Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I'm loving this week...

Hi, everyone! How have you been? It's been an up and down month for me, but I am here, I am alive and I am mostly well!

I'm participating in Jamie's What I'm Loving Wednesday today. Go check out her blog, she's sweet, adorable and expecting her first baby!

  • The shoes I found at Younkers yesterday for 18 bucks. SCORE!
  • The fact that my ADORABLE cousins are in town from Oklahoma. Aren't they the cutest? 
  • That one of my four classes (yes, four) ends this week and another one ends after next week. June. Has. Been. A. Blur.
  • This weekend I am headed to my second home, Kansas City (I lived there from 2004-2007). Sadly, I will not be participating in the Color Run though :( 
  • The fact that NONE of the members from Books 'n Bars have read the book this month, including me. Okay, I'm not loving that, but I am definitely laughing at it! We're still meeting if you're interested though. Happy hour at Buzzard Billy's. All is welcome. :)
  • The fact that I won't cry over the opposite sex, but I do cry when a close friend says, "I'm proud of you."(for standing up for myself)
  • That I have Jayme keeping me motivated and I have done Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred for 10 days now! I can already feel stronger, and I think level 2 is going to make a difference. (as long as I don't "phone" it in) ;) 
  • My adolescent lit professor. She is simply awesome. I am actually really sad the class is ending next week. 
  • Lexi showin' her "fangs". (She's really not mean, she can just "look" mean!)

What are you loving this week? 

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This summer I am taking an adolescent literature class, and within the first night of the class, I knew I was going to love it. Hell, I knew I was going to love it without even seeing the syllabus or book list. But, when I did see the reading list, I really did love it.

So far in the past two weeks we have read...
  • Forever
  • Then Again, Maybe I Won't
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Seventeenth Summer
...and for next week we are reading Speak (great book, definitely re-reading it), Inexcusable and Imani All Mine. The reading levels each week are definitely intense, but I think I would be disappointed if we were reading less. Plus, they're YA, so they are pretty quick reads.

For yesterday we had to have The Perks of Being a Wallflower done, and I am only sad that I didn't read this book sooner. It was FANTASTIC. Seriously, so good.

The book is written in epistolary format and the narrator is Charlie, a high school freshman that doesn't "participate" and is described as a wallflower. Charlie is a little quirky, a little awkward and extremely smart. Except, he doesn't really realize anything positive about himself. He's not intelligent in an I'm-A-Nerd-And-I-Know-I'm-Smart cocky kind of way. He's more just floating through life, trying to survive and trying figure out where he belongs. Or, trying to "participate" like his favorite teacher encourages him to do.

This book is not for the faint of heart. There are many issues that teens today face that I found heartbreaking. Some issues are not explicit either. Sometimes when things I happen I found myself stopping and thinking, "did that really just happen?!" There is a lot left to the imagination here, and I really like that.

Since reading this book, I have looked up the movie trailer and I think it looks great.... but, I also think it's one of those movies where the book accompanies the movie. Similar to One Day, with that the movie and book complemented each other. I think it will be the same with Wallflowers. Also, the author is directing the movie, so ... if it's completely different, then he will have completely sold out and I will hate him. (Dramatic, eh?)

Bottom line, if you don't read the book before seeing the movie I will be seriously shaking my head at your idiocy.

This will be a great book to suggest for book clubs, and I'm definitely suggesting it for mine! Although I borrowed my copy from the library I am definitely going to be buying it soon. I can see myself rereading it, and I can also see myself encouraging students to read it. (If I can. It's a regularly banned book. Sad.)

Happy reading, everyone. I hope you had a great week! 

Today I am linking up with Heather at Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Mistakes of a Running Rookie

I made a few rookie mistakes in the past few months as I got ready for Dam to Dam. Luckily, I am surrounded by some pretty novice runners that have been such an amazing resource. I am so thankful for these people!

Here is what I felt were some mistakes I made during training and during the race...
  • Fuel during the race. I've never brought along food or really thought about it! Luckily, I think Emily knew this was going to happen and she had some extra packets of GU for me. She suggested taking them at miles 4 and 8. Well, I forgot, and didn't remember until mile 5. So, as soon as there was a water station I took a walk break and ate GU... it felt like eating hair gel, but I think the GU saved my life. (ok, that was dramatic. It helped a lot!). Then I took the second packet at mile 8ish. Why I did that so early is beyond me. Looking back, I wish I would have waited and maybe I would have finished the race a little stronger.
  • Fuel before the race. I carb loaded just fine, but I ate so much at dinner the night before that I just couldn't choke down food in the morning! When I get really nervous or stressed out, my appetite is non existent. The thought of eating when I'm super nervous or stressed makes me feel sick. I made toast with peanut butter and brought it with me to hopefully eat on the bus, but even then, I just couldn't eat it. I thought I would be sick! Luckily, now that I have been through this once, I don't think I will ever be that nervous about a race again. 
  • Caffeine? Yep, caffeine. I didn't think about the massive caffeine headache I would endure after the race due to no pop or coffee the day of or the day before. I drank coffee the day before, but I didn't coffee the day of. Not for any specific reason, I just didn't have time because it was flippin' 5am. Silly me didn't realize that my headache after the race was due to a caffeine deficiency until about late Sunday afternoon. I thought I was dehydrated and began chugging as much water as I could again. I thought my head was going to pound right off, it hurt so bad. (How sad is this, by the way?! My body is that addicted to caffeine! I suppose there are worse things, but... sheesh.)
  • Good SHOES! We all know about this one. I had a pair of old shoes and just didn't want to shell out the money for new ones. I am so glad I did and I will push just about anyone now to invest in good shoes if they are considering running regularly.
Other than these, I think I did pretty well. I asked a lot of questions of the people around me and felt really ready for this race. 

What rookie mistakes did you make before your big race? Are you training for anything now? 

(PS: ALPITC is not going to turn into a running blog... promise. But, considering I had so much fun, I think you will be hearing more about it in the months to come. Watch for an update on the classes I'm taking this summer later this week - including adolescent lit!)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Little Running in the Cornfields

Saturday morning I crossed another item off my life bucket list:
- Run a long distance race!

I completed the 33rd annual Dam-to-Dam 20K here in Des Moines on Saturday and I had the best time! Below I have documented my thoughts of the before, during, and after the race.


{Shannon, me, Kristi and Angie - spending the evening before the race with them was PERFECT}

The night before the race I met up with three of my closest friends for a night of carbs and great conversation at Bravo! Which, is an Italian chain restaurant located at Jordan Creek. I had chicken scaloppini and it was delicious! We also devoured four mini desserts (yes, I said four!) and by the time I left I was stuffed. By 8pm I was getting extremely antsy because I wanted to be in bed by 9pm and I still had to get all my race stuff laid out and ready. My alarm was set to go off between 3:45 and 4AM and I wanted to make sure I got at least five hours of sleep. 

{The obligatory picture of race day gear laid out the night before ;) }
Throughout the entire day I drank a little over a gallon of water, and the entire week before the race I ate very clean and didn’t drink any alcohol at all. Although, at dinner, I was craving a glass of red wine, and I did splurge on that. I don’t think it hurt me at all, in fact, I think it helped me sleep once I got home!

I'm so glad I had this group of girls with me; they were so encouraging and supportive! Plus, there was another girl about our age eating dinner next to us and she overheard our conversation and joined in. She was also so nice and encouraging, I'm continuously blown away by how supportive the running community is. Each and every runner has really made me feel like they truly believe that anyone can do this sport if they are willing and able!

Early, early Saturday morning I got up, headed into downtown Des Moines, and met Emily at her apartment, and Kiara. We headed down the street to catch one of the many, many buses that were headed the 12.4 miles north to Saylorville Dam. I knew there would be a lot of people, over 8,000 were registered, but it didn't completely register with me how big it would be until I was there. Immediately my adrenaline started pumping, and I wasn't really nervous anymore, I was just ready to get started!

 {To the left are the buses waiting downtown to take us to the Dam, to the right are the buses, full, waiting to drop us off!}

We all piled into the bus and it felt like were on the bus for SO LONG. There were so many buses! Once we got off the bus, dropped our bags and peed, we headed up to the road above the Saylorville Dam and began to look for Alexson, our other friend (and fellow DSM blogger) that was running the race as well. We finally found her and then almost immediately the gun went off and we about to cross the start line! We were back with the 11:00 pacers, so we didn’t really start running until about 10 minutes after the gun start. I had to keep reminding myself that my chip time was more than 10 minutes behind the times posted every so often on the course.

 {Alexson and I at the start}
 {Kiara, Emily, me and Alexson - definitely one of my favorite pictures from the race!}
{If you look REALLY close you can see some small tall buildings. That's downtown Des Moines, AKA: where we were running to}


Going into the race I stuck with my strategy that worked so well during training, a 10:3 run to walk ratio. During training I had hoped to reduce that amount of walking, but it was just working so well for me, that I felt like I should just continue to do it. During the race on more than one occasion when my 10 minutes of running were up, I either felt like I could keep running or I was on a large decline and the running felt "easy" so several times I just kept running and I’m pretty happy with myself because I know I pushed myself harder than I ever had before.

The first 10K of the race were all country and cornfields. It was gorgeous and I really loved it! The last 10Kof the race was all urban city, and this area of town really pumped me up and gave me a super big high, because it was the neighborhood I grew up in! As soon as I really began to take notice of where we were and saw Aurora Avenue, I almost felt tears sting my eyes, because it just felt so cool to have already run that far! At this point I began texting my parents where I was, because they live off Penn (not too far from the Des Moines River) and I knew they were watching the race.

Running down 6th Avenue was probably one of my favorite legs of the race. Not only was it a huge decline (and also another moment where I kept running after my 10 minute bout was up) but it went right by North High School, their stadium (where I played my last soccer game ever) and down underneath the bridge by the Des Moines River. Growing up we lived in North district (I open enrolled to East) and my sister went to North as well as many of my childhood friends, so I spent a lot of time in that area.

The race went extremely well until between miles 9 and 10. At this point I hit a major wall and just couldn't keep up with my 10-minute spurts of running. I was really disappointed in myself because the first 9-10 miles was so nice! I was holding a pace below 11 minutes (barely, it was almost 12:00) and I had never been that fast! Unfortunately, by the end of the race, I had walked so much, my pace was over 13:00 minutes by the time I was done. I just completely pooped out! Plus, my legs hurt so badly. The only time they didn't hurt was while I was running, but I was just too tired to keep running! It was an odd feeling.


Grudgingly, I did run the last 800 meters and finished the race running, and happy, although as I crossed the finish line I was quite disoriented. I don't really remember someone shoving a medal into my hand and I think I carried it for a long time before actually putting it on! After I finished it was such a cluster of people that I didn't know how I was going to find my group! I gave up pretty quickly and plopped down in the grass in the sculpture park to stretch. Right after that I got a text from Emily with their location - by the chocolate milk!

 {Emily and I relaxing after the race}

I grabbed two chocolate milks, and drank them so fast I felt like I was going to be sick, we sat down for a minute and then we were off to find my bag. It was such a madhouse in that area and navigating was such a mess! I just wanted to sit back down! Luckily, we headed over to the front of the library (on the Grand side) and sat there for a while watching the youth races and waiting for my friend Anna, who ran the 5K with her finance. Finally they found us and we sat, talked and just relaxed for a little while. After saying goodbye to them, Emily and I just wanted to go home. I was really surprised with myself about not wanting a beer or more food or any celebrating yet. I really just wanted to go home! 

 {Anna and I after the race}
Once I got home, I took care of the dogs (which was humorous as I was hobbling all around), took a shower and immediately got in bed. I spent the rest of the day in bed before meeting my parents out at Pagliai's Pizza for dinner and then to meet some friends out for a couple drinks. I was just not feeling social AT ALL and really just wanted to go to bed. I was practically choking down beer and it didn’t taste good at all! I figured I should listen to my body and not force it. I went home and I'm pretty sure I was passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. 

{My first medal!}

Overall, I had a fantastic time! I love the feeling of knowing I pushed myself and that I worked so hard to get up to this level of ability. It's amazing to me that less than a year ago I could barely run one mile without feeling like dying and yesterday I ran 12.4 miles. I may have felt like dying (sort of) but I was still smiling. :) 

I'm definitely planning on training for a half this fall. I just need to figure out which one! 

Friday, June 1, 2012


Wow. Friday! This week went extremely fast.

To be honest, I would have been just fine if this week went by slowly. Saturday is Dam to Dam and I will be running my first distance race.
12.4 miles. The largest 20 kilometer race in America.


Several times since deciding to do this I have thought to myself, "I can't do this. I should probably drop back down to the 5K." Then I'll go out for a run and I'll feel strong and like I could keep going and going and going...

I felt this way until I hurt my hip a couple of weeks ago. I don't know what I did, but from what other runners say, it's a pretty common injury. I took a few days off to let it heal, and that seemed to do the trick. I still missed quite a bit of my training schedule between the injury, the craziness of the end of the semester and a couple of my long runs not going well.

I keep telling myself it will be fine. I can always walk, and I will. I have a feeling I will end up walking quite a bit of the race and really, that is OKAY! My only goal is to finish the race within 3 hours because I want a medal! So... basically I need to get in at about 4 miles per hour. Totally doable, right!!??

I have scoured last years results to see where I will probably be for time so I can reassure myself I won't be dead last. Is it every racers nightmare to be the last person across the line? I know it's mine. I know that won't happen because it's such a walker friendly race, but still... the thought is there. And, it's taunting me.

The night before a group of my girlfriends and I are going out to Bravo to carbo load, I'm really glad I have had their support. They've been very supportive and extremely encouraging. It will be nice to spend dinner with them and have friends around me to pump me up. I'm hoping it's an early night though. We have to be downtown by 5am to catch the bus to Saylorville Dam, so this means my alarm will probably be going off at 4:00 AM. Yikes.

Hopefully when I am back on Monday I will be posting a happy race report!!! 

Here's the route for anyone that's interested! (I think it's hilarious that I will be running about a block from my parents house, I've always wanted to run in that neighborhood, so that's cool!)