allow me a day to rest. Thus, I discovered that I was stronger than I thought.

What I discovered was that I could do this, and this gave me a new appreciation for my body and its abilities. But, it also gave me a greater appreciation for the power of mental fortitude: It really is mind over matter on most days.

Lastly, streaking helped provide me with motivation to get out there and simply run.

Summer has always been a hard time for me to be motivated to run: There are very few races here that time of year, and the weather makes running difficult and uncomfortable. So, in the past, I've often seen my mileage take a nose dive in June, July, and August. But this year, with the streak, I had months that, for the first time in a long time, matched my winter mileage. And, streaking made meeting those mileage goals easy: I had just one, simple task. Run. Every day.

So, for the most part, I found the experience to be enriching and rewarding. And it is certainly an experiment I may consider tackling again, perhaps next summer. But, there were also drawbacks to the streak, and it's because of some of these drawbacks that I felt it was best -- for me -- to end the streak at 100 days. I'll discuss those drawbacks in my next post.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All Sorts of Stuff

Things have been a whirlwind in the Jess and Jer-Bear household as of late, primarily because we (read: Jerry) have been working like well-oiled machines getting the bathroom remodel finished. Thankfully, last night at about 9 pm, we were both able to finally sit down and survey the accomplishment: A finished bathroom.

Pictures will be forthcoming.

The big push to finish was prompted by today's arrival of my SIL, who is staying with us for a week. We wanted it done before she got here, and while it is done, other household cleaning that I like to have done before houseguests arrive was ignored. So our home is not as clean as I'd like to be for her arrival. I know she won't care, but I care. Oh well, these are the small things I just have to let go of.

Lastly, I think I chose the perfect timing for ending the streak since a Tropical Storm rolled in yesterday, and it's been a downpour for the past 48 hours. And, yes, I took yesterday completely off running and I do believe I will also be resting today. It feels good to not have to run. Plus, I think a few days away from it will help restore my desire to want to get back to it; I was losing that desire at the end of the streak.

I have other thoughts on the streak that I'd like to share, plus there are those bathroom pics and a review or two that have been sitting on the back burner for awhile, so I have lots of blog material, now I just need to find a few spare moments to write it all out!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The 100th Day

This morning's 3 miler marked the 100th consecutive day of running in this streak. And despite its distinction, it was pretty much like the previous 99 days of running.

Here I am pre-run: And Norah pre-run:
Norah hasn't accompanied me on every single run in the past 100 days, but she has been present for the large majority, so it seemed fitting to have her along this morning. And Pink Bear too. He goes with us most places these days.

And, here's my sweaty self post-run: The picture doesn't really demonstrate my level of sweatitude, but that's probably for the best because it's gross.

And this is really the best I can snap of Norah post-run:
She doesn't sit still much these days unless she's sleeping or strapped into her stroller or car seat.

So, that's it. 100 days of running. Done.

Tomorrow, I rest.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Almost There

With the current tile installation, life at home as been hectic. Thus, why my runs in the past two days have been short and at odd times. Certainly, it's circumstances such as these that would make a treadmill handy.

As of today's run, I'm at 96 days in the streak, so less than a handful of days before I reach 100, and I have to admit that I'm struggling a bit even though I know that the end is within sight (and, yes, I think 100 days will be the end of this streak). I feel like the last week or two have been comparable to the last 10K of a marathon, and it's required all of my mental fortitude and determination to see this streak through until its desired conclusion. But, I know I can make it to 100 days, and I hope to do so with some stronger, longer runs this weekend.

But if nothing else, I'm gonna army crawl to the end of this streak if I have to.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


And 3, actually.

See, as of Monday's run, my yearly mileage hit a nice, round 700. And then yesterday, I ran another 3, so the year's mileage now sits at 703. With a little more than 3 calendar months left in 2010, I think I shall aim to hit 1,000 miles. That means, of course, maintaining an average of 100 miles a month for the remainder of the year.

Challenge extended...challenge accepted!

In other news, the people who are installing the tile in our bathroom are supposed to start this afternoon, and yesterday, they dropped off the materials. Yeah, it's been fun trying to keep Norah off this stuff:And, let's be honest: A better mom would keep her child off of the building materials instead of taking pictures of her child climbing on said materials.

The tile is the last major component of the bathroom remodel. Right now, things look like this: Below is a pic from the hallway of the master bedroom into the bathroom. We have a weird master bath -- to the right is a walk-in closet and to the left is a vanity, and then, straight ahead is the bathroom itself.
Here's the bathroom with the new (so shiny and clean!) counter tops, cabinets, and fixtures:
And here's the view from the opposite side of the bathroom: New tub, tile is gonna be all along the wall there around the tub.
So, yeah: It's looking good so far. But, I'm so ready for this remodeling project to be finished, and once the tile is in, finishing should be pretty fast. This has been a project that has lasted about 2 months now, and while I know that construction messes are just part and parcel of a remodel, and they are temporary, it's been hard to live with this mess in our bedroom:
Yes, that's a table saw under some of the piled materials, and yes, that's the bathroom door leaned against the footboard of our bed. If you were to walk around to the other side of the bed, you'd be greeted by an air compressor.

I'm a pretty patient person, and a pretty flexible person: I understand that I just have to go with the flow of things. But after 2 months, a girl no longer wants to have to step around a table saw to get to the dresser. You know?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keys Camping: The Running

Saturday morning, Norah and I were up before the sunrise -- which isn't that early considering the sun is currently rising at about 7:20 am here in South Florida -- and it was certainly scenic to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic. Other campers in our party soon followed suit, and we all began the leisurely task of making camp coffee and breakfast. A friend actually brought espresso and a camp-modified espresso maker, so I got to have a latte while sitting ocean-side; and, Jerry made an awesome "big breakfast." So, it was about 9 am before I got dressed in my running clothes and readied myself for my day's run.

By this time, the sun had been up for an hour and half, and it was easily in the high 80s, and I was already sweating as I changed into my shorts and sports bra. Everyone else in the crew was in their swimsuits and heading out into the water while I was heading out to run.

There were a few "Jess is crazy" comments.
We were camping in a state park, so I decided to run some nature trails on the other half of the park -- away from the camp sites. Part of the trails were a boardwalk that took me over and through some swampy marshland, but then I came upon the actual dirt trails, and those took me out along the ocean. Granted, it wasn't beach running (the Keys actually don't have notable beaches -- common misconception; they have narrow strips of beach, but it's not like the wide, sugar sand beaches that can be found along FL's mainland beaches), but it was close enough. I wish I had brought my camera along, but alas, I had left it back at our campsite, so sorry: No pics of this run.

While the scenery was enjoyable, the temp and the sun were not. I was pouring sweat and was really uncomfortable running under the sun's direct rays, so I only ran 2.5 miles and then returned to our campsite.

There were showers and bathrooms at our site, but I opted instead to hop into my swimsuit and take Norah out into the water for a dip instead. Thankfully, the morning's water was cool and refreshing (by late afternoon, it was the temp of bath water), so it felt good to get into the ocean to cool off post-run.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Keys Camping 2010

We got home this afternoon from our camping trip to the Keys, and now that we've had the chance to un-pack and wash the layers of sweat, sunscreen, bug spray, and camp fire off of us, we're ready to just chillax in the cool of A/C for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Right now, Norah and Scooter are crashed out napping, and Jerry and I are watching a disappointing Vikings game.

The camping was great, and we had a fun weekend. Norah was a great camper, and she seemed to enjoy the idea of basically living at the beach for 2 days. Of course, it will take days to wash the sand off of everyone and everything, but that's South Florida camping.

Here are some pics:

Now, I have to go vacuum half the beach out of my car. Good times, good times.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 90

This morning, my intention was to run 8 miles. That didn't happen.

Instead, I did 3.

I got a late start, and with a gazillion things to get done this morning before we leave for the Keys this afternoon, I just felt like I didn't have the time to run longer. I feel bad because I have really been shorting myself on long runs, and haven't run anything longer than 7 miles in a long time. This wouldn't be a big deal if I didn't have a HM on Halloween.

I'm getting the kind of weekly mileage in that I normally would for a half, but almost all of my runs are short. So, I know I'm shorting myself on that training, but what can I say? Life has simply been too busy the past few weeks, and when I'm pressed for time, 30 minutes sure seems more economical that 80 minutes out of my day.

Anyway, I got the run done, so at least the streak continues on. Today marks day 90! Just 10 more days until I reach the 100 milestone.

Alrighty, that's all the time I have for today because I still have to finish some packing and clean the house before Jerry and Norah get home at lunch. And then we're off! It's funny because I think we are packing more stuff for 2 days of camping than we did when we went to MN for 3 weeks last spring! We may need a U-Haul to cart it all down to the Keys.

Enjoy your weekends! I'm gonna spend mine parked in a camping chair on the beach with a beer. Norah can entertain herself. Right?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Grump

After a few good nights of sleep, Norah went and screwed with me last night by waking up at midnight, 3 am, 4 am, 5:30 am and then for good at about 6:15 am. I don't know what was up with that, so I will chock it up to randomness and hope it doesn't repeat too frequently. For the most part, she's always been a good, solid sleeper, but ever since we went to MN a few weeks ago, her sleep quality seems hit and miss.

Anyway, she was perfectly chipper and full of energy this morning, but I was not. In fact, I was a Grumpapotamus, whose grumpiness couldn't even be cured by coffee. So, I certainly did NOT want to run; however, Thursday is my busy day -- classes until 9 pm -- so opting out of the morning run and chosing an evening run was not an option today.

So, what I'd do?

Took Norah and my bad mood for a run. The bad mood was probably more burdensome than Norah, but the run did help to shake that off some. It was a slow 3 miler, but that's fine -- I considered it a recovery run after last night's 6 miler.

Tomorrow morning, Norah is going to daycare in the morning so I have time to finish some of our packing and readying for our weekend camping trip to the Keys, and I also plan on getting an early 8 miler in so I don't have to worry about running anything long while we're camping. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

6 Things About My 6 Miler

1. It was buggy. I'm still digging their small carcasses out of my eyeballs.

2. I think I'm beginning to like the iPod's controls on the earbud wires. I can't say why, but I am warming to them.

3. I wish I had taken water. By the end, I was parched.

4. The "feels like" temp was 90. Yup, that's September in South Florida.

5. The one signal that the season is changing is that it is getting darker earlier. I got back from the evening's run at 7:30, and it was already nearly dark.

6. I finished my 6 miler in 59:09, which is a 9:48 min/mile pace. I started out a little too fast (9:23 pace) and then slowly tired out. But, anytime I cruise in at a sub-10 min/mile pace, I'm pleased.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Catching Up

Norah is doing better.

She hasn't had a fever since Sunday night, and last night, she slept better than she had the previous 3 nights, so the anitbiotics must be doing their work. She went to her regular pediatrician yesterday, and even though she didn't love getting re-examined, I took comfort from seeing her regular physician and having him confirm what the urgent care pediatrician diagnosed. Not that the urgent care physician is any less a legitimate doctor, but...it's tough entirely trusting them.

Anyhoo, she's on the mend, and that's the important thing. (She has 4 days until we go camping, so she needs to make sure she's in tip-top shape for her first foray into "roughing it"!)

So, I ran a 3 miler last night on my own, and this morning, Norah and I did another 3 miler. So far, my mileage for September is really piddly, and it's already the middle of the month, so I hope to try and fit a few longer, solo runs in later in the week.

As of today's run, I have 87 consecutive runs invested in this streak: 13 more days until the big 100! I can do it, I can do it, I can do it...

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Bare Minimum

Turns out, Norah has an ear infection.

Yesterday afternoon when she got up from her nap, I picked her up and she was BURNING up. I took her temp and it was 100 degrees, so I packed her up and we headed to a pediatric urgent care. There, her temp was 102.9! With ear infections in both ears and a terrible cough, we went home with prescriptions for antibiotics and a nebulizer.

This is the first time she's ever had a fever or any kind of infection, and I feel terrible for not taking her in on Saturday, but with her, it honestly is tough to tell that she's sick because she pretty much acts like her normal self -- she's cheerful and playful, she eats well, she wasn't pulling on her ears. The only truly telling detail that she felt really sick was that her sleep was off all weekend. Otherwise, seriously, it just seemed like a mild cold -- or maybe even teething.

Today she can't go to daycare, so Jerry is gonna come home at lunch and be with her for the afternoon while I'm in class, and I am gonna get her in to her regular pediatrician for a follow up exam today (the urgent care people were nice and thorough, but there was a distinct difference between being treated there and being treated with our regular physician; plus, they sent us home with the recommendation to see her regular pediatrician today anyway).

So, last night, I was wiped out. It had taken nearly 2 hours at the urgent care. Then, I had to run to Walgreens for her prescriptions, and then I guess a lack of sleep just caught up to me, because I did NOT want to run last night. It was the first time in this streak that I truly, truly didn't want to go. And, honestly, I felt as though I simply didn't care if the streak ended there.

But Jerry told me: "You can do what you want, but I think if you don't go, you'll regret it. Just go do some thing."

So, I did the bare minimum: a 1 miler. Haven't pulled that out since July 4th, so I suppose it was acceptable to do so, and I have that bare minimum in place for days just like the one I had yesterday: In case of emergency, a 1 miler keeps the streak alive.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Girls Weekend

First of all, thanks for all of the encouraging comments on my last post. They were appreciated! I heard back from the student who had the seizure, and she let me know that she had been released from the hospital the evening of the incident and that she was recuperating just fine. So, that was a relief.

As for the rest of my weekend, it was just Norah and I since Jerry was out of town for a "man weekend" with his friends. So, what kind of exciting things did we do? Went to the park and ran errands during the day on Saturday, and then Saturday evening we went to a BBQ that the dean of my department was hosting. That was fun, and Norah got to hob-nob with all of my colleagues, and she was very good, especially considering that I kept her up past her bedtime.

Then, today, we went to a birthday pool party, and Norah had tons of fun. Our friends' backyard is pretty much the 1 year old's equivilent of Disneyland -- they have a pool, a kiddie pool, a playhouse, a swingset, and a water table. So, here's Norah enjoying the b-day party fun:

We actually just got home from that, and now Norah is crashed out for a nap -- cross your fingers it's a long one because she needs it! Despite the weekend's fun, she has been recovering from a cold, and she hasn't been sleeping well at night; last night, in particular, was rough for both of us. She was up at 11, 1, 4, 5, and then up for good at 7. No bueno.

On the running front, I ran a quick 3 miler Friday afternoon while she was at daycare (especially quick for me these days -- I finished in 28:26, and considering that I went at 2:30 pm and the temps were in the mid-90s, that's not shabby). Then, she and I went for a short 3 miler yesterday morning. And today? Well, I wasn't feeling "up" to a run earlier this morning after our rather disruptive night of sleep, but Jerry returns home this afternoon, so this evening I plan on getting out for a solo run, and I'd like to do about 6 miles