Monday, July 28, 2014

The Monday Happy List



This is the last week of summer for kids in my area! I can't believe it! I still have a whole month of "summer" left, which makes me really happy. Some other things making me happy this week:

Kindle Unlimited: Amazon just released "Kindle Unlimited"--unlimited reading from a selection of 600,000 kindle books for $9.99/month. The best part is that they are doing a 30 day free trial, so I've happily had my nose buried in a book whenever I can. I'm four books into my free month and I'm discovering some fun new reads.

Coffee frappes: In my quest to become a morning person I'm finding a new appreciation for coffee. Or, more specifically, iced coffee frappes from my local coffee shop. Since they are crammed full of sugar, they're a "My-kid-kept-me-up-all-night-and-I-had-a-crack-of-dawn-barre-class" treat, but I'm working on making my own at home. Stay tuned.

Word Crimes: My husband is a huge Weird Al fan, and I have to admit I have a new found respect for him after hearing Word Crimes, a parody of Blurred Lines. It speaks to my English major heart.



A penny for your thoughts: what's on your happy list this week? Are your kids starting school soon?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One Day You'll be a Runner

This post originally appeared about a year ago as a guest blog. I reworked it a little, and it's been getting a little love from some essay contests I've entered it in so I thought I would share it here on my blog. 


Dear Smart Girl,
Hey! Yeah, I’m talking to you. You in the corner of the library, with your nose stuck in a book.



 The girl who always gets picked last for the team. The girl who gets winded going upstairs. The girl who joined the marching band for the sole purpose of getting out of gym class.

I know you. I know you really well—better than anyone. Because I am you, a decade in the future. I know you feel awkward, that you’re not really chubby but you’re not skinny either. I know you’re shy and you’re clumsy.

And since I know you so well—we are, after all, the same person--I know how you watch the track team running around the track and admire them.  I know how you secretly wish you had a Letterman’s jacket, and that you could be one of the sporty girls. That you’ve won lots of awards—deans list, honor society, academic achievements—but that you really wish one of those awards was a little sports trophy.

Everyone understands that good athletes are good athletes—it’s finite. If you’re good at basketball, it’s a definitive good that everyone agrees on. If you’re good at something like writing or painting—well, it’s a subjective good. One person might think you’re a genius and other person might just cock his head and say, “huh?”

It all boils down to this—athletes get noticed. Athletes have power. Know what girls with big books have? A big vocabulary.

What if I told you that in the future, you would have more than a big vocabulary?

What if I told you that one day you swallowed your fear, purchased your very first pair of running shoes and trotted along for a (very slow) mile? And after that very slow mile, you added another? Day after day, week after week, until you could put one foot in front of the other for 13.1 miles? Would you believe me?

Well, you should. Because, little bookworm, you did it. You finally let go of your fear and became the thing you never had the nerve to be: an athlete. And at the end of that half marathon—your very first real race—you got your very first medal. An award. For something you did not with your mind, but with you body.

And it was a good day.

Here’s the thing about being a runner. For every mile you run, every medal you collect, every T-shirt you fold and tuck into a drawer, a little bit of fear melts away. You start to think about doing things you've never done before. Go rock climbing. Go whitewater rafting. Taking a salsa class doesn't feel so daunting because while you might still be clumsy, you know you can make it through the class without passing out. When you run 13.1 miles, you can do anything—even maybe begin to dream about the 26.2.

I’ll leave you with this: just the other day, I was running a race and talking about a running challenge I was training for with some ladies I met in the starting corral.

“So you’re a long distance runner?” one of them asked me. I immediately started to shake my head, and then I stopped myself.

“Yes,” I answered. “Yes, I am.”

So hang in there, smart girl. It’s okay to be a bookworm—but one day you’ll be a runner, too.

Love,

Your Future Self

A penny for your thoughts: what would you tell your former self in a letter?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Running on a Budget

Whoever said, "all you need to run are two feet and an open road" clearly never went to get fitted for shoes in a specialty running store. Or needed energy gels and KT tape. Or had an unexplained, undying need for shiny medals.



Since registering for the Glass Slipper Challenge last week and thinking about all the things that go along with it (race retreat! costumes! hotel reservations!) my credit card is feeling a little beat up. I'm in awe of people who run all the Disney races or any type of major destination races--how do they afford it all?!? I've definitely had to prioritize and keep my races and running purchases in check knowing that the bigger registrations were coming. Here are some things I've found helpful to keep me on my budget:

  • Actually have a budget. Know how much you can spend on gear, race registrations and shoes. I've also been known to ask for races for Christmas and my birthday, or gift cards to my favorite shops. 
  • Sign up early. My race calendar is planned a year in advance. Sure, there are some smaller races that pop up, but long distances and destinations are planned well in advance. As race dates get closer, prices go up. 
  • Have a race "wish list". Knowing what my dream events are allows me to plan and save up. 
  • Follow race organizations on Facebook, twitter, instagram--everywhere I can. A lot of organizations offer flash sales or holiday discounts. I also watch my favorite bloggers for discounts and add-ons. Races like the Rock N Roll series, the Color Run and the Hot Chocolate 15k series often have bloggers representing them that can save you a little money.
  • Volunteer! A lot of organizations offer free race entries when you volunteer. Even if they don't, volunteering can be a great way to get that race day "fix" even if a race isn't in the books for that month. 
  • Join a running club. My membership to the Atlanta Track Club gives me a discount on races and at local running stores. By the end of the year, my membership has more than paid for itself. 
  • Run local! If your budget is tight, don't get down about not being able to do a destination race. Find a local race that takes you through an area of town you're not familiar with. 
  • Do some virtual runs. Get a shiny medal and t-shirt and run in the comfort (and price range!) of your own neighborhood. I'm really looking forward to running the Celebration Half in Florida virtually. 
  • Check your local running store for free clinics. My favorite Atlanta based store offers free yoga some weekends and has a full calendar of free group runs. 
  • Get your running gear at a discount. I buy at end of the season clearance sales for the next season and try not to make spur of the moment purchases unless it's something I really need. I'm really bad about impulse buys at Expos, so I try and bring cash in the amount I have budgeted and when it's gone, I'm done. 
A penny for your thoughts: how do you save money on the run?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Disney Dreaming: It's Princess Half Marathon Registration Day!

Last night, thousands of women lay awake in bed, too excited to sleep. When they finally got to sleep, their dreams were full of running shoes, tutus, and the familiar outline of a famous mouse.

Despite the lack of sleep, these over-caffeinated women sat perched on the edge of hysteria, laptops and iPads at the ready, for the moment the clock struck 12. And as soon as those numbers turned to noon, all the women aimed their browsers at active.com in a frenzy that crashed the website and caused many of these women to pull out their own hair.



What is it, you may ask, that cause women who normally have the patience of a saint to go ballistic? That caused them to call in "sick" to work so they could be in front of their computers at noon? That flooded social media with cries of "I made it! WOOHOO!" once all had been righted in the internet world?

Why, they Princess Half Marathon, of course.



I was one of those women, although I didn't feel the pressure that most out there trying to register felt today. Since I deferred my Glass Slipper Challenge last year, all I had to do was register for the 5k, which I successfully did after an hour of filling out the same form on active.com.

It was a little crazy there for awhile, but we should have expected it--the Princess Half weekend is enormously popular and any time you have that many people trying to do the same thing at the same time, the internet is bound to crash. I hope everyone that wanted to register today had their running dreams come true and got a spot in the race of their choice.

A lot of people come down hard on the Princess Half--they call it crowded, they call it full of slow beginning runners and walkers, they call the expos a madhouse. They're all right, but I love it anyway. And here's why:

The PHM is "home" for me--it's where it all started. It was my first real finish line, my first long distance, my first shiny medal. It was my first runner's high, my first "mile 11"--my own personal point of half marathon hell--and my first experience into what my body could do if I believed it hard enough.



The first time I signed up for PHM, I did it weeks after registration opened--there was none of this computer stalking on registration day that goes on now. It's definitely a little stressful doing a registration like what today turned out to be, but it's also exciting. The worst part, I think, is getting all worked up and waiting 7 months. I won't even start thinking about training until October.

Until then, I'll keep working on my 10k time to send in for a good corral spot and daydreaming about the 3 costumes I get to come up with. See you at the start, princesses!

A penny for your thoughts: will you be running a Disney race this year? Have you ever missed registering for one because it filled up too quick?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

When Someone Pees in Your Cheerios

Today, I am a grouch.



I'm having a downhill day of first-world problems. I woke up groggy and late because of some cold meds. My usually wonderfully-tempered son threw the world's biggest tantrum in the middle of the peaceful botanical gardens. I dropped a six pack of yogurt on the floor, which exploded like a grenade. I'm going to be cleaning up the drips for the next three weeks. A person from my past cropped up unexpectedly--and not so welcome. And finally, as I was sitting down to write this, the Thomas the Train video my (finally calm) son was interrupted by a Trojan condom commercial. 

"Mom, what's safe sex?" 

Aaaaaaand face plant. 

It's days like this that I  have to step back, take a breath, and remind myself it's okay to have a bad day. But it's not okay to let it take over. 

It's not quite 3:00 here in my corner of the world. I still have time to turn this day around! Commencing immediately, I will:

--Snatch the iPad from my child's hands and begin researching kid-friendly tablets. 
--Put on the Magic Kingdom entrance music. Instant happy.
--Sit on my giant workout ball and breathe. Breathe, breathe breathe. I always find focus on my balance ball--mainly because my kid thinks it's hilarious to try and knock me over, so all other thoughts melt away as I put all my energy into staying upright. 
--Go for a walk and soak up some sunshine. 
--Make a happy list of all things I have going for me at the moment. Nothing gives you a little perspective like remembering why you're thankful. 

A penny for your thoughts: what do you do when you're day is not going according to plan?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Red, White and 6.2

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and long weekend! I ran my favorite race, the Peachtree Road Race--the biggest 10K in the world!

I love everything about the Peachtree. It's put on by the Atlanta Track Club, so it's (usually) very organized and streamlined. I know some people had some complaints about it this year, but I'll get to those in a moment.

I picked up my number at the expo on Wednesday, and had fun looking around. I visited the Sparkle Skirts booth, chatted with Jeff Galloway, and--as usual--came home with more than I intended to. I



We had amazing weather in Atlanta on July 4th. It wasn't even 70 degrees when I got into my corral and it was cool and breezy as I crossed the start line. The humidity caught up with us, of course, but for July in Georgia I couldn't have asked for a better start.




The best thing about the Peachtree? The spectators and the volunteers. They line the course with hilarious signs, food, beer, cupcakes--you name it, I probably saw it on the route.



 I got so many cheers and high-fives--and I didn't know anyone. And of course, my favorite spectators are the wheelchair athletes and patients at the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation center for spinal cord injuries. My dad was a patient there and stopping to shake hands and chat with those people always inspires me.

I finished the race both happy and frustrated. This was my "comeback" race--I haven't raced since March. Heck, I've hardly run since March. I was happy that I kept a steady pace through the race, and that my foot didn't swell up or anything weird like that. But the theme for me was definitely "slow and steady"!

Despite my slow speed I finished strong and collected my coveted T-shirt. The Peachtree shirt is a big deal--it's a finishers shirt and the design is kept secret until race day. I also ordered the commemorative medal.




Overall, I had a fantastic race experience. I only have a couple of issues.

The first thing is just something that I thought was tacky. Like I mentioned, people and local businesses were all over the course handing out all sorts of things. And then there's Chick-Fil-A--who started out in Georgia, by the way--out on the course with a register, selling food. Really? I just thought that was super cheesy of them.

My other complaint has to do with some questionable runner etiquette that was going on. For starters, people all over the place were stopping smack in the middle of the road to take photos. I'm not talking runner selfies--I'm talking big group photos where they spanned half the street. Sidewalks, folks! I know that the Peachtree is kind of a giant block party, but stopping and starting and dodging started to get a little old.

Then there was the food issue.

When I finished the race, I headed over to the hospitality tents and grabbed a banana and a powerade. Publix was there with fruit and Coke had lines of coolers with an assortment of drinks. As I walked to my car, I noticed people with bags absolutely stuffed full of fruit and drinks. And now I'm hearing lots of reports of finishers who didn't get anything because these greedy people had taken it upon themselves to stock their pantry for the week. It just makes me really sad that people do things like that. What happened to common courtesy?

Despite those downers, I had a blast. Can you tell by the happy look on my face?



I don't have any races planned until September. In the meantime, I'll be working on getting stronger and working on my 10k time on weekends. It was hard not to come home and sign up for a bunch of summer races--I love that runner's high!

A penny for your thoughts: do you run a July 4th race? What did you do on your long weekend?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Goals: Plan & Prioritize

Okay, I know I start out every new-month post with something like, "can you believe the month has ended?" But...seriously. Where did June go?!? The spring has disappeared into a hot, hazy, southern summer (which, for the record, I love).

After writing my mission statement earlier this month, I decided I would change up my monthly goals. My mission statement focuses on finding balance, so this month I'm going to plan and prioritize.



At the beginning of each week I'm going to:
--Meal plan, to support eating healthy food and keeping my sugar/junk food intake in check
--Prioritize 4 things for each day: 2 things I have to do (like laundry or cleaning the bathroom), 1 thing to do with my family (something as adventurous as a day trip or as simple as an extra bedtime story) and 1 thing to do for myself (
--Plan out my workouts. I'm focusing more on strength training and less on cardio this month because race season is reaaaalllly slow (see hot, hazy southern summer above). I want to be ready to jump into half marathon training in a few months.

This may be overkill planning for me. I don't know yet. But I do know that I every week I end up with a to-do list a mile long and nothing ever gets checked off, because nothing on it is ever fun. So I'll try this and see how it works. Of course, I want to make sure I don't get too rigid--the best summer memories happen on a whim, and I don't want to take that spontaneity out of my life.



A penny for your thoughts: Are you a planner? Or do you go with the flow each day?