Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Now What?

In the days that have passed since the marathon, I have gotten the question, "Now What?" quite a bit.  I guess the people in my life know me well and know I always have something that I am working towards.

Except right now, I don't.  Sure, I am still running, but this is sort of my 'off season'.  I want to continue to run 2-3 days a week, with a long run on Saturday of around 6-10 miles, but running will definitely not be my focus until next June when I start training for the Chicago marathon.  I kind of hate not having a race to train for, but I know my body needs a break - and I need a less structured schedule.  So the months between now and June will be more about cross training and less about obsessively counting/analyzing the miles I run each month.  I am tossing around the idea of getting a gym membership, as I miss being able to go to classes and I'd like access to a pool...  but I could also make my condo gym work and save myself a lot of money over the coming months.  Decisions, decisions.

The next thing on the horizon for me is CFA studying.  Yes, it's almost that time of year again.  I will start studying for the 3rd and FINAL level on December 26th.  It's a bit surreal to think that I will begin studying again in just under 2 months!  I am hoping that this final study season is not as hard on me as the previous 2 were.  I have talked about the challenges of studying on my blog, and my family and closest friends have definitely gotten a sense of how hard it is on me.  Suffice it to say, it is harder than anything I've done.  Harder than my travel schedule for work.  Harder than training for a marathon.  Harder than obtaining an MBA.  I am hoping that knowing it is the last level will help with that somewhat, but I also keep thinking of the comment my former boss's wife makes about his last spring of studying.  She said, "He studied so hard, it's like he broke something."  I felt a little bit broken last spring when studying for level 2, so I know what she is talking about.  And I know I'll likely study even HARDER this time around as there is no way I am going to risk having to study for this test another year.  I NEED to be done with it!

But - it's still 2 months away.  So my focus now turns to enjoying the next 2 months as much as possible.  I want to fill those 2 months with time with friends and weekend morning spent sleeping in and lounging in bed.  I want to have more dinners with family and friends, and fill up my weekends with fun activities, like trips to the book store with my nephews.  I want to go ice skating in December and bake banana bread on a quiet Sunday afternoon.  I want to try new recipes, eat dinners at my table, and relish the fact that my table is not covered with textbooks.  I want to look at my calendar each week and enjoy the fact that I don't have study hours planned 5-6 days of the week.

Time has a way of flying by if we don't intentionally and purposely acknowledge the good things in life.  So that is what I intend to do these next 2 month.  I'm going to close with a passage from Mary Anne Radmacher's book, "Lean Forward into Your Life," which is so applicable to how I plan to spend the next 2 months:

"chance are... forever is... sitting outside my door.  Why am I doing the dishes?  Days speedily tick past.  My future, ink, pours from this pen of today, written with apparent ease.  A precious vapor disappears.  In the clearing of it I shall see that I am aged.  I shall wonder how I could have dedicated so many days to the pursuit of nonessential things.  What of all those days can I recall?  As I learn to embrace the gray and the wrinkle, I open the door to chance.  I whisper to forever, "let's now go dance and leave the dishes for later."

Is there a certain part of each year that is especially draining and difficult for you?  If so, do you fixate on that phase or focus on trying to enjoy the quieter times of life?  Truth be told, I fixate on the stress I know is coming, but this year I am trying to enjoy the blissful hear and now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Don't

So often in life, we define ourselves in terms of things we do.  I do run.  I do read.  I do love the Microsoft Office application Excel more than the average person.  But things we don't do, believe or like also define us.  Here are some that define me.

I don't...

- paint my fingernails or toe nails.
- read books that involve zombies or vampires.
- willingly watch sports, unless the person I am with really wants to watch a game.  I make an exception for the Olympics. I LOVE the Olympics.

- handle people who thrive on drama very well.
- check luggage when traveling, unless it's an international flight.
- talk to people in the line at the grocery store - or people on flights.

- like pizza.  Never have, not even as a kid!
- like to think about the amount of student loan debt I have.
- have any credit card debt, so at least I've got that going for me to offset the student loans.  Ha.

- have a Pinterest account.  I feel like it's for crafty, DIY-types, or people planning weddings or kids' birthday parties.  I know there are recipes on there, too, and I would enjoy that aspect, but not enough to join the site.
- see my family nearly as much as I would like.
- have any true vacations planned until next July.  (sob)  I do have a couple of work trips that I am turning into weekend getaways, but that isn't the same as a vacation (in my opinion).

- enjoy going to malls, unless I am with my local best friend, Brooke, as she embraces my "power shopping, let's get this over as quick as possible" approach to shopping.  Exception:  I love Banana Republic.  That store totally embodies my personal style.  And many of their clothes are tailored for curve-less women, like me!
- own a scale, and likely never will again.  I will occasionally weigh myself at the gym, but rarely do.
- aspire to ever be described as skinny.  I aspire to be described as toned or fit.

What are some things you don't do, believe or like that define you?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Looking Forward!

With the marathon behind me, and year end approaching, I figured it was time for another Looking Forward post!!

Today I am looking forward to a skype session with Alli of 26 Dishes (I think, unless Hurricane Sandy foils our plans...).  We have been blog friends for years and finally got to meet earlier this month in St. Louis.  She is totally my soul sister is one of those people who just instantly gets me!!

This week I am looking forward to JULIA CHILD NIGHT.  Yes, it warrants ALL CAPS.  My aunt and I think about this event and plan for MONTHS; as it approaches I get more and more excited.  All of our menus have been awesome but I think this year will be especially good!  It's just such a fun night as it involves good food, laughter, wine, and a fierce game of Balderdash!

This month I am looking forward to visiting my friend Heidi in Austin.  She has an adorable little girl who will turn 2 in December.  I got to see them in September, and her daughter kind of took to me, so I think we are going to be best buddies that weekend!  They recently moved to Austin so I am excited to see their house and check out their new city!

This year I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas.  It is just the most wonderful time of the year.  I am looking forward to hosting my annual gingerbread house decorating party, seeing family and friends, decorating my tree, and seeing all the lights on peoples' houses!

What are you looking forward to?

Friday, October 26, 2012


This post was floating around the interwebs last week, so I thought I'd close out this week by playing along!

feeling relieved that my crazy stretch of travel is over.

reading "Yes Chef" by Marcus Samuelsson.  I developed a crush on him when he was on Top Chef Masters. The book is super fascinating and I'd recommend it if you like shows like Top Chef.

longing for a relaxing vacation.

laughing at this shirt I bought in Des Moines that says:  "Des Moines:  French for The Moines."  I am sure it's not that funny to most people but I think it's hilarious!

crying at most episodes of Parenthood this season.  Cancer sucks.

looking forward to turning a work trip into a fun trip next month - I'll be spending the weekend in Austin with a best friend from college!

journaling never.  Unless blogging counts.  I do write down thoughts in the notes ap of my iPhone on plane rides, though.

celebrating a successful marathon!

eating apples, especially my favorite - honeycrisp!

running zero miles this week (I think).  My legs need a break.  I will get back into it next week (at a lower mileage level).

hoping I can catch up on sleep this weekend.  I feel really exhausted this week!

anticipating the fun weekend that is ahead of me! 

planning a trip to California at the end of November for work, which I will parlay into a fun trip!

drinking pumpkin spice lattes like they are going out of style.  And loving every sip!

missing friends and family.

listening to artists whose albums I own, but sort of forgot about - like James Blunt.

making beef stew and butternut squash risotto this weekend.  It's lovely to not be traveling!

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!  Mine will be pretty low key.  I have a going away happy hour for a co-worker tonight and a Halloween party tomorrow night.  I have not been to a Halloween party in 10 years - not kidding...  It's my first post-collegiate Halloween party.  I am really looking forward to it as I never go to parties anymore!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Survived!

My October Travel Calendar

Besides the marathon, there is another accomplishment I am celebrating this week.  I think it's worth noting that I survived what was one of the most busy, intense travel schedules I have ever (and hopefully will ever) experienced - I mean the calendar above gives you a good visual of how much I was gone during the month of October.  I counted on Friday, and realized I had been on 18 flights in the last 7 weeks.  18 FLIGHTS.  Most people don't take 18 flights in the span of a year.

I had good days while traveling - like client meetings and presentations that went super well. And I had bad days - like when I was asked to move to Charlotte.  This is the 3rd time this has come up in the past year, my answer is a FIRM NO.  It is a stressful conversation to have because it's starting to feel like it's shifting towards an ultimatum.  I hope that is not the case.  I love my job, but I love my family and lifestyle in Minneapolis more.  Sorry, I'm not sorry I feel that way.

I've become a master at packing (and actually have a smaller suitcase than most of my male co-workers).  I've lost all ability to be patient in the security line.  I know the Minneapolis airport (which is HUGE, by the way), like the back of my hand.  I have determined that I prefer traveling alone versus traveling with co-workers.

I'm worn out and exhausted after 7 weeks of non-stop travel, but I get a glorious 2.5 week break (I think, there is a potential trip to Denver next week)...  I can't wait to spend every night of the week in my own bed!  I can't wait to have more evenings free to see family and friends!  I can't wait to actually cook meals instead of eating out so much!

So here's to a 2 blissful weeks of being home! And here is hoping I make it at least another 6 months without having to have the "when are you moving to Charlotte?" conversation....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: A Race Recap

As promised, here is a race recap!  Overall, I feel really good about the race.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that I didn't run a sub-4 race as I was on pace to hit this goal until about the 23rd mile, but it just wasn't the day for that.  I will say I totally and completely hit a wall around mile 23, and just had absolutely nothing in the tank.  I mean, my final 3 miles were slower than the last 3 miles of my Portland race in 2010...  Looking at my splits, it is clear I went out too fast in this race - lesson learned!

The course was very beautiful, though.  And very hilly.  We ran on city streets past beautiful homes in a historic area of Des Moines, around the Drake track, along a nature preserve area, and along a lake.  So all in all, there was a lot of diversity in the scenery, which is always nice!  It wasn't very well-spectated, but I listen to music, so that wasn't a very big deal.

I am really happy with the stats from my race!  I was 39th in my division (out of 137) and the 176th female finisher (out of 645).

Here are how my splits broke out!

Mile 1:  8:58
Mile 2:  8:48
Mile 3:  8:45
Mile 4:  9:11 (massive hill on this mile)
Mile 5:  8:47
Mile 6:  8:52
Mile 7:  9:03
Mile 8:  9:18
Mile 9:  8:51
Mile 10:  8:54
Mile 11:  9:01
Mile 12:  8:44
Mile 13:  9:10
Mile 14:  9:16
Mile 15:  9:02
Mile 16:  8:52
Mile 17:  8:53
Mile 18:  9:16
** This is when the race started to feel HARD.  Up until this point I felt very strong and confident that I would run a sub-4 race.
Mile 19:  9:13
Mile 20:  9:33
Mile 21:  9:36
Mile 22:  9:43
Mile 23:  9:30
* At this point, the 4 hour pace group passed me.  I tried to stay with them, but I had NOTHING left in the tank.  I was beyond exhausted and just wanted the race to be over.  It was very difficult to not walk, but I made myself run, albeit very slow (for me).
Mile 24:  10:21
Mile 25:  10:40
Mile 26:  10:38
Last .2:  10:21 pace

I staggered over the finish line, and barely had it in me to lift my arms for the finish line photo!

I am really happy with my time - and I made my A and B goals.  And I was just shy of a 19 minute PR, which is a great accomplishment!  It was a beautiful course, and a beautiful day, and now I can say I truly know what it feels like to hit a wall - I didn't really get that 'wall' feeling in my last 2 marathons.

I left everything I had out there on that course, and am proud of my race.

I'm tired and very sore, and really wish I was not working today, but I'm far too low on PTO to waste a day laying on the couch!  I am working in the Des Moines office today and will head home this afternoon - and go straight to a massage.  Thank God I thought to book that.  It helped with my recovery for my last marathon, so I know it will help this time as well.

In closing, I will say there is one unique thing about this marathon - for the first time I am walking away knowing I will run more marathons; the last 2 marathons I finished and said NEVER AGAIN.  I'm looking forward to running Chicago next fall with some of my favorite ladies!

Training Tally
Week 18:  35 miles
Training-to-date:  534.25

And that is a wrap for me!  No more marathon-themed posts - at least not until next summer.  :) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A New PR!


I ran a successful marathon today!  A sub-4 marathon was not in the cards for me, but I am still happy with my time, as it is close to a 19 minute PR.  I'll take that.  It was sort of a tale of two races - 23 miles, and the final 3.2.  The prayer bracelet proved to be a great strategy, though.  I prayed for marriages, both new and seasoned, babies, a friend who is trying to have a baby, nephews, a niece, and faux nephews and nieces.  I prayed that single friends would meet their husbands soon.  I spent the final 5 miles praying for an aunt who has cancer, as well as the sister and mom of two friends that are battling cancer, too.  I said Hail Mary's and Our Fathers and thought to myself (and said out loud a couple of times) - this is so hard.  But I made it through, with a bright, shiny PR (and very sore, beat up legs/feet).'

Thank you to all of my virtual cheerleaders out there!  I thought of you all when I would step on each timing pad, knowing you were getting texts and emails updating you on my status.  It meant a lot that so many were thinking of me, both near and far.

I will share more details in a post tomorrow, with splits and reflections!  Today is about celebrating and basking in the wonder of what my body can accomplish.  I ran 26.2 miles in just over 4 hours and 3 minutes.  That is pretty dang amazing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Older I Get...

One thing I've found about traveling is that it tends to make me more introspective.  You spend hours on a flight with no access to internet (I refuse to pay for WIFI) or your phone (which is actually quite glorious). I am often too tired to read, so often close my eyes and just think.  Lately I've been thinking about how fast time flies. Some days, I have to remind myself how old I am.  Yes, this is true.  Then when I remember how old I am, I think to myself - "really?  I am 31?"  And no, I do not think 31 is 'old' - it's just older than I feel.  The years have flown by and I still sometimes feel like a twenty-something. 

But then I stop and think about all the things I've recognized and realized over the years, and I think that this whole growing older process is a wonderful thing.  I would not reverse the clock back to my younger years because I would rather be at this age and retain the lessons I've learned, and the truths I've discovered.  I see other twenty-somethings struggling through the sometimes tough and tumultuous times of their twenties (which, in my experience, no one really talked about) and I want to say to them - hold on, it gets SO much better. 

Here is a hodge podge collection of some of the lessons I've learned, told from an "The Older I Get" frame of mind.

The Older I Get...

- the smarter and wiser my parents become.  I was so dismissive of their advice at a younger age.  Now I seek it out and value their perspective.

- the more I want to surround myself with people who challenge me to be a better person and hold qualities that I aspire to have, and the less I want to be around people who bring me down.

- the better I have gotten at dressing my body. Yes, this may seem shallow, but I personally think appearances do matter.  I spent so much of my 20s lamenting over the fact that I did not have a small waist.  Now I have found clothing that accentuates my assets, like my long, lean legs. 

- the less I worry about what my future holds.  I have learned to trust that things have a way of working themselves out.  I've been through some really tough, gut wrenching situations in both my career and dating life, and I've come out a stronger, better person. 

- the more I respect and appreciate the friends in my life that are very honest with me and love me enough to tell me the truth or tell me when they are worried about me and ask how they can help.  I try to be that kind of friend back to them, which means sometimes I come off as blunt, but I'd rather be known for being an honest friend. Gone are the days of telling a friend what they want to hear.  The truth, delivered with compassion, is so much more valuable.

- the more I realize that there is so much to discover and learn, and for me, the best way to learn more about the world and discover things about myself is to travel.

- it is ok to be a math-loving, number-adoring, booked-obsessed nerd.  I'm never going to be the 'cool kid' and I'm more than ok with this because it's much better to be myself.  My passions are what make me unique.

- the less I freak out about the fact that I may never get married.  I would be lying if I said I wouldn't be disappointed if my future does not include a husband and children, but it would not be the end of the world.  I know I would still live a full life and would flex my maternal muscle in relationships with my nephews, niece, and faux nephews and nieces.  I think getting to this point was important as dating feels a lot different now.  There is no sense of desperation or feeling of THIS HAS TO WORK.  Instead, it's a process of discovering if the guy is right for me.

I'll close with a quote from the book "Lean Forward Into Your Life" by Mary Anne Radmacher:

"Gentle soul, understand the longing of your life has already been answered.  Each day is a gift to be unwrapped.  It falls to your grace, your maturity, to understand the nature of the gift once it is opened."

What are some of the lessons you've learned as you've gotten older?

I flew in Charlotte last night and am here until Friday.  This is my last trip until the week of the election!  Hip hip hooray!!  Have a great rest of the week everyone - I'll see you all on the other side of 26.2!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Confessions

This post has been circulating around the internet lately, so being a book lover, I thought I'd play along.  These are my book confessions:

- My favorite book as a child was The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  I had the book memorized. 

- I was totally obsessed with The Babysitter's Club book series, and especially loved the white super specials that were extra thick.  I identified with Mary Ann.  My childhoold best friend and I would often spend the evenings of sleepovers laying side by side in bed, reading a BSC book. 

- The first travel memoir I read was "Without Reservations" and it goes down as one of my favorites.

- My favorite book and only book I re-read on a regular basis is Tuesdays with Morrie.  A boyfriend of the past picked up on my love of this book and took me to see the play.  That goes down as the most thoughtful birthday gift from a boyfriend I have received.

- I think you can tell a lot about a person by their bookshelf.

- I really hope that the man I end up with loves to read because it's a huge passion of mine.

- I think it's ridiculous (and honestly disappointing) that the 50 Shades of Grey series has been so popular.

- I did not use the public library until about 5 years ago.  I grew up in a tiny town without a library and then did not think to use one when I was in college.  Now I always have multiple books checked and I especially love the convenience of checking out books on my nook (but wish the library owned more copies of eBooks so the wait wasn't so long).

- I am in the midst of a book buying fast, which I feel I technically kind of broke last month when I bought some books at our United Way book fair.  But they were uber cheap and the money went to a good cause, so I gave myself a pass to do this because I got about 8 books for less than what I would pay for 1 typically.  (And I donated 14)

- I worked at Barnes and Noble as a part time job to supplement my income after college.  It was an interesting experience.  I loved that you could take the dust jacket off of a hard cover and borrow it so long as you took very good care of the book.  I did not love working at the information desk.  Here is an example of the kind of customer I would have to help:  Customer:  "Hi.  I was listening to NPR this morning and they were talking about a book.  Do you have it?  It's set in Africa."  Me:  ::blank look:: 

- Becky and I are reading "Emma" this month (or at least starting it...  not sure we'll get it read in October) and will be doing a blog swap to review it!

What are you reading these days? 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 17

It's marathon week!  I really can not believe that!  All of these weeks of training have absolutely flown by, more so than any other training cycle.  I feel good about how I feel going into race week and my goal this week is to hydrate, rest my legs, and eat as healthy as I can!  That will be a challenge since I once again travel for work Tuesday-Friday of this week, but I will make it work!

Now it's time to think about goals...  I have gone back and forth about what my goals should be.  Had I not been wiped out by bronchitis for a good 2 weeks, I would probably feel differently.  I am not giving up on having a great marathon, of course, I just am adjusting my expectations and trying to not be too hard on myself if I don't make my goal.  I always take an A, B, and C goal approach to racing, so here they are:

A Goal:  Finish with a smile on my face.  I think this should be a goal for any person training for a marathon as you never know what can happen on race day! 

B Goal:  PR.  To PR, I need to run faster than 4:22:10, which means I have to run faster than 10 minute miles.  I KNOW I can do this based on how my 20 and 22 mile training runs went (barring any weird thing happening with the weather or my body).

C Goal:  Run a sub-4 hour marathon, so 3:59:59 would be just fine with me.  That means I need to run a 9:09 pace.  This is definitely going to be a challenging goal, and I am not going into the race completely expecting to accomplish this.  I am just going to see how I feel on race day and will listen to my body.

The thing is, I know there will be other marathons, so no matter what happens on Sunday, there will be other races.  I just want to have fun and run with a smile on my face. 

If you want to track how I am doing on race day, you can sign up for text message alerts here.  You do need to know my last name, so if you don't know if, you can email me (I think most of you know it, though). 

Here is how my training broke out last week:

Monday:  7 miles at 9:23 pace
Tuesday:  Rest
Wednesday:  I did an awesome strides work out (30 seconds at 5k pace, 30 seconds of recovery) along a river in Philadelphia.  It's definitely a great city to run in.  I did just over 5.6 miles at 9:12 pace overall.
Thursday:  Biked 10 miles in the morning before work
Friday:  Rest
Saturday:  10.4 miles at 9:27 pace
Sunday:  Rest

Week 17:  23 miles
Training-to-date:  499.25 (so close to 500!!)

Thanks for all the support and encouragement you have all provided along the way!  Hopefully I'll have good results to share with you next week!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Know This Much is True

I thought I'd mix things up a bit and talk about something besides running for a change!  Here are some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind, lately, in bullet point form...

I know...

- I could not would not want to sustain a relationship or be a parent and travel as much as I have lately for work.  I am ok with it now since I am single and childless, but I so could not do this if I had a spouse or children.  It's been good for my career and has pushed me to grow in my position, but it's really hard to be gone every week for 6 weeks in a row, to different cities in different parts of the country.  I know people have this kind of schedule and have a family but I just don't see that happening for myself.

- we all have 24 hours in the day, and 365 (or 366) days in our year.  To me, that means we should stop saying, "I don't have time to do X" and instead say "I don't choose to spend my time doing X."  I try to be mindful of this when speaking to others.

- where I am right now in my life is exactly where I am supposed to be, but I don't know that it's where I will be long term as things like dreams about moving to Chicago make me wonder if a move is in my future (not anytime remotely soon).

- it is far too soon to be having bad dreams about failing Level 3 of the CFA.  The test is in June for cripes sake.

- I will do everything in my power to pass Level 3 so that I can fully have control of my life and schedule once again - and never have to experience an "I didn't pass" nightmare again.

- I will run marathons for the forseeable future, and plan to run Chicago in 2013, and Paris and Twin Cities in 2014.

- joining my running club was the best fitness-related decision I have ever made.  I don't know what I would do without the coaches and the friends I've made in the group!

- at this point, I could not fathom moving back out to the suburbs.  To each their own - I know the city is not for everyone.  But at this point, it is for me!

Ok, your turn, finish the sentence, "I know..."

I leave for Philadelphia today, come back Friday, and go straight from the airport to my aunt & uncle's for a final round of Julia Child Night recipe testing!  I am glad I have something very exciting to look forward to upon my return!  I can't tell you how excited I am to see my "St. Paul parents" and eat a delicious, gourmet, home cooked meal!!  I hope everyone has a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nora's Wedding!

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I had a chance to pull the photos off of my phone on Sunday night, so here I am with the wedding recap post.  I will say - if you want more details and stunning photos, check out Becky and Nilsa's blogs as they took a bunch of photos (with their nice cameras) whereas these were all taken with my handy dandy iPhone! 

Now for the recap!  I had an absolutely blast at Nora's wedding.  Mother nature threw some curve balls at Nora & her fiance, but they handled them super well (like having to change plans for the reception and move it indoors due to the unseasonably cold 45 degree temps!).  They had a day wedding (which is something I could totally see myself doing given the fact that I suck at staying up late and love brunch!), so things kicked off rather early on Saturday morning (6 am hair appointments, to be exact).  I'll let the photos do the talking!

It may be 6 am, but Nora was wide awake and ready to go!  They had the hair  and make-up people come to Nora's parents' home, which was SUPER convenient!!  Nora's mom provided breakfast and LOTS of coffee!

Nora and I got our hair done first - next up was make up (sorry for the blurry iPhone photo)

Before we knew it, it was time for photos.  Here I am, all dressed up and ready to go.  I REALLY loved the bridesmaid dresses - they were comfortable and looked great on everyone. Nora let us pick our styles which was awesome as I am all about dresses with straps.  :)

A couple of hours later, and these 2 were husband and wife!  We snapped a quick photo before dinner began!  I LOVED Nora's dress.  She looks beautiful  (and SO happy) and the stye completely suited her.  I liked that they guys would brown vests/pants - very fall appropriate!

You can see the detail on the back of the dress in this photo, which was taken during their first dance!
Sadly, that is pretty much all the photos I have of the day!  It's tough to capture the event when you are a bridesmaid, but like I said in the beginning, I KNOW Nilsa and Becky got some great shops, so watch out for their recaps of the events.

It was such a wonderful weekend and I had so much fun with Nora, Knight, and Nora's family.  This was my 3rd visit to St. Louis so I have gotten to know her family well - especially her mom, who shares a love of all things French.  :)  Besides spending quality time with Nora (which included going to an author event on Thursday) it was awesome to see Mandy, Nilsa, Becky, and Alli.  I love these girls (if you don't read their blogs, I highly recommend that you start!) and hate that we are geographically dispersed - but I know there will be future meet-ups! 

All in all it was a wonderful weekend, full of laughter, good food, good friends, and FUN!

Have you ever been to a day wedding before?  This was my first and I thought it was so fun!  My wedding will depend on the person I marry, of course, but I could see myself having a day wedding with brunch!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 16

Well, week 16 is in the books, and I am less than 2 weeks from race day!  Kind of crazy!  This week was a total whirlwind for me as I was in the Harrisburg, PA area Sunday/Monday, then in St. Louis Thursday-Sunday.  I mean, I slept in 5 different beds (hotel in PA, my bed, bed at Nora's, bed at Nora's parents, hotel in St. Louis) over the course of the past week.  It's no wonder my head is spinning lately, but there is no slowing down anytime soon as I still have 2 more weeks of travel before my marathon.  Actually I will be home a total of 5 days between now and the marathon...  Le sigh.  But I'll get through it!

The first week of taper went pretty well.  I am really glad it's taper time because even getting the decreased mileage in is challenging!  I'm definitely ready for the race and feel good about my level of conditioning going into race day.  I just really hope I can stay healthy for the next 2 weeks. I'm drinking OJ, taking vitamins, and trying to get 8 hours of sleep a night (totally failing on that last one).  Hopefully all of that will help keep me healthy!

I'm starting to get questions about my race goal - I have some goals in mind that I'll be sharing next week.  Truth be told, I haven't decided on a final goal, but regardless of my goal, I have a racing strategy in mind that will incorporate my final time goal.  I've used it in the past, and it works really well.  The strategy is to turn my pace bracelet into a prayer bracelet.  Those who have read my blog for a couple of years might remember that I did this for my Portland marathon. 

What does this mean?  Well for those unfamiliar with a pace bracelet, it's a bracelet with mile splits that tell you how many minutes should have passed at each mile marker for you to hit your goal.  So if you are trying to run a 4 hour marathon, on mile 5 it will say 54:54, meaning,  your garmin better show less than 54:54 on it if you are trying to run a sub-4 hour marathon.  It's really easy for us runners to get totally caught up in the numbers and to obsessively look at the pace bracelet and our garmin, so what I do to sort of couteract that is write the name of person next to each mile, and I dedicate that miles to that person.  I usually pick people most especially in need of my prayers for the end miles as those are the toughest miles, and that's when you REALLY need the mental distraction.  Plus, you are really suffering in those miles, so I try to offer up that suffering for the person I am thinking of.  For instance, for this race I will be offering the final 3 miles for my aunt Betty who is fighting cancer.  Yes, she gets 3 miles (and is the only person who will get multiple miles) because she is fighting the ultimate fight right now, with such grace.  So if during those final 3 miles, I feel like giving up, I will think of her and I think that will keep the pain of the final miles in perspective. 

I'm excited to pick out names for each mile of the marathon.  And while I do keep an eye on the split times for each mile, I am more so excited to look down at each mile marker and see who I get to pray for/think about next!

Here is how the training broke out last week:

Monday:  Rest (travel day)
Tuesday:  5 pre-dawn recovery miles at 9:24 pace.
Wednesday:  We did a warm up, then 1 mi @ MP, 1 @ HMP, and 2 @ MP. My goal was sub 9 for the MP and 8:30 for the HMP. I ended up running my MP miles at 8:43, 8:44, and 8:39, and ran my HMP mile at 8:16! Did a cool down afterwards and was happy to see the entire 7+ miles was sub 9! Great confidence booster for the DSM marathon.
Thursday:  Rest (travel day)
Friday:  4 miles on the dreadmill at 9:05 pace
Saturday:  Rest (wedding festivities)
Sunday:  15 miles @ 10:04 pace.  My coach and another friend from run club came out on their Sunday afternoon to run with me.  My friend even set up a water/gatorade stop for us.  Talk about star treatment. I was pretty tired on this run, which is to be expected after a week of celebrations and some libations!

Week 16:  31 miles
Training-to-date:  476.25

If you are a marathon or half-marathon runner, do you have a racing strategy to keep your mind off the miles?  Doyou use the pace bracelet?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

St. Louis Bound!!

Greetings and Happy Thursday, everyone!  I am working a half day today and then head to the airport and fly to St. Louis for Nora & Knight's wedding weekend!  I am so excited and have been looking forward to this for quite awhile!  It will be a fun and full weekend, but I know it will be a blast!  I'll get to see...

The bride of course! (photo from her wedding show)
Mandy! (photo from our Wild Rumpus weekend in August of 2010)

Becky!  (photo from our Chicago trip in January)
As well as Nilsa and Alli!  I am SO excited!  I am sure I will have pictures to share when I get back, I just don't know how soon I will be able to share them as I have ANOTHER business trip next week (this time a Wed-Fri trip to Philadelphia).  I am hoping to get time to do a post when I get back on Sunday, but I also need to fit in a 16 mile run when I get back, so we'll see.  So this space might be quiet next week - we will see what I find time for!!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

If Not Now, When?

As is often the case, last week I once again stumbled across a line in a book (The Moment by Douglas Kennedy) that really spoke to something I have been thinking about lately.  The line was actually delivered in German - Wie bald 'nicht jetz' 'ni' wird -with an English translation:  How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'.

That stopped me in my tracks and really made me think.  Because I have been answering "not now" to the question of whether I was ready to re-enter the dating world for quite awhile.  I don't regret the decisions I've made in the past couple of years that I have spent single, but I've used the phase "as soon as" quite a bit.  As soon as the CFA is over.  As soon as I am finished training for my half marathon or marathon.  As soon as summer is over.  As soon as I get through this busy season at work.

As soon as.  As soon as.  As soon as.

We can keep clinging onto this phase to put off things in our lives - until someone calls us out on it, as my good friend Brooke did this summer.  She knows I want to meet someone (and am ready) so we talked about it and I said I would give myself the summer to meet someone organically and if it didn't happen, I would try online dating in September.

Well summer came and summer went and I did not meet a single potential date.  So when fall rolled around, I made a date with my 2 best local friends, Brooke and Amanda, and they helped me write a dating profile.  I decided to illicit their help as sometimes our friends can better describe us, especially for a dating profile.  We made a fun night of it by having dinner and some wine before tackling my profile!

Since then I am happy to say that I have been on some dates.  It has been fun and exciting to get emails from guys and it's by far the most male attention I have ever had in my life.  Of course, I am also getting back into dating at an incredibly busy time of my life.  I mean, I am gone 15 days during the month of October and am preparing to run a marathon...  But in an attempt to avoid "not now" becoming "never" I am instead focusing on the question, "If not now, when?"  After all, come December 26th, I will start studying for the final level of the CFA and I KNOW I can't handle starting a new relationship then, so I am giving myself 3 months to meet someone.  If I haven't met someone worth dating by December 21st, I will deactivate my profile and put it off until the last level of the CFA is behind me.

It's been so long since I've dated, and I have grown and changed in the 2 years I have been single, which has required me to sort of 'revisit' my 'deal breakers'.  Some remain the same, like I need to date someone who is driven, kind-hearted, and intelligent.  But now I have added things like an openness to an urban lifestyle.  Being 31 I've also had to think about whether I am open to dating someone who is divorced and has children (at this point, it's not something I am open to).

I feel like I am in a really good place in life right now as I am hitting my stride at work, with running, and am so happy living downtown.  I also don't feel like I HAVE to meet someone as I am quite happy on my own, so I can be particular and patient.  If it takes me years to find him, then so be it.  I know he'll be worth the wait.

Of course, it's not all fun and games as I've been on the receiving end of some rude comments and viciously rude emails, but I guess it is all part of the process and I am taking those not-so-fun situations in stride (and sending CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED emails to friends to keep them entertained and in the loop).  There are awkward "sorry I am not interested" situations and a feeling that you are hurting someone else's feelings at times, but I guess it's part of the process.

All in all, I am approaching it with a positive attitude and realistic expectations.  We will see what the next 3 months bring!

Is there anything in your life that you keep pushing off?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of September


It's Time by Imagine Dragon - Seriously - listen to this song.  It is amazing!!  It has THE catchiest beat ever, and as you can see, this band is totally talented as they are singing this live/unplugged.  It will make you tap your feet, maybe car dance, and it is the song you put on when you are so pumped up about life and want to sing at the top of your lungs! LOVE THIS SONG.  I want to see this band live.  They look like they'd put on an amazing show!  I bought the CD and it's AWESOME.

Lifening by Snow Patrol - Oh how I adore this song.  This is a live, unedited version of the song, which shows how talented this band is. I love this song because I know we all have moments when our hearts are so full and we think - "This is all I ever wanted from life."


It was another strong reading month for me, partially because of the death virus which laid me up on the couch for several days!  I read 6 books!!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I loved this book.  The writing was so engaging and enchanting.  It held my attention from the very beginning and I did not want the book to end.  It's about a boy and a girl who are engaged in a magical competition that is being played out within the tents of a circus that is held at night.  Some have complained that it moved too slowly for their liking, but I loved this book!

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton - I LOVED this book. It was so well written and engaging. I had a hard time putting it down. The women and the relationships in this book felt real. It was neat to read about this group of women who were newly married, young mothers during the same era that my mom was embarking on marriage/motherhood (60-70s). It makes me want to ask her more about what she thought about events like Apollo 13, the Nixon era and Vietnam.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller -  I really loved this book.  It's sort of a memoir that the author writes while helping write a screen play for a different book he wrote (Blue Like Jazz).  It makes you think about the kind of story you are living and what you want your legacy to be.  One of my favorite quotes about something I think many of us struggle with is as follows:

"There is an intrinsic feeling in nearly every person that your life could be perfect if you only had such-and-such a car or such-and-such a spouse or such-and-such a job.  We believe we will be made whole by our accomplishments, our possessions, or our social status.  It’s written in the fabric of our DNA that life used to be beautiful and now it isn’t, and if only this and if only that, it would be beautiful again."
The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee - Ok, my judgment of this book may be clouded by the fact that I was on codeine cough syrup while reading it in the evenings, but holy moley it confused me. I don't know if it was the switching back and forth between the 40s and 50s or keeping track of everyone's ethnicities (Japanese, Chinese, English, or a mix), but I was and still am CONFUSED by this book.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - This is probably the most engaging and most difficult book to put down that I have read this year. It's a mystery novel about the disappearance of a woman on her 5th anniversary. The narration of the book switches back and forth between the husband and wife (partially through her journal in the early parts). It's so incredibly messed up, it will keep you guessing up until the very end!!

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaught -I loved this book. It's about a young woman, Victoria, who was an orphan. The author weaves together a tale of her childhood with the story of the present so seemlessly. You know Victoria has a secret from her past, but it is slowly revealed over the course of the book. It was cool learning about the meaning of different flowers, too!


Ha.  Miles.  Not as many as I would like this month, thanks to the freaking death virus. I got 109 in, and over 80% of those came in the 2nd half of the month after I recovered from the death virus/bronchitis.  Not great, but it will have to suffice!


First look:  I am bringing the fitted, colored pants trend into fall.  It's tough to tell in this blurry photo (sorry, cold meds make me shaky), but the pants are a lovely eggplant color!  I am all about fitted pants and they work great for my boyish (read:  no curves) body shape!

Second look: Yep, another elevator photo!  This is a new outfit that I got for a very affordable price as the skirt was on clearance at Ann Taylor, and the cami/cardigan came from target. I love that mustard color and think the red shoes are another fun pop of color.  I got a lot of compliments on this color so will look to add more of it to my wardrobe for the fall!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 15

Well the taper has officially began!  I ran my last REALLY long run of 22 miles on Saturday and it went AWESOME.  I felt strong the entire run and finished in about 3:31, so a pace of 9:36 which is a good pace for a long run.  I now know for certain that I have a PR in me (barring anything unusual happening on race day!).  It was a stunningly beautiful day to run.  The temps were around 55 when we started and with the leaves turning, it was gorgeous to run along the Mississippi river and a couple of lakes.  I was definitely wishing I had brought a phone or camera with me, but maybe I will do that next week!

I did encounter a snafu involving marathon weekend.  Last week I called to request a late checkout for marathon weekend and the hotel could not find my reservation.  Cue panic.  I had booked my room back in March and my credit card had been charge in April, so I KNEW I had a reservation.  After over an hour on the phone with the hotel and my credit card, my credit card company finally solved the puzzle:  the hotel had misspelled my name, so I did not get the email confirmation.  Which means I was unaware of the fact that the reservation person I spoke to booked it for APRIL not OCTOBER (excuse me, how do you confuse those 2 months??).  So that charge in April was for a no-show fee.  And of course, 3 weeks out from the marathon there are no hotel rooms available in the downtown area of Des Moines.  I was SO pissed on Thursday.  It pretty much ruined my day.  When something like this happens, it makes me wish I had a simple last name like Johnson or Smith.  My last name is phonetic but it gets messed up all the time. 

Luckily, Iowa Amber came to the rescue and said I could say with her!  Phew.  What a relief!!  When I decided to run DSM, Amber thought she was going to be in Vegas, but now she is actually going to be home and is running the half so it will work out great for me to stay with her since she'll be heading to the start line as well!  So the problem is solved.  The hotel is reimbursing me for the mistake as they clearly got so much wrong.  I mean, besides misspelling my last name, which resulted in an incorrect email address, and booking it for 4/20 instead of 10/20, they also got my mailing address wrong (3rd avenue instead of 1st street - which again - how does that happen?).  So yah.  The guest service person I spoke to was very kind and apologetic.  I think I should have gotten a comped room for a future visit but I had spent so much time on the phone at that point, I didn't feel like arguing that point with them.

All's well that ends well, though, and at least I have somewhere to stay - and will get even more quality time with Amber which I am excited about!

Here is how the week broke out:

Monday:  6 miles on the dreadmill at the Charotte Westin, with 3 miles at marathon pace.  I didn't hate this dreadmill run because you could play solitaire on the dreadmill.  How genius is that??

Tuesday:  Biked 8 miles

Wednesday:  9.5 miles with 2 hilly out-and-back loops. I wanted to run sub-9 pace for those out & back, and I did for all but 1 mile.

Thursday:  4.5 miles at 8:50 pace.

Friday:  Rest

Saturday:  22  miles at 9:36 pace

Sunday:  Rest

Training Tally:
Week 15:  42
Training-to-date:  445.25

I am traveling again today, and then Thursday-Sunday for Nora's wedding so once again I will have to be flexible on my training!  But it's taper time!  Which feels weird coming off my death virus-induced mini taper.