Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Club Friday!

Hello, Friday!

Hope your weekend is starting off better than mine. Yesterday I got some really shocking news and am still reeling from it a little bit, but... things will be okay. As much as I hate the saying "Everything happens for a reason," I do believe it's true.

I just kinda want to punch anyone that says it or slap myself when it crosses my mind. 

Anyway. On to Book Club Friday! This weekly feature is hosted by Heather and is one of my favorite weeklies in the blog world (shocking, I know).

I am still in the middle of five books (yes, FIVE) and it's driving me nuts. Three are for grad school and two are for fun. The two for fun (because, let's face it, they're the most interesting) are 11/22/63 (still) and Life of Pi. 

Life of Pi is for Books 'n Bars and we meet next week to discuss, so I thought I would talk about it now. I am only about halfway through it, but I expect to finish it this weekend. I have to admit I found the first part a bit dull, but now that I'm further into it... I cannot put it down or stop thinking about it.

The book is about a sixteen year old boy name Pi who's family owns and operates a zoo in India. They decide to move across the world to escape the uncertainty of India and sell most of the animals to zoos in North America. They board a ship with most of the animals bound for North America and...

...then the ship sinks.

All that is left is Pi, a bengal tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan on a lifeboat. Eventually, the group dwindles further and all that is left is Pi and the tiger, who's name is Richard Parker. 

The story is so far captivating, educational and sometimes gory. The author does not hold back and the amount I have learned about animals and their prey is pretty astounding. I'm not sure how they will do this on the big screen, but I am very excited to find out!

Definitely pick this book up if you're looking for something a little different to read, and if you're in the area and would like to join us for Books 'n Bars please contact me for more information. We would love to have you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On being proud...

I felt a little silly putting my splits from the half up here on Monday, I mean, they're nothing to brag about, RIGHT? I averaged over a 12 minute pace, which compared to so many other runners, is a pretty average to slow pace.

But, wait, they ARE something to be proud of. Why would I compare myself to other bloggers/runners that have way more experience on me? Why wouldn't I put them up on the blog to share? That does not make sense and is the fast track to dragging myself down.

Sure, averaging a better pace is something to work towards, but feeling bad about my pace or, worse, hiding it and not talking about it at all, ruins the experience for me. I love sharing this with experience on here and, better yet, documenting the experience so I can remember all of the details. I'm a pretty numbers driven person, so not analyzing the data from races is something I just don't think I can avoid (although I did for quite a long time!)

I was emailing back and forth with Stephany on Monday and she complimented me for putting those numbers up there. She mentioned how we see so many 8-9 minute pacers in the blog world, and, although that is great, it was refreshing to see a beginning runner put their splits up for once.

This conversation really made me feel better. After I hit publish on my race recap, I felt really anxious. What would people think? Would they wonder why I was putting up those numbers up? Would they smirk, considering me an imposter and not a real runner?

Seriously! How ridiculous are those thoughts?! They're pointless, and stupid.

The good thing is, I realize how absurd they are. I realize how silly that was to think that way, and as soon as I began to think, "why did I put those numbers out there for everyone to see???" I thought....

"....because it's reality. That's why." 

I have not met a single veteran runner that is NOT encouraging and motivating. Every single runner I have come across has been so motivating and helpful. Never once have I got the feeling that I couldn't do it or that this sport required some special natural talent that I might not have.

I'm not sure what I will do next yet, but I do know that long distance races are not in my near future. I do want to do some more smaller races, maybe some 10k's and lots of 5k's. I want to keep running, and so far training for something has kept me motivated, so I'm a little nervous about not having something to train for. I will have to figure out what to do keep myself out there and running.

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments on my last post! They really made my day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

More running in the cornfields...

Whispering: You guys... I ran 13.1 miles yesterday.

I cannot believe I have completed my first half marathon.

It was technically my second long distance race, but the race I did earlier this spring was Dam to Dam and it was 12.4 miles just shy of a full half marathon, making yesterday's half,  my first half marathon!

Going into the race I had planned to run my typical ten minute intervals like I do all my long runs, but lately I have been running my short runs during the week without stopping to walk. We started the race and I figured I would just run the first three miles or so and see how I feel... after ten minutes passed I didn't feel like stopping at all. Then twenty minutes passed, and thirty, forty, fifty, sixty...all the way up to 2:10....  and I was still running! After I got to mile 7 and didn't stop, I began to think this could be either the smartest thing I have ever done... or the dumbest.

I was worried I was dumping too much into the beginning of the race and the second half would suck. I told myself at mile 10, I could stop and walk, but mile 10 came and I still didn't want to stop (go ahead, make the Forrest Gump jokes. I was thinkin' it too!)

I barely stopped for water (which bit me in the ass later) until mile 11. This was when I stopped to walk and drink water and eat an orange. I tried to get going again and find my groove like before but I just couldn't get moving. As soon as I stopped to walk, it seemed out of "nowhere" all the ache and soreness seemed to appear. I walked most of mile 11 and then for the last mile I ran.

Looking back, I did not drink enough water during the race. I took water with both GU packets, but barely any at all. My stomach was upset and the water and and GU was NOT helping. The entire race I was just focusing on how it was FINE and I did not need to stop and use the bathroom.... 

Here's how it all split out for me:

Mile 1: 11:38
Mile 2: 9:56 (no idea why this was so fast. Must have felt really good here!)
Mile 3: 11:40
Mile 4: 11:43
Mile 5: 12:21
Mile 6: 12:19
Mile 7: 11:39
Mile 8: 12:06
Mile 9: 12:39
Mile 10: 12:40
Mile 11: 12:32
Mile 12: 12:36
Mile 13: 14:04
Mile 14: 11:28

You might be wondering why I go through to mile 14. Well, I use the app Runkeeper (if you're on there, come be my friend!) and it said I ran almost 14 miles, so I'm not sure about that... but you can see  that 14 minute mile where I stopped to walk. It was actually mile 11 and then I picked it back up for mile 12. 

I really had such a good time, and I am incredibly proud of myself. For Dam to Dam (which was in June) I ran 12.4 miles in 2:50 and I hit a major wall at mile 9. I could not go anymore and I walked the rest of the way. For this half marathon I finished at 2:47 (10 minutes over my goal, but that is OKAY) and I am so incredibly proud that I ran the first 11 miles. I am in shock that I could keep going and so overjoyed with that feat! It is a little heartbreaking that I was just shy of running the entire thing, but considering I did not think running the entire thing was *ever* a possibility, I will absolutely take 11! 

Last fall when I was taking the PE Methods class I struggled to run ONE mile in under 13 minutes. A year later and I just ran 11 of them in a row at around a 12 minute average. Isn't that insane?! I am so in awe at what we can do when we put our minds to it and I am so grateful I have this ability. I will never take it for granted again.

I have so much to recap from this weekend, so I promise I will be back this week with a very picture heavy post recapping more about the half, my weekend with Lisa and much more!

Oh, and the headline is deceiving.... we did not see a single cornfield on this course. ;)

Friday, October 12, 2012


Hello, Friday!

On Wednesday, it occurred to me about midday that it was, in fact, the middle of the week already and I immediately thought (and almost said out loud), "WTF?"

(And seriously, my mouth has been terrible lately. Considering I work with kids, I'm pretty good at keeping it clean, but lately... Oy. Constant sailor talk in my head).

So, Wednesday has come and gone, Thursday came and went almost just as fast and now it is Friday! Today I'm subbing at a local high school in English (woot, woot! Fave subject!) and then this weekend I have some pretty low key plans... Planned Parenthood book sale Saturday morning while working with a client, a six mile (or so) run, Sunday Funday watching football at Buffalo Wild Wings and possibly seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower at Fleur Cinema (it is FINALLY out in Des Moines this weekend. Finally.)

I like weekends like that. Just busy enough!

Ok, that intro was longer than I intended. It has been way too long since I have linked up for Heather's Book Club Friday, which is probably because I do not have time to read. I have been "reading" 11/22/63 since September 27th and am just barely past page 300 (yikes). I have one class that has an insane amount of reading to do and all of the reading is dense and extremely dry. It's been kiiiilllling me.

I did however make time to read Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio last weekend because it came in at the library and I could not wait to pick it up. I ADORED The Violets of March and The Bungalow, so I have been on pins and needles waiting for this one.

It did not disappoint.

Sarah Jio tells the best stories in the most historically rich eras. I adore historical fiction, and although this is not technically historical fiction, the story is told through two different time periods. I love reading books like this and visualizing the parallel lives during two very different time periods. Sarah Jio nails it every time and creates characters you cannot help but adore.

This is one of those books I would recommend if you're looking for light fiction that you can lost in and devour in a relatively short period of time (and I would say that about all three of her books!).

From Goodreads:

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways...

What have you read lately that I should add to my TBR list??

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Racing... alone?

If there is one thing I have learned about myself since taking up running, I have learned that I am motivated by races.

It's not necessarily the actual race and the thrill of my time placing somewhere along side other runners, it is more along the lines of the social atmosphere that comes with the race.

I like getting up early and meeting runner friends at the site. I like going out the night before to carb load, and to trade stories during training. I guess you could said I like the comradery that comes with racing.

Earlier this year I made a goal for myself to run "12 in '12." Twelve races for the 2012 year, inspired by Kyria. Since the beginning of the year I have ran 5 races and I am not sure if I will make it to all 12, but if I don't make it, I will be very, very close. (honestly, a major fact is the cost. It adds up!)

My question is, clearly I like to make racing a very social event. I like to run races with other people, and although I do not mind doing things alone, I do not really prefer it. I have not stopped to really consider running a race (like a 5K, something small) alone. Until today. I was reading through Runner's World, one of my newest running obsessions, and I saw a post about running a Thanksgiving 5K. That was something I always wanted to do, but then I thought, wait? Who would run that with me?

Now, why did I just think that??

The funny thing is, when I am actually running and training, I would rather run by myself. I hate the feeling of holding somebody back, and it is something I am sure I will get over with time (and as I get faster) but for now, but I enjoy running by myself or with Zeke.

So now, my question is why do I not go ahead and sign up for races? Why am I waiting for others to do it first?

Do you make running social? Do you tend to run races with other people or sign up alone? 

PS: the half marathon is 11 days away. After that, I promise my posts will not be laced with *everything running*

Monday, October 8, 2012

On Friday I took the day off of subbing and I attended the American Heart Association's "Go Red For Women" Luncheon and I had such a great time meeting other bloggers, listening to women's stories and testimonials and learning more about spreading awareness about heart health!

 Me, Nicole and Brianne sporting some stylish RED gear!

Listening to other women tell their own stories got me thinking about my own. I may be young (and look even younger) but it is NEVER too early to begin thinking about your health and being a healthy role model for my kids (students and my own) someday is something that I take very seriously. How can I expect my kids to live a healthy lifestyle if I am not modeling that for them?

Last year about this time I took one of the many methods courses to obtain my elementary education degree and one of them was the PE/Health Methods course. I took this class early because I knew we had to do the fitness test several times throughout the semester, which included running that dreaded mile. On the second night of class we ran the mile, timed one minute of push-ups and one minute of sit ups. We had the option of using Drake University's state of the art scale that measures body fat and muscle. On this night I realized that taking this class early was a blessing and not only did I get it done early, it made me realize what an unhealthy life I was living.

My mile was horrible. I struggled to run it in 13 minutes and I finished right at 13:13. This was not too surprising, and although it was a slap in the face, I was expecting it. Now skip ahead to the end of the class that day when my body fat was measured, and that was when the real wake up call happened. I know women are supposed to have more fat than men, but when I received my percentage all I wanted to do was cry (and I did).

Luckily, I was alone with the professor (who is a woman only a few years older than me and someone that I have come to find so inspiring and I just adore her). Luckily, she was so sympathetic and so nice about it. Never once did I feel judgement from her about not leading a very active life. (Yes, I am "active" as in I did not sit at a desk every day, and my career before education was on my feet all day, but I did not make fitness a big priority at all).

I was in denial about how healthy I was, and living life like things were fine. Actually, things were not fine. I have a history of diabetes AND heart problems in my family and taking care of myself physically is not an option if I want to prevent these diseases.

From the luncheon I learned that 80% of coronary heart disease is preventable and one in four women will die each year from heart disease. Although both men and women have heart attacks, women are more likely to die from a heart attack.

The facts are pretty scary.

There are SO many small things we can do to prevent heart disease. Of course, being overweight does make you more susceptible to heart disease and increases your chance of getting type 2 diabetes, but acknowledging this about yourself is the first step. Like myself, I was in denial and sometimes it takes a very stark realization to make you wake up and change your lifestyle.

Try walking. Walking is the best exercise with the lowest drop out rate and is absolutely an acceptable method of exercise. I read a study once that researched habits of people that were a healthy weight and people that were overweight. They found that the healthy weight group walked more in their everyday life. Park far away from the door, take the stairs, go for a 10 minute walk on your lunch break. Every little bit helps.

And it will be worth it in the end.

Find out what motivates you. For me, it started out that I did not want to be a bad example for the kids in my life. Today, it is still that, but it has turned into so much more! I hope you figure it out, too!

What keeps you motivated to stay healthy (besides the obvious reasons)? Have you ever had a wake up call like I did during PE Methods?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New habits are... good for your brain?

Hey, hey, heeeeyyyy... Ya'll get me twice in one week. Don't you feel special?

(you totally should) 

Tonight I bought new running shoes, and as I left the store (which was Kyle's Bike's and Running Store in Ankeny and I got Brooks instead of Asics this time. Thoughts?) I was reflecting on how many new things I have learned this year. Willingly, I have picked up at least two new hobbies and I am starting a new hobby this semester...

So, obviously the first hobby is running. I can honestly say that I loved running when I was training for Dam to Dam. This time around training + grad school + trying to work 30 hours a week = insanity. But, I do still like running and I do still want to continue the hobby.

The other hobby is knitting (I'm pretty horrid at it right now, but I'll get better). I took a class at Hill Vintage and Knits and I really like it! I wanted to learn so I can (obviously) make cool stuff and hopefully someday teach my own children.

The third hobby is chess. Yes, chess. Why chess? Well, let me tell you.

This semester I am working with the I Have a Dream Foundation here in Des Moines and helping with an after school program at Callanan Middle School. These kids are some pretty serious chess players (and if you're familiar with Des Moines Public Schools and aware of the demographics at this school, that is a pretty spectacular skill these 7th graders possess!)

Wednesday was our first day of the program and I knew going into it that learning to play chess was going to help me get an "in" with these kids. I immediately asked one of the kids to teach me all they knew about the game. I am not-so-good so far, but I not-so-much caring because I'm learning and I will get better with time! I'm really excited to be working this group of kids and for THEM to teach ME something!

So, there you have it. Running, knitting and chess playing! Hey, learning new things and creating new habits is good. It creates new neural pathways in the brain which keeps your brain strong and healthy and .... I'll stop geeking out here. ;)

What new skill have you learned this year? What is one hobby that you have always wanted to start, but just have not gotten around to?

PS: I will totally be back with a review of the Brooks running shoes. I learned quite a bit at the running store tonight - including the fact that I was in shoes an entire SIZE TOO SMALL. Thanks, Scheels.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Remember me?

Heeeeyyyyy! How are you guys? Are there any of you left?? ;)

I'm still here and kickin' although, I am not kicking very hard. I'm exhausted and that is a little scary because it is ONLY the beginning of October. I have 2.5 more months of this to go. Of course some weeks are worse than others, and last week was baaaad. This week has been okay so far. I'm hoping that I can get a little caught up in the next week or so. I'm not behind. I'm just right on time and doing pretty much everything that is due (for school and sometimes work) the night before or the day of. I like to be a bit more ahead than that!

Anway! On to what is going on with me... And, yeah it will be in bullet format.
  • I am still training for the half marathon, which is on October 21st. I'm a little concerned about WHY I am doing it and even today while I was doing my 10 mile long run I was questioning my motives and unsure why. A good friend of mine had a long talk with me on Sunday (because I skipped/rescheduled my long run) about my training and how bad I am doing at it. The talk helped... but I'm still unsure if I really like this season of training. In fact, no, I don't know why I just typed that. I am not enjoying this season of training. I'm just too damn busy. It's been really difficult prioritizing. After this season I am going to have to start paring down my goals and think of something smaller to work towards. Maybe improving my 5K time? Or a yoga challenge? Suggestions? 
  • Speaking of running. Color Run is this weekend! I am so excited!!! We registered back in June or July and it feels like so long ago! I cannot wait to share the experience and post pictures!
  • Last week we had our 17th Books 'n Bars meeting! I've really slacked with keeping the Books 'n Bars updates current, but it is still going strong! 
  • This weekend one of my friends from grad school is having a "Heathers" brunch at her house and I'm so excited for this time with some of my new favorite people! She's having bloody mary's and mimosas and we're watching Heathers (which I have never seen. Don't shoot me.) I can't wait! 
So... that is pretty much it with me! I'm still surviving grad school, I'm still training for the half and I'm trying to keep my head above water.

How are you doing? What's new with you in your life?