Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good News/Bad News

Good news first: My foot has not broken again.

Whew.

On Monday, after re-reading my somewhat crazy-sounding last post (The Fine Line), I decided that what I needed to do was bite the proverbial bullet and just go to see Dr. Cutter and get the issue laid to rest for good. I called at 7:00 am and got an appointment to see the good doctor the next day at 2 pm.

Whenever I go to a doctor, I feel like they all think that I am a nutso hypochondriac (which, I do admit, might be a tiny bit true). I try to not sound that way, but inevitably showing up to a doctor and saying, "My foot hurts and I'm scared" probably does sound like an over-reaction. Me, overreact? Never. Anyway, I told him what was going on and he listened patiently, then pressed hard along all my foot bones to see if I jumped out of my skin (nope).

He asked me to demonstrate the yoga move that I think caused the first break and as soon as I did, he said, "Yup I can definitely see how you might have pulled something in your foot doing that! I don't think it's broken, I think you just over stretched something."

I must have looked dubious because his next question was, "Do you want me to take an X-Ray to ease your mind?"

YES. Duh.

10 minutes later, we are looking at my X-Rays when Dr. Cutter says my least favorite line ever: "Hmmm what is THAT?" while tracing a dark lateral line in my 4th metatarsal. "Hm. I think it's a nutrient vessel, but I have never seen one show up that prominently before! I think I need to get a consult."

Commence sweaty palms and elevated heart rate on my part as Dr. Cutter gets a radiologist on the phone and I hear only half of the conversation as they discuss this odd line in my X-Ray. After what seems like an eternity and an endless stream of "Okay.. okay... okay" Dr. Cutter hangs up and says, "We both agree that we don't think it's broken."

Yay... I think?

We also compared my October X-Ray to the current one and I finally saw with my own eyes that you really can't see the old break anymore. It's like it never happened. This small fact has already done wonders for my mental state.

So here comes the bad news, which is that I have been benched from running for another week, meaning that I am losing yet another long training run, meaning that I will have only one run of more than 6 miles under my belt before the Shamrock Half.

The other bad news is that if my foot still hurts by mid-week next week, Dr. Cutter wants an MRI.

All I see when he says that is $$$$$$$$.

But despite these things, I left feeling pretty relieved. Not surprisingly, my foot feels much better today,  yet again confirming that in most cases, my pain is completely mental and brought on by my own irrational worry.

I am my own worst enemy. But I always knew that.

Even though I'm bummed about being benched for a week, I am feeling pretty positive. I can still run the Shamrock Half. It won't be a PR and will probably be really ugly. But I will be able to do it and honestly, this little scare has reminded me again how incredibly thankful I should be that I can run at all.

Meanwhile, I'll spend the week cross training like a boss.

And I will calcify my damn bones into submission.



Oh yeah - and as much as it pains (bad pun alert!) me to say it, no more yoga.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Fine Line...

...between valid concern and irrational worry. That's where I've been dwelling for the past 24 hours.

Last night, as I massaged my still-sore foot, feeling along the bones and pushing on various spots, I said to Husband: "I can't tell if it is just the regular over-sensitivity in my feet or real pain. What do you think?"

Husband: "I think that you are probably creating real pain by insisting on prodding your overly-sensitive feet in an attempt to find something that is not there."

Hm.

This morning when I got up, I was not 100% pain free. But, I decided that I can't spend the rest of my life coddling a foot that may or may not break any second for no apparent reason. So, I decided to head to the Y to get on the treadmill and see what happened. I thought the Y would be the best idea for a number of reasons:

1. If I broke, there'd be plenty of people around to come to my aid.
2. If it bothered me too much to run, I could jump on the bike and at least get some form of exercise.
3. If everything was fine, I could just run the 8 on the treadmill. Though not fun, I have done it before.

I started nice and easy on the treadmill, at a 9:00 pace. Though it wasn't screaming at me, I was aware of my foot discomfort. At 1 mile, I stopped the treadmill and did some stretching, then got back on. After another 1.25 miles, my foot was singing. So again, I stopped and did some foot stretches and balanced on the Bosu ball. Back to the treadmill to round up to 3 miles, and then I quit.

Things improved on the bike, where I pedaled for 30 boring minutes. While on the bike, I was reading the latest edition of Runner's World - ironically enough, it's the Injury Prevention Special. Inside is an article on Chi Running. I've heard about Chi Running before, I think from SUAR. That was before I got injured, and I remember thinking that it was kind of bogus.

But of course that was then. In my now, I read the article. From what I could understand from the short 2 pages, Chi Running embraces many of the things that I've already heard time and again from Steve: concentrating on soft footfalls, leading with the hips, striking mid foot, and keeping the cadence high.

When I finished my time on the bike, I was feeling a bit more confident and decided to get on a treadmill to test some of the tenants of Chi Running. Keeping my cadence high and steps short, I felt ok for about half a mile and then became aware of the foot again, so quit once I had clocked an additional mile.

So, I got in 4 miles of stop-and-go running and 7 miles on the bike.

Better than nothing, I guess.

Right now, my foot is still feeling odd. I can't exactly say that it is painful... it's just... weird. Uncomfortable. I'm acutely aware  of it.

I'm not sure which side of the fine line I'm sitting on at the moment. Last night, I was thinking that 90% of this is irrational worry. Irrational worry is, in fact, one of my specialties. But this evening, I think it's more like 50% valid concern, 50% irrational worry.

The plan is to swim tomorrow, rest on Tuesday, and attempt a run on the vita course on Wednesday.

If it is still weird  after that, then I think I need to return to my least favorite place... Dr. Cutter.

Le sigh.

I'm going to go eat some cookies now.


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Doubt Monster

After yesterday's TIBT, you can all probably tell I'm not exactly in a sunny, happy place at the moment.

One reason is something I don't really want to talk about here.

Another reason is this: my foot hurts. Big time.

And I am terrified.

Last week, I decided to test the waters and go back to yoga again. The class went fine and the next day, my foot actually felt better than it had in a long time.

After that success, I went back to yoga again this past Tuesday. This week's class was much more intense and included the pose that I was doing when my foot started hurting for the first time back in August. I did the pose, but I did not push anything and was extremely tentative with it.

That night, my foot hurt... and I knew that I had made a mistake. Not the part that was broken, mind you, but the outer edge and heel. This is exactly the same kind of pain I had in the days leading up to the break.

On Wednesday, it hurt. I was supposed to run 4 miles, but I opted to plant myself on the stationary bike instead.

Yesterday it was a little bit sore. I decided to do a part pavement, part vita course run with Prabir. By the end of the 4.5 miles, it hurt. Flat out hurt.

I spent all of last night scared, frustrated, and worried. I massaged my foot. I iced it, even though cold really makes it hurt these days (the fact that I have a cold-sensitive limb makes me feel like I'm 80). I walked around on my toes, trying to convince myself that it didn't hurt. I balanced on my bosu ball.

It still hurts today.

This weekend, I am supposed to do an 8 miler. But right now, I am seriously doubting that it will happen. There will be no work out at all tonight, and none tomorrow either. If it is pain-free on Sunday, I might attempt it.

Might.

Truth is, I am completely terrified. Yup, I've used the word twice now. Because it's true.

Is it breaking again? Have I just screwed myself?

Why is this happening to me after I had such an awesome run last weekend... right when I got my confidence back?

Will I ever not be afraid again?

I'm telling myself that if I can't run the 8 miler this weekend it's no big deal. I still have 2 more scheduled long runs before the half marathon. I don't need to PR at Shamrock, I just want to finish. Eight little missed miles won't hurt me that much. Certainly much less than another re-broken foot would.

Right?

So, you can probably see why this is playing into me feeling so powerless right now. Even if I do what I'm supposed to, if I listen to Steve, if I run 3 days a week and never two days in a row,  if I fill my off days with cross training and core strengtheners, I am at the mercy of my apparently frail foot bones. Foot bones that can just decide to snap and sent me headlong into a black pit of despair in the form of crutches, a boot, and probably the end of my long distance running career.

Screw you, foot bones.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Things I Believe Thursday XV

I believe that there is nothing worse than being reminded that we are all essentially powerless.

I am a control freak (or try to be). 90% of the time, I live in a fantasy world where what happens to me and around me can somehow be influenced and/or controlled by me.

Right now, my delusions are shattered. I feel that it matters not a fig how much I plan and plot or how much I try to do what I should to prevent X or make X happen. Major forces that impact my life are completely out of my realm of control. There is nothing that I can do but sit and watch (while stuffing my face with the closest available junk food. This morning that was a Dixie Donut, leftover from yesterday).

It makes me feel crazy, insignificant, and terrified all at the same time. And I hate it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bonjour, Bloggers!

This morning I had the distinct pleasure of meeting up with two Richmond-area bloggers in real life (!): Kelly of Austen Hill and author Karen A. Chase.

The reason for our meeting was quite exciting: a month or so ago, Karen and Kelly teamed up to give away a signed copy of Karen's memoir, Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log: (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds.) and by some miracle, I won! When we realized that all three of us are in Richmond, we decided to arrange a coffee date to exchange the book and chat about our shared love of Paris.

I had discovered Bonjour 40 at least a year ago, though I can't remember exactly how. No doubt I was trolling Amazon in search of books about Paris during one of my "Sigh, I Miss Paris" periods when I came across Bonjour 40.

I quickly downloaded the eBook and devoured it in two days. I tried very hard to restrict myself and tell myself to slow down and savor every minute, but I just couldn't do it. As I read, I was so excited to find that the things that Karen loved about Paris were many of the same things that I love. Little non-touristy things that we had both discovered and cherished. And we shared something else: both of us live in Richmond. I felt like I had found a kindred spirit.

Prior to December 2012, Bonjour 40 was only available in eBook format. While I loved every word of the eBook, I longed to see Karen's photos from her time there and to have something real to hold. I was so happy when Karen announced that she was publishing a hard copy of Bonjour 40 and looked forward to its publish date, determined to obtain a copy for myself as soon as possible. I was shocked and thrilled when I won and even more excited to have the opportunity to meet Kelly and Karen.

I ask you, what better place to meet to sigh over Paris than Carytown's Can Can Brasserie?


Karen, Kelly, and I met at 8:30 over coffee and pastries (or in my case, a "Fragel" - french bread bagel - divine, I tell you!) and hit it off immediately. Conversation went from love of Paris to the merits of pretending (or being) Canadian to the best places to eat in Church Hill to book club selections to our respective library fine tabs. As we parted, we all declared that we see more coffee dates in our future.

It was a great start to my Wednesday and I feel so lucky to have been able to connect with two wonderful, talented ladies who live right here in Richmond.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Race Report: Love Rox 10k

This was the first year for the Love Rox Half Marathon & 10k, organized by Richmond Multisports. Basically, Richmond Multisports noticed that there is a dearth of races in Richmond between the Sportsbackers' two signature events - the Richmond Marathon/Half/8k in November and the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k in April - so they moved to fill it.

Last year, I participated in the Virginia is for Lovers 14k, which was a fun race, but it is in Virginia Beach. Racing in Virginia Beach required me to get a hotel room and drive a lot (not fun and expensive). When I started hearing rumblings about a Valentine's Day race in  Richmond, I got excited and as soon as the race was announced, I signed up for the 10k option. Marcey signed up too, as race #2 in her "Year of Running."

So, without further ado, I give you the Love Rox 10k race report.



Expo/Packet Pick Up - B-

This was a small race, so there was no Expo - only packet pick up. The window for packet pick up was very narrow: Friday between 3 pm and 7 pm and then morning of. Pre-race emails encouraged folks to pick up on Friday, so that is what I did... and ended up wasting a bunch of time trying to get to the pick up location, 3 Sports, which is in the River Road shopping center.

Anybody who lives in Richmond knows that getting to the River Road shopping center from the Downtown area in the afternoon is a huge pain in the butt. There are multiple schools in the area, not to mention all of the white collar workers streaming down tiny 2-lane Cary Street Road to get to their West End McMansions after a day in the office. Everything gets backed up to a standstill and it is not pleasant.

In an effort to avoid the worst of the traffic, I left work a bit early at 4:30... but still sat through multiple traffic light cycles at the Three Chopt/Cary Street Road intersection. Once I finally got to 3 Sports, actually obtaining our bibs, t shirt, and race bib was relatively painless. The only snag was that after initial registration, race organizers sent out a second email giving folks the option to size down to an XS shirt (not initially available on registration forms). I don't know if they then did not transfer requests or what, but the person handing out race t shirts gave me a small and when I said I had requested an XS, he told me that there was no way to prove it but if I promised that I had done so, I could have an XS.

Uh... I promise?

Race Day Arrival/Parking - B-

The Love Rox website gave this advice on parking:
City of Richmond Parking Map Lots 81-85 are the closest to the start of the race.

Not exactly the most helpful information. Luckily, I know the area well and figured that I would be able to find street parking. Marcey and I arranged to rendezvous at the Downtown Y first. She would park her car there, then jump into mine, and then we would only have to park one car in the vicinity of the race.

I circled the block(s) near the start area a few times before I found a street spot 4 blocks away (free on the weekends - score!). The finish/staging area was at Tredegar Civil War Center, which is down by the river and all of the parking options in the immediate area was blocked off, so we got pretty much as close as we could.

Things worked out well for us because we know Richmond/the area, but if you were from out of town you probably had some trouble with parking. Honestly, if I hadn't lucked out and found the sweet street spot, I'm not sure what deck we would have used or how much it would have cost or if it took credit cards or required cash, etc. It's not knowing things like that that stresses me out when it comes to races, so I'm giving parking a B-.

Our street spot... also showing the rain...
Because it rains/threatens rain, or has just rained on every race that I participate in.


Starting Area - A-

Two words: heated tent.

Marcey and I were reluctant to leave the warm, dry car to go stand around in the cold rain at the start of the race, but when 10 am came, I insisted we head toward the start. Thank goodness that the race organizers had the foresight to rent a large heated tent. Pre-race, the tent wasn't overly crowded, but the smell of the post-race food being prepared made me extremely hungry!

As time passed, more and more runners and spectators started to crowd into the tent. Announcements about start time were easy to hear (they delayed the race by 15 minutes, in hopes of the rain stopping, I guess), but confusing... "The start is on Brown's Island, take the 9th street bridge to get there... wait, just kidding. Scratch that! Half marathoners are running on that bridge and we don't want any problems so everyone take X bridge instead!" Meanwhile, I really don't know which island is Brown's, or which bridge is which either. Our plan was just to follow the others and hope we ended up in the right place.

After quick visits to the port-o-johns, we followed the rest of the sheep and did end up on the right place - Brown's Island. This is also where the Richmond Marathon ended and honestly, I think it's a fabulous staging area for races. It's beautiful and has big wide open spaces, plus great views of the river (allowing for prime photo backdrops).


Being us, M & I took some time screwing around and taking pre-race photos. Although we made it to the right island, it was kind of unclear where the start line was.

We assumed that the start was up there somewhere where the group
was congregating...
We were still clowning around taking silly pictures (we figured we had time to kill)...

Obviously taking photos of me hugging trees is more
important than stretching.


...when all of a sudden we heard the starting gun.

Uh... go?

Course - A

I really really enjoyed this course. The first course that was released closely followed my most favorite running route in Richmond, which includes part of the Canal Walk and the Flood Wall. When the course was amended later on, they dropped the Flood Wall and I have to admit I was pretty unhappy about it.

BUT, the course that we did run on Saturday was filled with interesting sights (and sounds). It had a steady incline and some tough hills in miles 4-6, but I was grateful for the variety, even if my calves weren't. I think that it showed love to some sides of Richmond that are generally neglected: the Canal Walk (all the way to Shockoe Bottom) and the Manchester neighborhood.

The last 1.5 miles were nearly identical to the finish for the Richmond Marathon/Half/8k. When I realized this, all I could think about was the fact that in 9 months, I will be running that same stretch on legs that have gone 24 miles and will almost be finished my first marathon (and probably be in a lot of pain and wishing I was dead).

Some photos from along the way:

Along the Canal Walk, under the railroad bridge in Shockoe Bottom

A train rolled by while we were running alongside the railroad bridge -
some runners made the "please honk your horn" motion with their arms
and the engineer totally did. It was awesome.

Richmond skyline from the Robert E. Lee bridge
(and my thumb)

The route, downloaded from my Garmin

The Good

  • Lovely start on Brown's Island.
  • Extremely scenic - I enjoyed every minute and got to run in some new areas of Richmond that I hadn't previously been to.
  • Challenging, but not too  challenging. It started flat and hills picked up in the Manchester area (south of the river. Although I love a super flat course, it was good to push myself.
  • Good downhill finish.
  • Volunteers were there to flag all along the 10k course, though I heard that some half marathon runners got misdirected and ended up off course (and accidentally cutting the race short by 1.5 miles).
  • A few water and gatorade stops, which I didn't really count because I didn't partake of any.
The Eh
  • Though I love starting on Brown's, heading to the extremely narrow Canal Walk for the first part of the race was not the best. It's a narrow sidewalk and includes stairs and ramps - not exactly great when you're jostling for position with the hundreds of other runners that have not thinned out yet. 
  • Last mile included an extremely steep hill on Canal Street - very difficult and painful to try to put on the brakes there at the end of the race.
  • My #1 complaint: there was a surprise section of cobblestones right before the finish line, as you are running full speed toward the finish. More on that below.
The Finish - C

I was loving the downhill aspect of the finish. I knew I was booking it and as I rounded the corner of 5th street to head toward the line, I heard someone yell my name. It was my running buddy Greg, who had come to see the finish (he didn't run that day). After I yelled a return greeting, he ran alongside me and started yelling at me to watch out for the cobbles.

Thank GOD he had scoped that out before I got there and was able to warn me. At that point, all I could see was the Finish line and didn't even notice the stones. I was running like a bat out of hell (5:30 pace), my shoe lace was untied, it was raining/snowing, and I have a screwed up foot that doesn't react well to uneven surfaces. I could have really  injured myself (or someone else, if I took a spill). As it was, I put on the brakes through the cobbled area then was unable to regain my momentum.

After I had finished, Greg and I both went back up ahead of the cobbled area and yelled warnings to the runners who were coming as the snow was really coming down and the uneven cobbles were getting more slippery by the second. 

Next year, I really hope that the organizers move the finish line up and make a tiny change somewhere else along the route. It would be extremely simple because really, it was maybe 50-75 yards from the finish line.

Marcey takes on the cobbles.

DANGER!!!!!!
After coming through the finish arch, I was immediately (and kind of unceremoniously) handed a medal and then moved out of the way as fast as I could. I'm glad we got medals because this was another miscommunication by the race organizers - the website said that all finishers (half and 10k) would receive a race medal. Three days before the race, an email went out stating that the information had been in error and that only half marathon finishers would receive medals. 

This made me pretty unhappy. No, medals aren't the reason I race (ok, they might be a tiny reason), but I like to get them. Especially when I am under the impression that I will be receiving one!

Two days before the race, a second email comes out that tells us that actually, 10k finishers will receive medals after all.

Anyhow, I got my medal and Greg took some photos for me. I was feeling pretty high - I had just PR'd on a challenging course, running my first 10k since the break!



The water station was some large water coolers and small cups in the plaza outside of the heated tent. It was very easy to miss and honestly, I thought pretty inadequate. Luckily I was too cold and wet to be thirsty (even though I should have gotten some water anyway), so I bypassed it and headed right into the heated tent. 

Race organizers sent a follow up email that stated that they would rethink the water station next year, citing the intention of being "green" and avoiding the use of plastic water bottles as the reason for the small water cups and coolers. Listen, I am a pretty green person and I'm all about environmental friendly methods, but tiny dixie cups for half marathoners and 10k runners is not cool. You'd have to fill up the thing 100 times to get the amount of water that you needed. Just get the bottles and set up plenty of recycling containers in the finish area. That will serve everyone better in the long run and fulfill the green initiative of the race organizers.

Post-race refreshments included the usual bananas and bagels, but what I really made a b-line for was the hot chili. It was absolutely delicious. There was also a cash bar offering various mixed drinks but I wasn't interested. Call me crazy, but I just don't want to drink alcohol after just finishing a race.

After obtaining hot chili, I went back out to wait for Marcey, who finished in 1:10:17. I thought it was an awesome time considering the course and the fact that she was running a race in the cold/snow for the first time ever!

Marcey, you just kicked butt!



Overall Grade - B+

This being an inaugural race, I have to say that overall it was a great experience. The course was especially wonderful (minus the cobbles). With a few refinements, this will be a solid "A" race, no doubt. Both Marcey and I really appreciated the heated tent, the post race food was excellent, the later start time (I'm no fan of early mornings), and the start/finish location was also nice.

The organizers have already sent a follow up email addressing some of the concerns that I and other runners had, which I thought was very impressive. It shows they are listening and want feed back, both positive and negative. My main bones of contention were the cobbles and the packet pick up, which was in a pretty inconvenient location and limited. Changing over to water bottles at the end would also be nice.

Personal Performance - A+

Now for the biggest news of the race: not only did I PR with a 51:11 on a course far more challenging than the one I set my previous PR on ( 53:22 at last year's Monument Avenue 10k), I placed third in my age group! Don't ask me how many people were in my age group (probably 20), but I'm still thrilled.

I never hang around for awards and was well into my Proper Pie when I got a text from Greg telling me that I won something. I thought he was joking me, but he wasn't. I got third. Holy cow.



Also noteworthy is that 7:29 minute mile - my fastest ever during a race. I'm pretty impressed with that, especially considering it included a gnarly uphill climb on Canal Street and then the painful downhill.

And my race photo actually turned out ok:



Truly, I'm thrilled with how this race went. I certainly never expected to PR considering the weather and the hills and my foot, which is ultra sensitive to cold now and was numb/achy for the first few miles.My success here really got my confidence up about the Shamrock Half, which is now less than a month away!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Run, Eat, Play Indeed

This weekend was jam packed with my favorite things to do in Richmond.

I ran.
Love Rox 10k

I ate (oh BOY did I eat!)
Proper Pie Co.

I played.
Richmond Symphony Masterworks

Full reports on each to follow!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Distinguished Award and Excuse to Talk About Myself


I am humbled and thrilled to have been chosen for a Leibster Award by Tori over at One Thousand Miles. She must have known that back in the day, filling out surveys and posting them in my LiveJournal (remember LiveJournal???) was my #1 favorite way to avoid doing course work. 

So, what is a Leibster Award? 
This award is given to new or up and coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. The award is then passed along to other bloggers in the same category to help spread the word.  Basically it's a nice way to say, "Hey I like your blog! Let me help you promote it!" (Awww shucks, thanks so much Tori!)

If you receive the award, there are a few rules to follow… 
  • Each blogger nominated must post 11 random things about themselves. 
  • Then answer the 11 questions the tagger has asked. 
  • The blogger must then create 11 questions of their own to ask the bloggers they decide to nominate.
  • Bloggers must be notified of their award. No tag backs. 
So first, 11 random things about me:

1. I am obsessed with royalty. I love love love reading biographies of monarchs. It all started with Alison Weir's Six Wives of Henry VIII. Since then I have read about everyone from Henry and his wives to Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, Charles II, Mary Queen of Scots, and of course Queen Elizabeth II, who hangs out on my desk.



2. I missed my last 2 weeks of high school because I had a terrible terrible case of mono. At graduation, I was Valedictorian and had to give a speech. I was so sick and weak that I could barely stand up for the duration of my 3-5 minute speech. I also happened to have tickets for my first ever Dave Matthews Band show during this period and I went anyway, with full blown mono. 

3. My best friend has been my best friend since the 7th grade. Kind of like Meredith and Christina on Grey's Anatomy, she is "my person" and I don't know what I'd do without her.

4. Husband and I were set up by a mutual friend who paired us up as groomsman/bridesmaid at her wedding with the plan that we would end up together. And like every cheestastic rom-com you've ever seen, it worked.

The day it happened.
With Sheila, the responsible party, at our wedding 2 years later
5. I am likely the biggest band geek that you know. 

6. I am terrified of swinging doors. Every time I go through one, I'm convinced someone will be pushing through the other side and slam the door into my fingers, breaking them.

7. One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting on my grandfather's knee, eating ice cream and watching my cousins play their Little League games. 

  

8. I love snow. In 2010, I drove into Snowpocalypse in Washington, DC because I wanted to experience it. 

 

9. For two summers during college, I worked hospitality at Wolftrap. Basically, this means that I have gone grocery shopping for some pretty famous people. My favorite highlights are that the first hard liquor that I ever purchased was a bottle of rum for Bonnie Raitt and that I packed a peanut butter sandwich and apple in a brown bag for Bill Cosby's "getaway car" for right after his show.

10. Jeopardy was my favorite show for years. I auditioned in person when I was 21, but didn't make it on. Number 9 above was going to by my story when Alex Trebek interviewed me. 

11. I can lick my elbow.    

I chalk this ability up to short arms + long tongue.
That's BFF making the "WTF" face in the background.
 
Now for the questions that Tori came up with:

1. What is your favorite type of exercise and why? I guess this one is kind of obvious - I love running! I love it for so many reasons but mainly because I have met so many awesome people through the sport and because I can eat more cupcakes and drink more wine without feeling guilty.

2. How many places have you traveled? I consider myself very lucky to have been able to travel what I think is a pretty decent amount for a middle-class girl from little old Hagerstown, MD. Traveling is one of my great loves and I am always plotting my next trip. I won't list them all, but some destinations have included:
  • Key West, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida (multiple times)
  • Sanibel, Florida (multiple times)
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Knoxville, Tennessee 
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • New York, NY (multiple times)
  • Outer Banks of North Carolina (multiple times)
  • Boston, Massachusetts (multiple)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (multiple)
  • Hershey, Pennsylvania
  • St. Louis, MO (multiple)
  • Charleston, South Carolina 
  • Asheville (Biltmore), North Carolina
  • Bermuda
  • Niagara Falls/Buffalo, New York
  • Paris, France
  • London, England (multiple times)
  • Oxford, England
  • All over Ireland (Dublin, Cobh, Kilkenny, Adare, Galway, etc.)
This May, Husband and I are finally (I say "finally" because we've been talking about it for 5 years!) going to Italy for 2 weeks. I can't wait to lace up my running shoes and run in Rome, Florence, and Venice!

3. How many jobs have you had since you started working? Wow. This one is going to make me think. I am on my 11th job since I started working at age 15 (at least I think I was 15... if not, then I was 16).

4. How many pets have you had? Oh lordy. This is another one that is going to make me think. I'm not going to count fish, because that would just be ridiculous. I've had 6 cats (Emma, Sam, Binky, Garfield, Ribbon, and Patches), 2 dogs including my current buddy Mason, and 3 rabbits (Snowstorm, Smoky, and Glamour). 

5. Where is your hometown? Do you think you will ever live there again? My hometown is Hagerstown, Maryland and no, I doubt that I will ever live there again. I cherish my childhood there and like to go back to visit (mainly because I miss Hagerstown food staples like Freddie's Subs, Krumpe's Donuts, and Superior Dairy ice cream... oh yeah and because a lot of my family is still there), but I am more of a "medium" to "big city" girl now.

6. If you could have any job, what would it be and why? I would play flute in the Boston Symphony. Because that is what my true love really is.

7. What is your favorite holiday? The 4th of July for a one simple reason: The 1812 Overture, performed by the Maryland Symphony at Antietam Battlefield during the annual Salute to Independence. 

8. If you could live anywhere in the world, no matter what the cost, where would you live? Paris 

9. What items can you NOT leave the house without? ... ya know, I don't think there is an item I can't leave without except for my wallet and car keys.

10. What is your favorite thing about Richmond? I love that Richmond has big-city amenities without all the big-city problems. I lived in the DC metro area for 6 years and hated it because of the high prices, traffic, parking, crowds, etc. Everything is an ordeal there. In Richmond, I have easy access to awesome food, awesome arts and cultural groups, awesome shopping, and awesome museums without any of the traffic and for a fraction of the price.

11. What is at the top of your bucket list? Going back to Paris. 

Now it's my turn to choose the next lucky Leibster award winners. Tag, you're it: 


and 


Here is what I want to know: 

1. Admit it: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

2. Tell me all about the best meal that you ever had.

3. If you won a $100 million jackpot, what would you do with it?

4. What is your favorite childhood memory?

5. What is your every day super power? (mine, for instance, is being a super planny plannerston.)

6. What is the most rebellious/crazy/reckless thing you have ever done?

7. If you had it to do over, what is one thing that you would have done differently?

8. Your favorite adult beverage:

9. A movie that you can watch over and over again and never get sick of:

10. What is your favorite thing about yourself?

11. Your house is on fire and you have time to rescue one thing. Assuming your family members and pets are already safe, what do you save? 

Things I Believe Thursday XIV (late)

I believe in "better late than never."

Obviously.

Now for my real belief for today... errrrr... yesterday.

I believe that I got pretty lucky in the Husband department.

Not only did he make me Chicken Marsala for dinner (from scratch), he also got me presents that enhance my favorite things:

Obviously I am quite spoiled. 

Hope everyone else had a great love day too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lenten Sacrifices

It's Fat Tuesday, which means that I have been thinking about what I am giving up for Lent this year. 

If you will recall, last year I gave up Starbucks and Lulu.

This year, I'm going for a triple challenge and foregoing: 

French Fries


Soda (mainly Coke, I don't drink anything else)
 
And, in light of a recent buying binge that I have previously been too ashamed to admit to:


I don't eat that much junk food anymore (relatively speaking...), but Coke and french fries are two of my biggest weaknesses along with cake and wine. I refuse to give up cake or wine because my birthday falls within Lent and seeing as how this year is a big milestone birthday, I'm going to need all the cake and wine I can get to deal with it. 

French fries will definitely be the most difficult. I know how bad they are for me, but I love them and when I get a craving for them, it must be fulfilled. Immediately. This one will be a real test of my will power.

I've given up Coke in the past, back when I still had my one-a-day habit. This year it's not going to be as challenging because I rarely drink it anymore... years of going without during Lent and age have simply made it too sweet for me to consume very often. The most difficult thing about this one will be if/when we get a pizza. There are a few food pairings that I insist upon and one of them is that when I have pizza, it must be washed down with a Coke. Just the thought of drinking water with pizza gives me the willies. Yup... the willies. Pizza is probably not even worth it if I can't have a Coke with it.

Go ahead and judge. It's cool.

Finally, my old nemesis Lululemon. I had been off the Lulu train for a while. In August, I was embarrassed/disgusted with my summertime Lulu gluttony and declared myself to be over it. Then I broke my foot and therefore had no reason to buy Lulu for a few months (not to mention all of the stuff they were coming out with was 100% fugly), making it much easier to resist. 

Then came Frond. I have been waiting for Lulu to release a nice green for years, and they did so about a month ago. I knew it was going to be big trouble for me. First came the gingham print cool racerback.


Then the groovy run shorts...


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand this new Pace Tank that I couldn't resist. I mean, look at this thing - it's adorable!!!


Aaaaaaand there may have been some additional purchases on various exchange boards that I am not going to talk about.

This needs to stop because it has crossed into the ridiculous again. So, I purchased the shorts this morning and declare myself finished.

Tonight I plan to go to yoga (!), then treat myself to a dinner of a big FAT order of Wendy's french fries and a big FAT Coke to go with them. 

Anybody else giving up anything for Lent? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

What A Monday! (Randomness)

Wow. What a day.

1. The Pope resigned. I'm not Catholic, but when I heard that headline on the 6:00 am news, I was stunned! I said to Husband (who is Catholic), "But Popes can't resign!!" Apparently they can, but hardly ever do.

2. I had a flat tire this morning. I didn't realize it until I got to work and got out of my car. Luckily the maintenance angels at my work were able to patch it and pump it back up for me. Of course this would happen the day before I'm putting new tires on the car. Here's the culprit:


I've had more flat tires than I can count, so I guess I should have seen this coming. I'm cursed.

3. One of my very very good friends dropped a big old bombshell on me. I'm still trying to process it. Really didn't see it coming!

4. Teal shoes + debut of Banana Republic pencil skirt purchased at Clementine for $20!


5. Share the Love BOGO afternoon latte date with Marcey. If you haven't seen/heard about the Starbucks promo, here are the details. FREE LATTES, PEOPLE.


Having this break definitely helped dampen the crazy that I was feeling. Thank goodness for Marcey.

6. The weather forecast for this Saturday is giving me serious anxiety. The Love Rox 10k is in the morning and in the past 24 hours, the forecast has changed from "Rain" to "Snow/Mix" to "Mostly Cloudy." Again, I am cursed when it comes to rain and races, so I should have seen this coming. But I REALLY don't want it to rain, dammit!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Swan Lake & Six Miles

Yesterday was a perfect Saturday packed full of things that I love.

First up, Marcey and I hit up the Richmond Ballet's production of Swan Lake at Richmond CenterStage. Ever since I learned that Swan Lake would be one of their productions this year, I planned to go.

It was a 2:00 pm matinee, and being chronically early to everything, I got there before Marcey, so I took the opportunity to take a few shots of the Carpenter Theatre.

The sky was sapphire blue - so pretty.

Elaborate plasterwork on the ceiling of the lobby rotunda

Lights on the underside of the marquee

This production was the most stunning ballet I have ever been to. The dancing was awe inspiring, there's nothing better than live orchestral accompaniment, and the costumes and sets were lovely. I mean really, is there anything prettier than 20 ballerinas in shimmering white tutus performing to music by the ballet score master (and my personal favorite composer) Tchaikovsky?

Slightly illegal photo during curtain call. Sorry, Richmond Ballet,
I couldn't resist.

If you want to see some seriously ripped legs, look no further than the male dancers of the Richmond Ballet. WOW. And of course the grace, elegance, and flexibility of the ballerinas had my jaw on the floor for much of the 3 hour production. The pure athleticism of the entire company was just amazing, as was their emotional performance. I got goosebumps so many times that I lost count, and yes, I teared up at the end when Odette and the Prince were reunited.

So, bravo, bravo, BRAVO, Richmond Ballet!

I left the Carpenter on a serious high whose energy transferred itself to my 6 mile run, which I took immediately afterwards.

This was my longest-since-August run and I meant to take it easy. Thanks to Swan Lake, this is what happened instead:



Good Lord. Outside of stopping after Mile 3 for about 1 minute to stretch and the usual pauses for traffic lights, I didn't take any breaks and apparently never slowed down. I don't know where this speed is coming from... but I'll take it.

When we signed up for the 10k, I told Greg the only way I'd do it was if we ran as fast as we could for the entire time. So, we signed up for the 49:00-49:59 seeded group, which we both qualified for based on previous 10k times. This finish seemed a bit of a stretch for me (it's a 3 minute PR!) but after yesterday, it seems possible!

My speedy ways seem to be having a bit of an adverse affect on my foot - it was sore yesterday. But I'm not entirely sure that it's just the speed - I have also been running pavement and the medians of Monument more often. To be on the safe side, today was a pool day and I'm going to take care Monday and Wednesday's runs on the vita course before tackling the Love Rox 10k on Saturday.

Meanwhile, I'm seriously considering enrolling in beginner adult ballet classes. Mainly so I can wear a tutu again.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Things I Believe Thursday XIII

I believe that 9 times out of 10, it is worth it to just pay the extra for convenience.

I was reminded of this belief this morning, when for the second time this week, I decided to try out a new route to work... a route that doesn't involve taking the Downtown Expressway, which is a toll road and my usual commute of choice.

For whatever reason, this week I got it into my head that I am tired of paying $0.35 every day to take the Expressway in the morning. Being me, I am chronically early in the mornings and therefore taking a few extra minutes to drive through Richmond instead of taking the Expressway isn't such a big deal.

On Tuesday, the route that I attempted dumped me into the middle of awful traffic on Broad Street. I had forgotten that the Legislative Session is in, so that area of Richmond is a disaster in the mornings right now. It took me at least twice as long as it would have otherwise, and I'm sure that I wasted far more than $0.35 in gas sitting in traffic and at the seemingly endless stop lights.

Yesterday I just took the Expressway.

Today I got the bright idea to try to come to work from the south side instead. My reward? Sitting through 5 cycles of the light at the Mayo Bridge and Canal Street. As I sat and watched it turn yellow then red yet again without me going through it, I decided that paying the $0.35 is more than worth it.

I have been reminded of this lesson over and over. A weekend spent painting the kitchen resulted in cries of "never again" from me, and I haven't ever painted anything myself again. I'd rather hire someone who will do it faster and better than I ever could.

Crafting things for my wedding was out of the question. The only things that I made were table numbers, and those took me more than 5 hours. I'm terrible at crafts. It was much easier and more pleasant to pay for everything else to be done for me.

Recently, I got it in my head that I'd make adorable pink whoopie pies for BFF's baby shower. After two failed attempts using two different methods, we are instead buying beautifully made cupcakes. I'm not going to continue to torture myself over whoopie pies. Plus, I'm tired of eating the failed batches of whoopie pies. (Note: the pies tasted good, just didn't look the part - didn't want ya'll to think I can't cook.)

So, a toast to paying for convenience... and being lucky enough to be able to pay for it... even if I am still of the mindset that $0.35 a day is going to break my bank.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Richmond Rave: Grove Avenue Water Stop

This past Sunday, I had the great pleasure of participating in what I believe was the First Annual Grove Avenue Water Stop Super Shuffle 5 Miler.

Whew - that was a mouthful.

The Grove Avenue Water Stop is something of a fixture on the Richmond running scene. It was started by a local runner named Sheri Crowell. Sheri lives along Grove Avenue, which is a pretty popular thoroughfare for runners. In April 2011, she started to put a water cooler out in front of her house for runners and other exercising folk and since then, the Grove Avenue Water Stop (GAWS) has earned itself a kind of cult following. There was even an article about GAWS in the local paper (check it out here).


I myself was completely ignorant of GAWS until I started to run with the Run Like a Girl group last spring. My first encounter with GAWS was during a crazy warm (by crazy warm, I mean 85 degrees) early April day. The RLaG group always kept a much speedier pace than I was used to, and by the time we got to the last mile of the evening's run, I was dying for some water. To be fair, we all were. And behold, there it was!

Even better, Sheri happened to be out in her yard and insisted on snapping a picture of the group.


I remember being so awed that someone would take it upon themselves to provide a water station for complete strangers 365 days a year and out of nothing but the goodness of her own heart.

So, when I saw the Facebook announcement for the Super Bowl Shuffle, I was all about it. I wanted to support Sheri and as an added bonus, I had a 5 miler scheduled for that very weekend. Done and done.

On Sunday, a hugely diverse group of runners, walkers, bikers, dogs, and stroller-pushers gathered at GAWS as flurries swirled around us. This wasn't a race - just a casual, friendly kind of run. Everyone was enthusiastic though, and the positive energy was contagious.

Most of the group just before the start of the run

Represent!
(even though burgundy and gold clash
big time with my pink shoes!)
Greg brought along his dog Earl, who was an amazing runner. We started near the front of the pack and pretty much stayed there. Ok, ok, I might be fudging a little bit... once the crowd settled, we ended up in the second pack, behind all of the teenaged boys who no doubt finished in under 30:00.

The course was simple and marked with pink arrows stuck on any available surface (telephone poles, trees, no parking signs, fences). Since this was an unofficial race, we all looked out for each other with cries of "car back" or "clear" or "hold up!" echoing up and down the group as we made our way along the 5 mile route.



It was camaraderie at its best. Runners just hanging out and enjoying each others' company.

About halfway through, Greg and I realized that Earl was first place in the dog division, so we joked and ribbed on him for the rest of the race. "No stopping to pee, Earl - we've got a PR to think about!"

Truth be told, thanks to Earl, we ended up running at a pretty fast clip for the whole 5 miles.


And Earl did get first place in the doggie division.

The run ended with some post-run snacks in Sheri's garage. It was a great spread - gold fish, candy hearts, pretzels, oranges, bananas, water, Krispy Kreme - basically junk food heaven.



There were even door prizes, of which I was a winner.

Best race swag EVER.

The whole thing was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. From what I understand, it is going to be an annual event. I'm already looking forward to next year!

I am still completely overwhelmed by Sheri and her family's generosity to the Richmond running community. Really, we Richmond runners are pretty lucky to have such a supportive community. Not all are so fortunate.

So, a big fat

THANK YOU!

to you, Sheri, for all that you (and your family) do for the active community. You rock!