Monday, February 27, 2012

A New PDR and Underestimating Myself.

Sorry for the delay with this post, but I enjoyed a weekend away from my computer. Except for uploading my Garmin after my run Saturday and the occasional facebook comment from my Blackberry, I was blissfully unplugged. I caught up on some reading and sleep, had a great dinner out with friends, and helped dad make a huge step in finally getting the dining room finished. It was nice. Maybe I should just commit to only writing 1 or 2 posts each week so I don't feel guilty when I don't post every little new and exciting thing that happens. Especially now that I'm getting serious about my "101 Things in 1001 Days" posts over on my Xanga blog. And I'm putting more effort into my creative writing again (and organizing my older writing). Guess we're in for some longer posts, people. Double knot your running shoes and hold on tight.

I'm constantly learning that I underestimate myself. I'll be completely honest here, I was scared to death thinking about running 8 miles on Saturday. That's longer than I've EVER run, even with walk breaks. I've been staring at that "8" on the calender for several weeks now, just waiting. When I woke up Saturday morning, I just rolled over and stared at my running shoes for a good 10 minutes before I decided to crawl out of my ridiculously comfy cocoon. I got slightly more excited once I looked outside and saw that it was snowing! I knew it wouldn't stick, but I wanted to get out and enjoy the flurries while they lasted. If you're friends with me on facebook, you know I spent a while Friday night debating which route to take for my 8-miler. I wanted to run on busy roads as little as possible thinking that I would need to have my music cranked up in order to get myself through this run. But, I didn't want to run on muddy trails and have to expend even more energy that I wasn't sure I had in me. I ended up making a compromise with running north along Whitehouse-Spencer to the north fork of the Wabash-Cannonball trail and then taking that west into Oak Openings. From there, I'd be taking my normal route home through the park and along Obee. I also figured I knew plenty of people who lived along that route in case I had a problem. I DID take my cell phone with me (I'm seriously in love with the pockets in my Saucony nomad jacket) in case I needed to suck it up and call home ... or to take pictures (will get to that in a minute).

The run itself was SO not what I was expecting. From the start, my legs did NOT want to go slow. I couldn't get above a 12 minute mile even for my first mile, which surprised the heck out of me. So, I just settled into a comfortable pace, focused on my music, and TRIED not to look at my Garmin every 3 minutes. I don't run the north fork of the W-C Trail very often (ok, hardly ever), so it was a treat for me. The heaviest of the snow flurries were coming down while I was alone on the trail so I occupied myself for a little while with seeing how many snowflakes I could catch on my tongue as I was running. Before I knew it, I was already in Oak Openings and getting ready to turn down Girdham Road and go past the dunes. I don't think I've spent any real time in this corner of the park since high school when our Environmental Science class took a fieldtrip to these dunes. I tried to get a picture of myself while running past the dunes, but I think I look ridiculous with my big US Rowing hat, sunglasses, and everything tinged bright orange from my jacket. lol. Oh, and I may have dropped my Blackberry RIGHT after I took this. Oops. lol

I had considered calling my friend and having him meet me at Mallard Lake since that was where I was going to pass my previous distance record and have him run me the rest of the 2 miles home to keep me motivated. But, I didn't. Once I saw how close I was to the turn off for Mallard, I took stock of how my body was feeling. Shoulders and jaw were still relaxed. Not thirsty (I'm getting better at during-run hydration). Hands and ears were actually warm. Knee and ankle felt ok (a big worry). Legs felt strong. My mind was a little fuzzy, but it always gets like that during a run. It's a coping mechanism. I'm very good at noticing details around me while running and then forgetting them in the next breath. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but oh well. Anyway, I decided to play a mind game with myself. As soon as I passed Mallard Lake (holy crapola construction!), I blanked out the previous 6 miles and told myself it was only a 2 mile day and I was just starting ... at 5k tempo pace. I found some good tunes (Crazy Train, Ozzy Ozborn.) and before I knew what was going on, my Garmin was beeping the end of 8 miles and I could see the road leading back into my neighborhood. I did it. 8 miles. An hour and a half of running. Without a walk break. I broke my distance record. Wow. It occurred to me around this time HOW MUCH I underestimate myself. I've been following a training plan pretty diligently so there is NO REASON I shouldn't have been able to complete this run. Why was I so worried? I "ran" an 11k on 11/11/11 and I remember how much I had to walk, but that was over 3 months ago and I've been training for a longer distance since then! It's time to start trusting my body and my training. I could echo the same ideas when it comes to my weight loss, but I'll save that for another time.

Being all psychological and clinical about it, I can understand why I underestimate myself sometimes. I'm constantly being told I can't do something and usually that "something" is physical. 2 prime examples. The first occurred several years ago while out doing fieldwork with a professor who is now on my committee (eek). While unloading equipment from the truck, I grabbed one side of a heavy box to help him lift it down off the tailgate and got told to "wait for xxxx (the other guy) because I was a girl and it would be too heavy for me." It REALLY ticked me off because 1) I was the one who had loaded it in the truck in the first place and 2) xxxx was this nerdy, weak, uncoordinated guy who I probably could have bench-pressed. So, I sat back and watched as "the guys" tried to lift the equipment, dropped it, scraped the leg of the professor, and cracked the equipment. Luckily it was just the external casing that cracked and it was easily secured, but it still took everything in me to not point and start screaming "I told you so!" Later in the day, I had a private conversation about the incident with the professor, which I thought was the mature thing to do, and he chose to just throw it back in my face that "they did the best they could and I still wouldn't have been any help." I blew my top. My poor advisor listened to me rant for a good 20 minutes when I got back to campus that evening. I've heard since then that my advisor AND the current department chair (who I've done field work with on several occasions) had a conversation with the professor. I've worked with him several times since then, and he's kept those kind of comments to himself, but I think I finally proved to him that I'm a capable researcher. Though, thinking back on it now, I've always had one of the guys with me that the professor "trusted". Hrm. Whatever. Anyone who I've worked with and they've had their eyes open could tell you I throw everything I have into my fieldwork. It's just a shame such cool work is being done by such a jerky prof.

The other example just happened last night. Like I mentioned earlier, we've made HUGE progress in finished the dining room. Dad got all of the wood molding and beadboard stained and installed (I hate how it looks, but oh well. I've just never been a fan of mismatched wood colors :-/ ) and we brought the china cabinet back in from the garage. Our china cabinet is a beast. The top and bottom are actually 2 different pieces otherwise it'd be impossible to move. The top part we DID have to use a dolly to move it because of all the heavy glass, but the bottom part is just wood so dad figured we could just carry it. It was a little awkward, but manageable until mom decided that my end looked "too heavy for me" and decided to "help". Yea, can you see where this is going? I almost tripped and had the whole thing dropped on me because she was trying to talk through a doorway while holding on and pushing it away from her so she could fit through. I snapped and yelled at her to "just let the $!@# go", which of course caught me some hell with dad, but I didn't care. I'll take pissing mom and dad off over having a several-hundred-pound cabinet dropped on me, probably killing me from internal injuries the way it would have fallen. This kind of crap happens EVERY time we have to move something big in our house. It's WELL past old-hat.

Wow, I can't believe I just ranted on those. Oh well. I'm too lazy to go back, delete, and try to find a shortened and less rant-y way to talk about it.

Alright, I'm off on today's run, a short 2 miles. And then I'm diving into the Hunger Games books. A friend is letting me borrow her copies since our wonderful library system decided to order only 1 copy of each book for each branch and they're all reserved well into the summer. Really?! *glare*

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Evergreen Lake Kind Of Day

I FINALLY get a break from writing to ... write? Um, ok. Whatever. I'll just include lots of pictures to make my life easier, ok? [And totally not because I purposely took an obnoxious number of pictures to use for this post. lol]

(Please excuse if the pictures are a little blurry. I only had my Blackberry with me and the camera on it isn't all that great. I could have spent HOURS taking awesome pictures if I would have remembered my good camera.)

I was a little disappointed when I looked at my training schedule yesterday morning. Only 2 miles. I contemplated just running straight out and back on Whitehouse-Spencer Road or some random loop in town. And then I looked down and saw my trail shoes sitting next to my dresser. Is it weird that I HATE seeing them clean? :)

Since I was home, I just went over to one of my favorite trails in my favorite Metropark. Evergreen Lake. I remembered that the trail around the lake was somewhere around a mile (ok, I knew full well that each loop was 1.25+ miles, but I was being willfully ignorant once I decided that's where I wanted to run) so I planned on just making 2 loops.

Now, this IS Northwest Ohio, so we don't have huge hills (unless you want to count the Oak Openings ridge [if you really want to know what that is, just ask. I could keep you busy for years just with the work my department does on the OO ridge]), but I think this short trail has one of the best varieties of conditions you'll find in this part of NW Ohio.

You get everything from pavement (the official start to the multi-purpose trail for the park)...

... to the deciduous forest (mostly oak. This is an area well known for it's globally-rare black oak savannah.) ...

... MUCKY MUD ...

... No, I mean REALLY mucky. Check out one of my many "slides" (which I may or may not have been laughing and yelling "weee" as it was happening) ...

... the southwest end of the lake has my favorite part of the trail, the coniferous forest. I have friends who think it's creepy, but I love it ...

... you just have to watch REAL close through the conifers so you don't lose the trail since it isn't always clear. The Evergreen Lake trail, the horse trail, and the scout trail (longer-distance hiking trail) all weave back and forth through this side of the lake ...

... my favorite place in ALL THE PARK is JUST as the trail bends west to accommodate the irregular shape of the lake, just as you begin to enter the conifers ...

 ... and with a great view of the south end of the lake (you just don't want to be sitting there when the mosquitos are out if you value your hide) ...

... you may even see a beaver! It's rare, but they're here. Kind of hard to ignore the signs ...

... just watch your step so you don't trip over one of these (about 1/4 mile south on the trail from the bathrooms, if there are any Metroparks people reading this) ...

 ... or some of these ...

... and you'll have a happy run and look like this ...

Ok, maybe you won't look EXACTLY like that, but something similar. And, no, you can't have my sunglasses or my new Saucony jacket. LOVE those things! Plus, it was kind of fun seeing how many people asked me if there was hunting allowed in the park (which it isn't) and if that was why I was wearing a bright orange jacket. :)

Oh, and your shoes might end up looking like this ...

No joke, this was AFTER I scraped my feet off in the grass in the picnic area by the parking lot. You can't see the back of my legs either. It was comical with all the mud splatter. It MAY have been a mistake to wear brand new white socks. Oops. At least my trail shoes were gray to start with. :)

Evergreen Lake also has a really nice picnic area (with heated bathrooms) along the lake ...

So, if it wasn't obvious already, I REALLY enjoyed my run yesterday. I ran the loop twice (2.67 miles @ 11:33/mi average) and then walked it again to get all these pictures. Yes, I was writing this post in my head as I was running and thinking about where I wanted pictures. I purposely left my iPod at home so I could focus on enjoying and being in-the-moment. I always enjoy my runs here, no matter what the conditions, and I just wanted to be able to share. The weather was a gorgeous 35* and sunny and I'm SO glad I didn't waste the day. I was almost annoyed when it was time to go home and get back to work on the computer.

I do count myself to be extremely blessed to live where I do, in the shadow of the Oak Openings Ridge, with its diverse ecosystems and species. I'm also blessed to be healthy and active enough to be able to appreciate the opportunities available to me. Every time I step outside, I'm reminded why I'm in the environmental field any why I feel so strongly about environmental education for ALL.

Today, I'm stuck in my basement lab, listening to the construction going on all around me (I seriously need to buy a pair of noise-canceling headphones, the earbuds just aren't cutting it around here). I was down here before the sun came up and I won't be out until well after the sun goes down. Maybe THAT's why I procrastinated writing this post. I knew I'd need a pick-me-up and a reminder of what OUTSIDE looked like. It's ok. It's supposed to be rainy and crummy the rest of the week. That's ok too. 

You can either whine about your shoes getting a little wet, or you can go jump in the biggest puddle you can find and laugh about it. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sweet Saturday

I really DID plan on writing this blog post yesterday, but it just never happened. Every time I sat down at my laptop, something else caught my attention and off I went. ADD at it's finest. lol.

I've completely blown my 100-day writing streak, so I'm going to have to start again. But, at least I have a better idea of what I need to do this time around to actually COMPLETE the challenge. Since I sit down every Saturday and make out my HUGE week-long to-do list for the next week (and it takes me a little while), I think I'm going to start allowing that to be one of my "journalings" for the challenge. And devote one notebook to this challenge, solely. I WAS trying to track it all with a word document, but it wasn't always convenient, which allowed me to slack off. No more of that.

I'm not sure what it was, but I just woke up in an excellent mood yesterday. Maybe it was because I slept in a bit and the sun was shining perfectly into my bedroom when I finally opened my eyes. I don't know. Anyway, I knew it was going to be a good day for my 6-miler. I didn't want to get on the W-C Trail and be bored for 6 miles and I didn't want to spend all that time on the road, either, so I looked for a mix. Going back to some of my bike rides from last summer for inspiration, I remembered that it was 6.75 miles round trip from my house to the Mallard Lake parking lot (the major trailhead for Oak Openings Metropark). Perfect. I didn't have to drive anywhere, I was in a familiar area, and I got to visit my favorite part. Again, perfect.

The run itself went pretty well. I woke up with a little pain in the normal place behind my right knee, but it quickly faded as soon as I started running. The only goals I had for the run were to finish and enjoy it. I didn't care how slow I ran it, but I wanted my final average pace to be in the high 11s. Well, I did it. It was a GORGEOUS sunny day in the low 40s and I enjoyed my 6 miles more than I thought I ever would. My music was rocking and I had to give myself a couple mini pep talks to keep my legs moving, but I did it. I even got a "visit" from my deer buddies while I was in the park. I had seen them on the side of the road ahead of me and, typical, they waited until I was RIGHT THERE to spook and take off across the road ALL AROUND ME. Sheesh. At least they didn't try to take me out like they did last summer when I was on the bike. lol. I definitely think I'm going to use this loop as a base when I start running longer distances. I can easily add a variety of loops with the park trails for more distance. :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Late Night Text Convo with Liz

Just a quick follow up on last night's shenanigans ...

I was cautious when Mike started going out with Liz. I had met Mike through his ex before we started working together and became friends. When Mike and his ex split up, I was still good friends with both and wasn't exactly sure how to deal with Liz coming into the picture (even though Mike's ex had already moved on and began dating the man she's now married to). Mike thought Liz and I would be good friends so he's been pushing us together ever since. And we are, to an extent.

Apparently we're good enough friends that things like this happen ...
Last night around 2am, I get a text.

Liz: I have learned you can't make oatmeal without hot water.

Me: Oh? Why are you using cold water?

Liz: There's no hot water at the sink right now (M's parents are remodeling their kitchen) and I don't want to heat any up because M is asleep on the couch less than 10 feet away. Anything would make noise and you know how cranky he is about getting woken up.

Me: Lol. Yea, he likes his sleep. I wouldn't put it past him to kill you and hide the body before everyone woke up.

Liz: God help us when we have kids. I'm doomed to be the one who's up all night while he wears earplugs.

Me: *gigglesnort* Ya know, it IS still oatmeal, even with cold water.

Liz: Naw, more like cold,  not-quite-soggy, over-sugared processed oats. Not as good. Hey! It's a new breakfast cereal! I'll make millions! Ok, maybe just hundreds. Or just run through our savings and put us into insane debt.

Me: I'm sure if you told Mike exactly what you just wrote to me, he'd forgive you for waking him up while heating up some water in the microwave. LMAO

I swear I could write a book with all the crazy texts and phone calls I get after midnight. I'll make millions! Ok, maybe just hundreds. Or just run through my savings and put myself into insane debt. lol. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2 Runs and a Saucony Surprise!

I'm a day behind on my blogging ... again. Oops. Even with my compulsive list-making and organizing, things still get left in the dust. Oh well. At least now I can cover both yesterday AND today's runs. Yep, you read that right. I ran 2 DAYS IN A ROW.

Yesterday's plan was a 4 mile run with 2 miles at "tempo". My stomach was doing much better, thank goodness, but my knee was aching when I woke up so I was a little concerned about that. I decided I was going to take the first 2 miles easy (somewhere in the low 12/ high 11 minute range) and see how everything felt. If my knee felt good at the end of mile 2, I was going to run my tempo miles in the mid- to high 10s. Well, once again, my knee felt better the longer I ran. Weird. Anyway, I knew I'd be turning a corner right around the end of the 2nd mile so I went for it once I made the turn. I didn't look at my Garmin once I kicked up the pace. I tried to use the third mile to let my body get used to the faster pace and then pushed it in the 4th mile. Considering I started slow to be nice to my knee, I was pleased with my pace.

I hadn't planned on running today. I usually don't run 2 days in a row because the last time I did, my shin splints got so gnarly I had to take a very painful week off completely just to be able to walk without pain (stupid treadmill). But, when my friend Liz called and said she wanted to go to Second Sole's group run tonight, I relented. But, in full disclosure, her husband (who I'm actually better friends with) called me about an hour before I would have to leave and practically begged me to go with her. Poor Mikey. *giggle*snort*giggle* He married someone who's just as active as him and now he can't get a day off. Just imagine me sitting here rolling off my chair laughing. No joke.

Anyway, I went. There's a great little 3 mile loop in Levis Commons (where Second Sole Toledo is located) that Second Sole uses for weekly group runs and the occasional race. It loops through the commercial, industrial, and residential parts of the development, which kept the run interesting. And there was JUST enough light between the occasional street lamp and the ambient glow from all the buildings that I never felt like I couldn't see. Like I expected as soon as she asked me to go, Liz took off and left me in the dust before we even reached the first mile marker (we both knew she was going to do this, so WHY couldn't she go on her own? Believe me, I thought about this while I was running). I didn't have my iPod with me, so I got to enjoy the quiet and focus on my form. A couple people had their dogs with them, too, so that was pretty entertaining.

The one thing I didn't mention so far is that Saucony and Second Sole were doing a raffle for 2 jackets tonight. Saucony is sponsoring this month's group runs so they have fun stuff going on every Thursday. Back to tonight, by the time I got back to the store, Liz was standing outside the doors with a $#itty grin on her face. When I asked her what the face was for, her only response was to giggle "You can thank me any time now" and drag me by the shirt sleeve to the back of the store where they had the jacket winners posted.
Saucony Nomad jacket
Want to guess who the winner of the Saucony Nomad jacket in ViZiPRO Orange was? THIS GIRL, RIGHT HERE. I was just a bit in shock and may or may not have told Liz I would slap the $#!@ out of her if she somehow was pranking me. The Saucony rep overheard the whole this and thought is was hilarious for some reason. He went over to the rack and grabbed a couple sizes and we got me fitted and happy in no time at all. I LOVE it. If I wasn't so strict about not running the day before a long run, I'd be jumping into my running shoes first thing in the morning and heading out to test this baby out. Lol. I very nearly smacked Liz as we were pulling out of Levis because she was still gloating over talking me into coming tonight. She even called Mikey and put him on speakerphone and told HIM all about it while I was driving. Yea, I'm never going to live this down. It's going to come up EVERY time she's in town and I say I don't want to go out and do something. Lol. If stuff like this happens every time I go out with Liz, then I'm ok with it.
A VERY excited Jess! :D
Something I just realized ... weird ... I have a habit of painting just ONE of my fingernails a fun color. It's a bit of an inside joke between myself and some of my former classmates. If you can't see it in the picture above, my left thumb nail is currently painted an awesome shade of orange. Here I was thinking I was just being clever covering up the fact that my nail was turning orange from peeling oranges the last 2 weeks (I always use that nail for peeling oranges for some reason). :)

Alright. I ran to the tv to turn on Vampire Diaries as soon as I got home (and then Grey's ... and then Private Practice) and now I'm STARVING. I don't want to cook anything since the parental units have already gone to bed, but there are some hard-boiled eggs, oranges (hehe), and Trix cereal calling my name. G'night. :)

- - -
Today, I'm appreciating my friends. Mainly Mikey and Liz. Both are very good at pushing me into deciding if I really DON'T want to do something or if I'm just being lazy.

And I'm appreciating my mind and imagination. I could have been upset that Liz ran ahead of me, in the dark and sans-iPod, but I chose to keep positive and find other ways to keep myself entertained and engaged during the run. And it turned out to be a pretty great night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Hard "Easy" Run and V-Day Snow

Yesterday was just one of those days you wish you could fast-forward through. I woke up with a monster headache and it took FOR-EV-ER (who knows what movie THAT is from?) for the pain meds to kick in. I decided to just work from home since I didn't want to wait for the meds to start working, fight for a parking spot, and then sit in the lab and listen to the ongoing construction, possibly bringing back and making worse my headache. My stomach has been iffy all weekend too (since Saturday morning) and yesterday wasn't any different. Despite all this, I decided I needed to get in my 5-mile "easy" run. Another "new" route. This one took me past several friends' houses and barns. Kim @ (Just) Trying is for Little Girls has her cow running buddies and I have my horses. I slowed down and got off the road at the corner of 1 friend's property and went over to say hi to Joker since he was in the enclosure closest to the road. This horse cracks me up. He couldn't care less about people or other animals ... unless you whistle for him (yes, like a dog) and then you're BEST buddies. I whistled as I got up next to the fence and he immediately perked up and came over to get his nose scratched. When I took off again, he trotted the length of the fence with me and threw a whinnying and stomping fit when he couldn't follow me any further. [Maybe I'll have to bring him a treat or something later today.] Anyway, this run was SLOW and not exactly painful, but certainly NOT comfortable. I had a stitch in my side less than a mile into the run and it lasted the WHOLE time. But, I never walked (except when I was scratching Joker). I never found a comfortable breathing rhythm, and believe me when I tell you I TRIED. I chose not to look down at my Garmin because I was just concentrating on putting one foot in front of another and finishing the stupid run ... oh, and playing an obnoxious game of leap frog with the mail truck on the highest-traffic road on this route. SO fun. NOT. I realized my legs were loosening up during the 3rd mile, but I didn't realize I was picking up the pace:
Not too shabby, I guess. I was practically dry-heaving by the time I got home (sorry for the tmi ... my stomach REALLY didn't appreciate my determination to get in my run). I don't think I could have done it if I hadn't taken Sunday as a complete rest day. As soon as I got home, I scarfed down some oatmeal and a banana, showered in the hottest water I could coax from our pathetic water heater, and crawled in bed for the rest of the day with my laptop and remote control. At least I caught up on my Downton Abbey (ADDICTED!) and Big Bang Theory (also addicted). :)

I promise I won't rant about "Singles Awareness Day". I gave up hating the single life years ago. I'm just indifferent now. I've taken the path of "If it happens, cool. If not, I have plenty to do in my own life before I even think about settling down." My resolve seems to be tested on a weekly basis with all the people I know getting married and/or pregnant, but whatever. But Happy Valentines Day to those of you who ARE celebrating! My mom, as always, bought my brother and I V-Day cards. For the first time EVER, though, she's finally listened and nixed the insane amounts of candy in favor of gift cards. Panera (YUMMY!) and Kroger (grocery store) for me. I love my mom. :)

Another V-Day present from Mother Nature ... SNOW! There was almost an inch on the ground (and still coming down) when I went out to my car this morning. On a whim, I checked the tv before I left the house. My home school district had a 2-hour delay. So did the in-town districts (and it normally takes a MAJOR storm to delay them!). Lucky boogers. I understood why once I got out onto the road. I don't think twice when our neighborhood's road is crappy. Even when a plow truck DOES make an appearance, they rarely do a very good job clearing the pavement (we still have ice and packed snow from Friday night/ Saturday morning). Anyway, I didn't see ONE plow truck on my normally 25-30-minute commute or any evidence they had been out AT ALL. Now, I'm pretty comfortable driving in the snow. My dad took great care when I was learning how to drive to teach me how to react to just about any weather condition (Learning to drive from a semi-driver = best idea ever. Also, a wide open icy parking lot and purposely spinning yourself so you can learn how to pull out of one = SO much fun!). It's the people AROUND me who scare the crap out of me. There was no way I could have gone over 40 mph on this one road (I have all-wheel drive and I was still slipping around) and some a-hole rode my back bumper for over 2 miles and then passed me, wheels slipping and spinning and car not-exactly-straight. I passed him about another mile down the road with his rear end slid into a shallow drainage ditch next to the road. *rolls eyes* If the weather guy is correct (and that's a 50/50 chance), we'll be up in the high 30s/ low 40s by this afternoon and the snow will be gone by Thursday. Boo!

Ok, that's it. I'm going to go peek my head out of my basement lab and see what the weather is doing ... Being down here SERIOUSLY messes with my head. I can go an entire week without seeing sunlight if I'm working on a project and I bring my lunch every day. Another "fancy" coffee (according to my department chair/ professor) sounds pretty darn good too. Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturday and Sherry

I was SO excited when it started snowing Friday night. If you don't believe me, ask my dad. He was making fun of me because I decided to act like a kid and ran outside to get the mail in jeans and a sweatshirt "so I could play in the snow". Yea. I don't think I was this excited about snow when I WAS a kid. Anyway ... It really isn't Winterfest without snow (and some of the activities/ contests are a little more challenging without the white stuff), so I was happy. Plus, I wanted to run in the snow, dangit!

My knee felt fine (thank goodness that seems to be over ... for now), but my stomach wasn't happy as I was getting ready to head into town for the 5k. I wasn't nervous, really, and I ate the normal stuff, so I wasn't sure what to attribute it to. And I knew it was going to be cold, but I wasn't prepared for HOW cold when I ran between my car and Cyclewerks to sign in for the race. Yikes. I knew I was a little under-dressed for the weather, but I also knew my upper body would still over-heat and my legs would still go numb no matter HOW much clothing I wore. Plus, if I threw on another layer, it would cover up Sherry's bib. I spent some time Thursday night gluing the bib to a bright sheet of paper and then "laminating" it with packaging tape so it would stand up to the weather and stand OUT against my gray vest. There were a couple other women there who were wearing their bibs too and we took a minute before the race to talk and think about Sherry, her family, friends, and how this all affected our world. After the race, a couple other runners who had seen our bibs came up and were asking me about it. One of the guys told me he wished he had heard about it sooner so he could have worn one too. He mentioned his recover run for today with friends so I suggested he check out SUAR's blog and print off a bib and wear it then, if he wanted.

My age group award.
Like I need ANOTHER coffee
mug. lol.
I tried for almost 20 minutes earlier this week to figure out what route they would have us run. BOY was I wrong. We started in the park, ran west past Cyclewerks, flipped around and got on the W-C trail (basically doubling back what we had JUST run), went up to Cemetery Rd, did a loop in a neighborhood, and came back down W-C, finishing right in the park right next to Generals Ice Cream. [If I can get my Garmin to upload later, maybe I'll post a map of the route. I had it running so I could watch my pace, but I forgot to hit "stop" at the end so the numbers are a little funky.] I wouldn't have had any problems with the course, and probably could have PRed except for one thing .... ICE! The whole trail except for the 1/4 mile "in town" was solid ice so we had to run IN THE SNOW on the uneven ground on the side of the trail. AND, the road wasn't plowed, so it was a mix of ice, slush, and packed snow. Sheesh. It's amazing nobody slipped and got hurt. I guess that's why they make us sign those silly waivers. Had I known about the trail conditions, I would have worn my Adidas trail shoes instead of my Sauconys! Ugh. I was a whole mix of emotions when I got to the last stretch of the race and I could SEE the numbers ticking on the clock. I started sprinting when I saw my PR time (31:16) go by, but I still ended up with an unofficial time of 32:14. 2nd in my age group. The official results will be up online in a couple days and I can scrutinize my stats then. Not bad considering the conditions. I should have gone back today to get a picture to show you just how bad the trail really was, but I'm quite comfortable in my nice warm house, thank you. And the parents are out of town until tonight so I've been on a cleaning frenzy since I woke up.

I had contemplated going out for another 3-miler after the race since my training plan called for 6 miles yesterday, but when I got home and finally thawed out, I decided it would be better to just jump on the treadmill. I didn't want to go back out in sweaty clothes when it was that cold and I JUST did laundry so I didn't want to get another set of warm clothes dirty. I figured I wouldn't do the whole 3 miles and I'd run at a pace even slower than my already-slow training pace, but I just wanted to burn some more calories and enjoy the quiet of the house. Since I was already getting hungry again (anyone else eat right after a run and then get seriously hungry AGAIN 2-3 hours later?), I decided I was just going to do a half hour. Coincidently, that's how much of "The Ugly Truth" was left on Lifetime (I adore Gerard Butler). lol.

I actually spent a lot of time thinking about Sherry while on the treadmill. I never knew her, just through SUAR, but she seemed like an amazing woman. I don't know how to say anything that hasn't been said over and over again since this happened. All I can do is offer my thoughts and prayers. Remember Sherry for the wonderful woman she was - wife, mother, teacher, runner - and not for the tragic and horrific way her life ended. I truly believe that is the BEST way to honor her. May she be at peace and her body be returned to her loved ones soon.
What I looked at while on the treadmill.
Since I didn't get one from Winterfest.
That paper border is actually BRIGHT yellow, so it REALLY stood out.

When I got off the treadmill, I went into Maumee and indulged myself:
Taco Bell. Dinner of champions. Oh, how I love Baja Blast Mountain Dew.
Ok, make that indulgence 2 or 3-fold ...
Dessert. Vanilla fudge and my FAVORITE wine.
 Oh, and I made an addition to my gnome collection while I was at the store tonight [reference my Christmas post if you don't understand the joke]:
I'm going to leave him in the corner by the front door for when the parents get home and see how long it takes them to notice him and for dad to realize this is the one he DIDN'T buy lil bro and I for Christmas. :)

So, a very thoughtful Saturday. Not bad. Not especially good. Thoughtful. And thankful.

- - -
I'm appreciative of my health and safety and the health and safety of my loves ones, wherever they may be.

PS - I'm still in awe of how many people are finding my post of fab ab february from a google search. Really, people, that calendar is EVERYWHERE. Also, I want to meet whoever it was that found me by googling "Holy sore muscles batman" ... especially since I've only said that (on this blog. I say it in my head all the time) a couple times. LMAO!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Catching up.

I know, I've been quiet for a couple days. I'm sorry. It wasn't that I didn't have anything to say (the day I have NOTHING to say is the day they put me 6 feet under, and even then I'll probably be watching the whole thing from somewhere else and making comments). It was more that the things I needed to say weren't for the electronic world. Certain things outside bloggyland had to come first. I wrote pages and pages in my personal journal, but nothing here. Actually, I worked more in my writing journal in the past 4 days than I had in the entire month of January. lol. So, I guess I need to catch up on this week. Sorry if this goes a little long ...

Feb. 6 @ Farnsworth
Monday and Wednesday's runs ... I've been feeling for a while that running on the paved W-C Trail so often was kind of spoiling me so I decided to head back to my old summer haunt, Farnsworth Metropark and the canal trail, for my 4 miles. I LOVE this trail. If I park in the lot closest to town (Roche de Bout) and head southwest (really the only way TO go since you're at the far end of the trail system), you get the best mix of straight, curves, pavement, gravel, dirt, and small hills you'll find on the whole trail. It was a GORGEOUS day with sunshine and just enough of a breeze to make me think twice about wearing a windbreaker (but I didn't). I had decided that I didn't want to look at my Garmin at all for pace and I had a pretty good idea of where I needed to turn around and head back for my distance. I was barely a mile into the run when I decided that I was right about the W-C Trail spoiling me. I toughed it out, though, and was pleasantly surprised when I got back to the car and looked at my Garmin. I was even happier when I got home and uploaded the info to my laptop and checked out my mile times. Honestly, I was expecting 20ish seconds slower and much more variation between miles. Even with the mud and dog-walker traffic, it was a fun run and I think I'm going to get back to running there more often. All the off-road work can only make me a stronger runner, right?

A little while after I got home Monday evening, my right knee started bothering me. It was a spot BEHIND my actual knee, towards the outside. If you know what this is, could you PLEASE tell me? I've had some discomfort here before, but never THIS bad. I wore my crappy old knee brace the rest of the night and all of Tuesday just to hold it steady incase I just tweaked it or something running on the trail Monday (wouldn't be the first time). I get so many aches and pains that I don't like going to the dr or even calling my aunt (who's a nurse) unless I KNOW it's serious (as in, I can't walk, crazy bruising, too painful to sleep, etc.).

My knee felt a bit better on Wednesday and I had speedwork on my training plan. I decided to risk it since this was my last run before my 5k this Saturday. I ran the first 2.5ish miles very slow a deliberately (~12:00/mi) to make sure my knee (and ankle) were ok. Seriously, every 5 minutes I was evaluating if my knee felt ok to keep going since the further I went, the further I was going to have to go to get home. Amazingly, the more I ran, the better they felt. Huh?! Since they were feeling ok, I decided to go for my speedwork. I ran the next mile alternating around 9:00/mi and 12:00/mi, using the electric poles along the trail as markers (they're between 0.16 and 0.2 miles apart, depending on how far you are from intersecting roads). The last half mile was run around 11:00/mi, as close to my 5k race pace as I could do safely through "downtown" with the traffic. Final time was right around 49 minutes, which I'm happy with since I had to spend so much time and attention on my knee. My knee was a little achy this morning, but I think I'll be just dandy for the race Saturday if I completely take it easy today and tomorrow. :)

I finished off my tubes of Zipfizz earlier this week and I decided I'd buy some more of the flavors I REALLY liked. Well, even though the company's website says they sell it, my WalMart doesn't carry the tubes, just the shots. Ugh. So, I looked up where else I could buy them in the area. Costco (which I don't have a membership for and I'm not getting one JUST for this stuff) and Vitamin Shoppe. Right. Thank goodness it's sold on Amazon. I'll just have to add it to my "wish list" and only buy it when I have enough Amazon credits. It's either #2 or #3 on my list right now. I think my pull-up bar is #1 (but that could change).

I've been keeping up on by Fab Ab February, have you? Like I said before, I'm doing this in addition to my #plankaday. I'm excited to say I've finally reached a new PR for planking. I've held a plank for a whole minute 3 days in a row now! I felt like I was going to puke afterwards the first time, but I did it! *happy dance* Also, apparently a LOT of people have been finding my blog the past couple days by googling "fab ab february". I think my daily visits have quadrupled the last 2 days. So HI if you're new here. Welcome to the nut house. lol.

I'm still working on the changes to the blog. The new "About Me" should be done within the next week. I've been working on it a little bit every night. Now that my crazy emotional outburst is running its course ("details" in the appreciation challenge for today), I can get a little clarity and be more realistic about it all. I know a little bit better what I want and how to make it happen.

- - -
I know I haven't been posting it on here, but I HAVE been working on my Appreciation Challenge. Every day, I've been writing down something about myself that I liked or I've been proud of. I've been appreciating the people around me. I won't talk about it on here too much, but I'm slowly coming out the other end of a multi-year tunnel of grief and emotional issues [see the old version of my "about me" ... before I take it down]. While I was writing my Super Bowl post Sunday night, I was on the phone with a good friend and something he said started me thinking about individual instances where friends have been there for me, helping me through tough times. As soon as I got off the phone with him, I started writing thank you's. I've written 10 letters so far. And cried while writing every. single. one. Most of them will never find the person they were written to, but it felt good to just write them, to acknowledge that person's influence in my life. I am able to recognize that person' effect on my life the last couple years, during my darkest times. I would be nowhere near the person I am today if not for my family and friends. I'll never stop appreciating them, but it's time for me to start stepping out of the shadow of the last couple years. It's a chapter in my life, not the whole book. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday and Changes to My Bloggy World

I was at loose ends yesterday since I STRICTLY enforce my Sunday rest day (stupid shins) ... for now. Fab Ab February has Sundays designated as rest days too, but at least I did my #plankaday to keep me straight with those pesky @plankpolice. Instead of going crazy with boredom (or working on my Masters paper or picking out a new book to start reading), I started cleaning. Even worse, I started PLANNING cleaning! After stripping every bed in the house of its sheets and starting laundry, I wrote out a list of every major cleaning task in the house (that my parents would let me do), ball-parked a time and frequency, and actually wrote out a freakin' schedule! Yea, besides spreadsheets, organizing and planning are my bread and butter. If I were more outgoing and friendly, I could have made a career out of it.

Dad finally called a cease fire to my craziness when he came inside from washing the cars (somehow mom and I convinced him to wash our SUVs too when he had only planned on washing his truck) and saw that Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl was on! Since we don't have a dog right now, we have to get our fuzzy cuteness quota SOMEHOW! OH MY GOODNESS, YOU GUYS! THOSE PUPPIES WERE FREAKING ADORABLE! And the piggy pep squad?! Squee! I'll admit, I even logged onto Twitter and was following along with Meep the bird's tweets (hehe) ... So sorry if you follow me and were confused by the bombardment of randomness. lol.

I hadn't planned on caring who won the game last night since my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers weren't playing (thanks for nothing, Ben), but I was quickly reminded how obnoxious Tom Brady is. Oh, and he went to the school "up north". That would be University of Michigan for those of you not initiated into the Buckeye/Wolverine rivalry (Born and raised in the Toledo area ... right in the heart of the border battle, baby!). Yes, TEHNICALLY both teams had 2 former-Wolverines playing, but Tom Brady tipped my favor for the NY Giants.

Did anyone else think the game flew by surprisingly fast? One minute, Brady was being pressured into giving up a safety (his first play of the game - HA!) and then there were 2 minutes left until halftime. Sheesh!

Whether you like Madonna's new single or not (and I'm definitely in the "not" category here), you have to admit she's an amazing singer and performer and that halftime show was one of the better ones over the last couple years. I love Cee Lo and LMFAO, but I could take or leave Nikki Minaj and M.I.A (I actually had to look up who the heck she was!).

During the second half, I had just as much fun watching the game as I did watching my mom spazz over the score. If NY would have just kicked the stupid extra point instead of botching the 2-point conversion, mom would have won $25 in her office pool! She was NOT happy. Dad and I kept shifting our eyes back and forth between the tv and the bowl of chex mix sitting next to mom. Lol.

Ted and I, Yellowstone NP. August 2010
As you may have noticed, I'm trying to make some changes to my blog. I want it to be more personal - more of a reflection of who I am and the journey I'm on. I threw together the new banner in about 10 minutes last night when I couldn't sleep (which was when I started writing this post too), and there is still some things I want to work on, but I'm liking where's its heading. In regards to the banner, thanks (x 1 million) to Ted for being an amazing friend and taking the picture (Badlands National Park, August 2010), kevinandamanda for the AWESOME font, and school instructors over the years for INSISTING I know how to use Adobe Illustrator. Anyways, I need to either make it a bit wider or, at the very least, figure out how the center the darn thing. And I have NO IDEA what the heck is going on with the background yet. I just threw in a generic texture from the template library for now. If you have any tips or suggestions, let's hear 'em! Seriously.

I know I've been trying to keep this blog as much about health and fitness as I can, but I've had a couple questions about my "101 Things in 1001 Days" Project, also known as a "Day Zero" Project. If there's interest, I'll gladly devote a tab to it with info and updates on my progress. Just like with my running and diet, putting it out there keeps me accountable. What do you think? Is there any interest?

Anything else you would like to see on here? I'm really trying to make 2012 the year I change my life for the better, or at least make a huge step in the right direction, and I want to be able to share that with all of you in the best ways possible. I'm already working on re-writing my "About Me" to better fit who I am and who I want to be.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Eh ... an ok day.

I was SOOO excited when I woke up the first time this morning and realized it had SNOWED! It was only a light dusting ... but SNOW! Since it wasn't time for me to get up yet, I rolled over and fell back asleep for another hour and a half, hoping it'd still be there when I went out for my run. No such luck. It was completely GONE by the time I got up again. Grr. I wasn't in any hurry to get up and go out for my run after that, especially since dad and brother left the house early to go donate blood [which means mom and I had a nice quiet house].

My training plan called for 4 steady miles today, but I wanted to go for 5 since I knew my 6-mile run next Saturday will be nixed in favor of racing the Winterfest 5k. I decided I didn't want to look at my Garmin at all and covered it up with my sleeve as soon as I got going. I knew the distances along the village streets and trail cross-roads well enough that I could approximate how far I needed to go before turning around. When I finally did uncover my Garmin, I was already at 4.68 miles. Awesome. For not watching my pace at all, I'm not disappointed in my mile times. I know the first mile should have been slower, but I had to sprint across a couple roads and driveways in the village downtown area.

I've tried 3 of the Zipfizz flavors so far: Orange soda, grape, and citrus. I don't know that I'd go out of my way to buy orange soda or grape, but I really liked citrus. It reminded me of lemonade that someone snuck some orange juice into. I THINK I noticed a boost in my energy, but I've still been drinking my Diet Coke in the mornings. I'm going to try it tomorrow WITHOUT my normal morning caffeine kick. We'll see what happens. I'm going out tonight so I'm going to be TIRED tomorrow if I don't sleep in late enough. I AM loving the bottle, though. When not filled with Zipfizz, it's been put into the rotation of my water bottles with measurements on their side (making sure I drink enough water during the day).

Did you join in on Fab Ab February? I think I've settled into at least 4 reps of the written workout. Today's is 25 sit-ups (I've been doing bicycle crunches), 6 push ups, and a 20-second plank. I've been switching up regular and side planks.

- - -

I am proud of my ...
Heritage. I'm very proud of my German/ Czech/ Irish/ Native American background. A little closer to present day, I'm honored to be the granddaughter of 2 Korean War veterans, 3 if you count my father's mother who worked in the armory while waiting for Grandpa to come home from the war. I don't know a LOT about my family's earlier generations, but these things I do know and I'm very proud of. It saddens me that I've learned more about my Grandparents since they passed than I did in the time I had with them, but I'm still so thankful I had them in my life for so long. I had all 4 of my grand parents and my great-grandmother up until my freshman year of college. My childhood would have been completely different if they hadn't been here. Every little thing I learn about them just makes me appreciate them and the time I had with them all the more.

Who I appreciate ...
Whoever invented pinterest. It's the newest time waster, but a great way to share recipes, crafts, giggles, ideas, and motivation! I can spend HOURS on there just looking. If you want an invitation to join (and don't want to wait around for an invite from pinterest itself), let me know. Or, if you're already on the bandwagon, click the button on the right sidebar and check me out!

I like that I can ...
Easily make friends with just about any remotely-friendly animal. I suspect it's a trait I picked up from my dad. Most of the dogs in the neighborhood love me (and wait for me to pet them when I go by on my run). Also, I'm always hanging out with the horses when I'm up at camp. It's natural for me to be found wherever the animals are. lol. Our last dog was SUPPOSED to be a "family pet", but he was more attached to my dad and I than anyone else. He was super-protective of both of us and ran to us when a thunderstorm or something else bothered him. When one of us wasn't home, he'd wander back and forth between the person home's side and the front door, waiting for the other.

Who I appreciate ...
Gustav Heineman, the founder of Heineman Winery. They make my favorite wine of all time, Lake Erie Pink Catawba. It's local, delicious, cheap, and STRONG. Oh, and it's award-winning. :) The grapes are grown on the Lake Erie Islands and the nearby mainland and the wine can only be purchased directly from the winery out on South Bass Island (Put-In-Bay, Ohio) or from the Anderson's stores in the Toledo area, as far as I know. And the winery will ONLY ship to Ohio. If you go in person, there's a really neat crystal cave beneath the building that you can tour too! My day can be absolute crap and one glass of this while curled up in bed reading or watching a movie and I'm a deleriously-happy girl. I hadn't had a bottle in a couple weeks, but mom came home with some the other night because she knew I was having a really stressful day at school (stupid inter-departmental mail LOST my graduation application and several other grad students' thesis paperwork). I'm slowly working my way through trying ALL of Heineman's wines, but Pink Catawba will always be my favorite (even if it's just because the memories of this wine and my 23rd birthday out at PIB (-: )

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fab Ab February and Zipfizz

I've seen this calendar floating around Pinterest and Twitter for about a week now, but it has finally found it's way into the blogosphere: Fab Ab February.
For someone who has never done much core work or is just getting back into it, this is awesome. Since I'm not exactly in that category, I'm adjusting this plan for myself. I'll still be doing what is in the plan, but I'm going to do it MULTIPLE TIMES! I haven't decided how many yet since I just jumped on the bandwagon last night (hm, I seem to have jumped into a lot of things yesterday), but I'm thinking it'll probably be 4 or 5.

Another thing to check out on twitter is #plankaday. I've been participating for a couple weeks now and those darn @plankpolice have already caught me not logging my planks once. In my defense, I was logging into Twitter from my Blackberry (the mobile site, not the app) and I WAS tweeting. It just wasn't going through. *grumblegrumble*.

A while back, Steph @ Run On! hosted a Zipfizz giveaway and I was one of the winners. And guess what came via UPS last night ...
I don't know how Robbie, our UPS guy, found our porch and doorbell last night in the dark without hurting himself (we hadn't turned the outside lights on since we were all home already and weren't expecting anyone). But, then again, he HAS been here a LOT the past couple weeks. Between my running/ Amazon stuff, mom's stuff from catalogs, and dad and bro's new parts for the motorcycle, we've been getting packages either from UPS or the postal service pretty much every other day. LOL. I was so confused when Robbie said the package was for me, but then I read the side of the box and did a little happy dance. As always, be just laughed at me. Anyway, I've never tried Zipfizz before so I'm a little excited. My first bottle is in front of me right now (orange soda flavor) and I have 2 different coupons from Zipfizz in my email inbox for WalMart as soon as I decide which flavors I like the most. I was digging around on their website last night too and I'm LOVING that they WANT you to send back the tubes for recycling when you get 100! I'd probably do that even if they WEREN'T offering a water bottle. I think I'm just going to keep the box the bottle came in and put them back in there. :)

I'm really excited to see if I could take these on my backpacking/camping trips. Normally I can't function in the morning without my caffeine or energy drink. When I'm home, it's normally Diet Coke [parents aren't fans of the smell of coffee]. At camp or the bf's, it's coffee, but I need creamer and stuff to make it palatable (can only drink black coffee when forced at knife-point). I've tried taking canisters and packets of mixes on the trail before, and some are ok [G2 in the single-service packets = live-saver], but this MAY be an easier option. We shall see.

- - -
I appreciate my ...
Hands! I saw the Kohler commercial last night with the "Hands can do so many things" song and it got me thinking. My hands have so many scars, but each of them is a story, a chapter in my life. I have callous scars from my years of rowing, dog bite [the one and only time Patches EVER snapped at me], burn from working concessions for my friend's student government campaign, burn form the first time I made dinner with my "bf", the scar(s) from the surgeries on my finger after breaking it playing flag football, and so many more. It simply blows my mind to think about all the things my hands have done over the last 25+ years.

Who I appreciate ...
Another corny one, but Brad Paisley! I normally turn on my stereo to listen to Bob & Tom as I'm getting ready in the morning, but I accidently had the country station on this morning [stupid tiny buttons on the remote]. I wasn't feeling great when I got up, but as soon as I heard Brad Paisley's "Old Alabama", I started smiling and singing along. I love that song. I grew up listening to Alabama, have ALL their albums on my iPod, and even got to see their farewell tour when they played at the Lenawee County Fair years ago. Thank goodness mom had already left for work since I'm sure I looked and sounded like a fool, but it made my morning!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January Recap, 3 Mile Day, Garbage, and Appreciation Challenge

According to my running journal, in January I've walked 12.36 miles (this is basically my warm ups and cool downs) and ran 53.64 miles in 10 hours 11 minutes 12 seconds (10:11:12. I seriously giggled like a kid when I saw that). Anyway, I should have absolutely no problem hitting 600 running miles in 2012 if I keep up this pace, especially since I'm planning to start upping my mileage. I'm already tentatively training for a 7k in March and I'd LIKE to be able to do a half marathon by the end of 2012, though that's completely up in the air. No matter what, I'm really enjoying my runs right now. Now that I've started to look at the runs themselves as enjoyable, and not just a means to an end, I'm noticing the feeling of strength in my body (and mind) during runs. I've had a lot to think about this month and contemplating big things on my runs seems to be helping me keep my calm.

Excuse the blurry. Silly camera.
Today's run was an easy 3 miles. The temperature didn't get up to 50* like the weathermen were saying, but it was around 43* and cloudy when I went out (still awesome, though). Since the temperature was borderline and I didn't feel like dirtying my last clean long-sleeve tech shirt (I don't want to do laundry until Sunday!), I pulled out my nifty new Pearl Izumi thermal arm warmers. Finally I got a chance to try them out! :) It was weird knowing that I only had to run 3 easy miles today since I've been running 4 miles so often lately. Like I said the other day, I'm tentatively training for a 7k in March instead of just working towards a 5k. It'll be interesting to see how much this difference affects my 5k time for the Winterfest 5k next weekend (maybe a new PR?). Back to today. I decided, once again, to pace myself by feeling and to only look down at my Garmin when I heard it beep for each mile. I REALLY don't want to jinx it, but I think I'm getting halfway decent at this! My first mile was 11:33/mile. The second was 11:14/mile and the third was 10:43/mile. Total run was 3 miles in 33:29.5 (that's a 11:10/mile pace).  

There is ONE THING that bothers me EVERY SINGLE TIME I run outside. Garbage on the side of the road. It isn't so bad inside the village limits of our little community, but JUST outside limits, in the township, is HORRIBLE. Can't look down without seeing paper, cigarette buts, and cans. Every day I want to go home and come back with 2 garbage bags - one for garbage and one for recycling - and just walk that day's route all over again. Actually, I could probably double the amount of aluminum I turn in for cash at the recycling center at the end of each month. And, believe me, you can tell the difference between something falling out of an old garbage can and something that was thrown out of a moving car (usually beer cans around here). It infuriates me that people do this and that other people ALLOW this crap to sit in their yard. Have these people no pride in their lawns? Knowing this area, if I DID ever go out and start cleaning up the roadsides, someone would probably call the cops and say I was stealing or trespassing. Ugh.

Amanda at Run To The Finish is hosting a 30-Day Appreciation Challenge this month and I finally decided this morning that I would participate too. {HERE} is her intro to the challenge and {HERE} is today's post on the kickoff. Since I don't do as well with challenges where I can't set up mathematical spreadsheets to track my progress, I'm going to be loosely following the worksheet Amanda has posted in the kickoff post. For every day, I'll be completing a "Self Appreciation" and a "Who I Appreciate" prompt. The worksheet doesn't have as many self-appreciation ideas as days for the challenge, so I haven't decided if I'm going to stop after I've run out, recycle, or work on some of my own, but I have 3 weeks to think about that.

- - -
~February 1, 2012~

Self Appreciation:
I love my ... eyes. They're technically green, but there is a ring of gold on the inner-most edge of the iris and the shade of green changes kind of like a mood ring. Sometimes it looks more gray, sometimes more blue, and sometimes vividly green. They're seriously one of my favorite parts of myself. :)

Who I Appreciate:
A little corny, but I'm appreciating the crew of Ghost Hunters/ The Atlantic Paranormal Society tonight. Wednesday is new episode night for GH and it's always a welcome mid-week break. Plus, I've had some experiences of my own and hearing other peoples' stories makes me feel not so alone. Also, Jason is always posting pics and videos of his 3 Aussies on facebook and twitter and they never fail to make me smile! :)