Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009!

With only a few hours left in the year, it is time to say goodbye to 2009. I hate to see it go, 2009 was a good year for us. Sadly, I know several peoples who are glad to see the year end. After we had a horrible 2008, I can understand what they are feeling. either way, I am looking forward to the promise of 2010.

2009 started poorly (I had food poisoning last New Year's Eve ans spent New Year's Day in bed), but got better quickly. Bill started the year with a new job after about 6 months of unemployment. I started the year with the same job, but spent 2009 really appreciating what a good job I have. We travelled to Orlando, Virginia Beach, Asheville, Quebec City, Charlotte, Charleston, and Philadelphia. I went to California to attend my high school reunion, and reunited with some of my best friends on the planet. It was a year for racing - Bill and I each completed 11 races, from 5Ks to my first marathon.

All in all, I have no complaints. 2009 treated me quite well. I end the year happy with goals accomplished. I just hope that 2010 will be as good or better. I think it will be.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lucky Girl

I am a very lucky girl. I had an absolutely wonderful Christmas this year. My sweet husband did his very best (and succeeded) to make it a wonderful holiday. He got up some time in the middle of the night and turned on all of the Christmas lights downstairs so I would see them first thing in the morning. He also got me everything I had on my wish list, plus a few surprises. One of the sweetest surprises was a DVD of the movie Eloise. He bought it for me because he knows the book Eloise at Christmastime is very special to me since it was a book I read at my grandparents house every year over the holidays. I was so very touched by his gift.

I am also lucky because I have the ability to spoil my husband, friends, and family at Christmas. I enjoy picking out gifts for people, and I am glad that I don't have to worry about a particular budget for gift giving. We had a great Christmas afternoon with Bill's family. It was fun to see the nephews with their gifts, and I think my sisters-in-law (we drew their names in our annual gift exchange) enjoyed their gifts as well. We all shared a lovely meal together and just enjoyed the wonderful, albeit rainy, day.

I have also had a streak of luck lately. I won free passes to see the movie Sherlock Holmes. Bill and I went to see it last night. It was pretty good. I think Robert Downey, Jr., is a wonderful actor, and I really like both Jude Law and Rachel McAdams. I also won a contest for a DVD giveaway on Christmas Eve. I had been entering the contests all week (there was a different giveaway each day), but the one I really wanted was on the last day. I won it! It is the complete first season of the TV show The Mentalist. I have heard it is a good show, and I look forward to checking it out. Now, it I could only keep the lucky streak going and win the lottery...that would be a great way to start 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I love everything about the holidays. I have been baking like crazy (and eating the fruits of my labor). I have sent out Christmas cards and gotten many in return from friends near and far. I have decorated every room downstairs in my house with Christmas cheer. I have been to parties and celebrated with friends. Tomorrow, I get to spend the day with family.

I hope that you are having a wonderful holiday season. May peace and joy be with you today and always. Merry Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Race Day, 11/22/09-The Philadelphia Marathon, Part III

I had just made the turn away from the finish line and started heading in the direction of mile 14. A woman appeared next to me and suddenly stated "Where the hell is the damn finish line?" I looked at her, and asked if she was doing to half marathon. She was. I told her she had missed the turn and needed to go back. I don't know how anyone could have missed it. There were so many signs and announcements. I guess she was pretty darned tired.

I left the yelling supporters and headed up a hill. Soon, I was in total quiet. I didn't see anyone. I was a bit nervous that I had somehow gotten off the race route, but I soon saw the sign for mile 14. I headed down a hill, then I was on a four lane highway running along the river. From there, the race was an out and back to a small town called Manayunk. I was seeing all the runners heading toward the finish, and hearing people say things like "Don't worry, you will be in Boston." I, however, would not be in Boston as I still had half a race to finish.

I was nearing mile 15 when I heard the ambulance. I never did see the person who needed the ambulance, but I did run past the emergency workers and volunteers. I was just happy it was not me needing medical attention. It was a long boring road out to Manayunk. There were not many spectators along this road, so it was harder to stay running. I did soon see our friends Gary, Kari, and Chris as they headed back to the museum. I still had miles to go.

The town of Manayunk was so cute. All of the local bars and restaurants were open and many had outdoor seating. People cheered us runners as they enjoyed their brunch. I saw several of my Galloway friends, including Eric who had run a marathon in Delaware the day before. He yelled so loud when he saw me, it really made me feel great.

I had been calling Bill all through the race giving me updates to my position. I called him again around mile 23 where I needed yet another rest stop (I swear I have never had to go during a training run, but I went twice in this race!) There was a man shouting at the runners "Pain is weakness leaving the body!" It is one of my favorite quotes, and I had to chuckle. I told him I must have a lot of weakness. A female runner next to me said that wasn't true or else I would no longer be running. She was right.

The miles from 23 to 26 went by so quickly. I was back at the museum, knowing that my goal was within reach. I saw my step brother, Jamie, waiting for me with a huge grin on his face. He ran with me and took a video of my finish. I saw my step mom, then Bill taking pictures right near the 26 mile marker. My dad, aunt, and uncle were there, too. By then, I knew there were no more walk breaks, so I just kept running. I finished in 5:54, beating my goal by 6 minutes. I was so happy to receive my medal - it is beautiful.

My family took such good care of me after the race. After all of the hugs and kisses, they went to get me water, broth, fruit and a famous Philly pretzel. I had my picture taken by the marathon sign, and even got to see my friend Hardin. It was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. I am so happy that I was able to share it with my family.

After a stop back at the hotel to clean up and a good bye to my family members, Bill and I head out in search of every runner's favorite post race refreshment, beer. We went to a bar called Monk's where we had some great Belgium beer and burgers. We later met our friends for dinner and we all celebrated a great race day by eating more food and drinking more beer.

I so enjoyed the Philadelphia Marathon. It was a great race in a wonderful city. The route was good, the people were wonderful, and there are so may things to do and see. I would recommend this race to anyone. Thank you, City of Brotherly Love. I had a fantastic time!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Race Day 11/22/09-The Philadelphia Marathon, Part II

I was off on the biggest race of my life to date. We started down Benjamin Franklin Parkway away from the museum. Before my group arrived at the starting line, we saw volunteers unwrapping the medals for the finishing runners. I kind of wondered why they were hanging medals from their arms now - it would be at least 2 hours before even the fastest runner finished the race. I heard the runner next to me say that he would just go ahead and take the medal now. I chuckled, but I wanted to earn the medal. See you in a few hours, guys!

I was less than a half mile into the race when I started to feel the Nano slipping down my arm. I also noticed that I was hearing the same group, and wondered if I would hear the same album on rotation for the next 6 hours. I let the distraction of my music problems get to me. I almost missed seeing Independence Hall and Benjamin Franklin's final resting place. I got my stuff together, my I will never, ever try something new on race day. Lesson learned!

We ran through Chinatown, then turned to go on a road near the Delaware River. With about 2 miles in, people were starting to shed clothes. I was not one of them. We were given throw away gloves in our race bag, but how could I toss cute gloves with the marathon name, logo, and date on them? Nope, that's a souvenir I am keeping.

We hit the first water stop, and headed back into center city. People were out in on the streets cheering for the passing runners. We were greeted by a couple welcoming us to famous South Street, home of bars, stores, and Jim's Steaks where I would be eating a celebratory cheesesteak on Monday. We turned toward Society Hill, and were again greeted. A man dressed in colonial garb shouted welcome at us and informed us we were at mile 5. Five miles, that's it?

Luckily, we had much more of downtown to distract us during the run. I saw Boyd's menswear store. I used to go to Boyd's with my mom and dad when I was a kid. We would shop for suits for my dad there when I was 5 or 6 years old. That is why I picked this race. It is like coming home for me.

We started to leave the downtown area and head to the campus of Drexel University. We ran past many frat houses with blasting stereos and lots of guys checking out the female runners. Apparently, guys were giving out food at some point, but I was too late for it. We went past the Philadelphia Zoo, and then up the worse hill of the race (which honestly wasn't all that bad).

I realized that I had a problem at that point. I needed to pee. I never pee while running. I have never peed during a race. Heck, I didn't have to use the bathroom during my 20, 23, or 25.5 mile training runs. I reached to top of the hill and saw a row of port-a-potties. I went for it. I walked right up and into a stall, took care of my business and got back on the road. I probably lost a minute tops, but it was worth it. Gross, but worth it.

We went down the hills, and had a little bit of course were we ran down one direction of the street, then doubled back on the same road. I saw several folks from Raleigh there. It was so nice to shout encouragement to them, and get kid words back. It kept my going on the road along the Schuylkill River. I saw the museum looming ahead.

I could hear the roar of the crowd. There were hundreds of people at the museum cheering on their friends and family members. There were even marathoners finishing by then. I saw the fork ahead. Half marathon finishers to the right. Mile 14 to the left.

I took a deep breath and went left. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Race Day 11/22/09-The Philadelphia Marathon, Part I

I am very good at denial. If I am faced with something difficult, I just don't allow myself to think about it. It is with that attitude that I can tell you that I had no problems sleeping the night before the marathon. I did not panic when I woke up, either. I had all of my things perfectly laid out on our dining table. I simply and methodically layered on my clothes and all of the necessary accessories (it seems strange that people used to run in a just a T-shirt, shorts, and shoes!), and prepared to meet our friends in the lobby of the hotel.

Chris, Gary and Kari were all running the marathon with me, while Bill was running the half marathon. We agreed to meet in the lobby at 6 am to walk over for the 7 am start. Apparently, the denial did not have me thinking very clearly or I would have realized that half the people in the hotel were going to the start of the race. It took us about 10 minutes to get an elevator. I would have walked, but going down 15 flights of stairs before running 26.2 miles seemed like a bad idea. We finally made it to the lobby, and out the door we went.

It wasn't too cold for the start. I took a warming cover from one of the old races I had run to keep me warm. Those things are great for warmth, and so easy just to toss aside when the race begins. When you finish, you get a brand new one to add to your collection for the next race. As soon as we got outside in the semi-darkness, I saw about 6 members of the Raleigh Galloway running group across the street. I raced over to them to say hello and to check with one of my group leaders. He had run a marathon in Delaware the day before and was going to run this marathon as well (yes, there are a few crazy people who do that sort of thing). It was so nice to see familiar faces before blending into the crowd of about 20,000 people. Soon, I lost everybody except Bill. We stayed together through the bag drop off and into my corral (this race was a wave start with small groups of runners starting every 5 minutes or so).

Bill gave me some final words of encouragement and started to show me how to work his Ipod Nano. He loaned it to me since it has more memory than the Ipod Shuffle I usually wear while running. Soon, it was time for him to go, too. We wished each other well and kissed goodbye. I figured I had better turn on the Nano and get it ready for the race.

One of the biggest rules in running is NEVER try something new on race day. It is a rule I had always followed, and I really don't know why I decided to break it for the biggest race of my life. I pushed play, and the music blasted in my ears. It was way too loud. I tried to remember what Bill had said about volume control.

Let's see - run your finger lightly around the dial. Mmmm, nothing happened. OK, well, let's try it a little bit harder. Gosh, this music is really too loud, I have better turn it off. Oops!

Well, I could not see the player since it was strapped to my upper left arm. I had to take it out of the case to get the controls to make the adjustments. The next thing I hear is Elvis singing Blue Christmas. I love Christmas music, but that was not what I wanted to hear while I was running for the next 6 hours. Now, I start to panic. I wonder if there is anyone who can help me fix this thing before the race starts. Too late - the race has started.

Luckily, my corral was far back. I finally figured out how to change the volume, and I got the playlist back to my running music. I was really pissed, though. I knew the rule, and I broke it. I tried to put it out of my mind and prepare for the race start. I was listening to the announcer talk about the race and heard him say that the Mayor of Philadelphia was at the starting line. He was talking with the mayor (who also had a mike) and was teasing him about high fiving the runners who went by him. The mayor said he had worked out with the Phillies bull pen, and that his arm and hand were ready for as many people who wanted a high five.

Finally, my group was at the start. I found myself on the right side of the corral. I always like to stick to the edge so the faster runners can have the middle. I look up and see the mayor is on my side. There were only a few people in front of me, so I decided to wait to high five the mayor. I figured it would bring me luck. Being the superstitious type, I will say that it did bring me luck because I did much better that I expected. So, it you ever find yourself running the Philadelphia Marathon, be sure to high five the mayor on your way to the starting line.

With a quick hand slap, I was off and running. The journey had begun. Stay tuned...

Monday, December 07, 2009

It has been too long...

Well, what can I say? I have been pretty busy lately. It is about time I have updated my blog, so here goes...

I did it. I finished the Philadelphia Marathon. Not only did I finish, I finished faster than I thought I would. At the beginning of this training season, I decided my goal would be 6 hours. In the Galloway program, we do a measure called the Magic Mile where you run a mile as fast as you can. Based on your finish time for the mile, you can predict your finished for every length of race. My Magic Mile indicated I would finish a marathon in 6 hour, 15 minutes. I was a bit bummed because I really wanted to run 6 hours. Well, I finished it in 5 hours, 54 minutes. Ha!

Philadelphia is a wonderful city. We arrived on Friday to give up plenty of time to get ready for the race and to be able to visit my family who lives in the area. We had a great hotel right on Benjamin Franklin Parkway which is the main road that leads to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the race begins and ends. There were several members of the Raleigh Galloway running group in town for the race. Our close friends, Chris & Tara as well as Gary & Kari, were all there as well. We met up with them at the race Expo on Friday, and enjoyed a great Italian meal with them Friday night.

On Saturday, we were able to visit the largest museum of Rodin sculpture outside of Paris in the morning. We also walked up to the museum to have our picture taken with the Rocky statue, and to run those famous stairs. My dad and his family flew down from Boston to spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle. He picked us up around lunchtime on Saturday, and we spent the rest of the day with family. It was so nice to see everyone, and to know that they would be waiting for me at the finish line. My aunt and uncle are great hosts - they served an early meal of spaghetti with turkey meat sauce just for us.

Soon, it was time to head to the hotel to get some sleep before the big race. To be continued...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Go Panthers!!

This past Sunday, I got to tick another item off my "bucket list." Bill and I, with our good friends J & M, went to the Carolina Panther football game. This game had been a long time in coming. I bought the tickets way back in August, and really had no idea what it would be like on November 15. Luckily, it was great.

We got up bright and (too) early to leave in plenty of time to get some good tailgating under our belts. The road trip took less than 2 and 1/2 hours. It was smooth drive south, and we found a space in a parking lot very quickly. By 11:00 am, we were sitting around the lot with other happy fans enjoying a beautiful fall day. We had decided to try to eat a little healthier for our tailgate. We had an appetizer of Weight Watcher friendly dip with tortilla chips followed by marinaded grilled chicken, a green salad, roasted veggies, and an apple pie. It was an absolute feast! Of course, the meal was accompanied by beer, a not so healthy, but very delicious, drink. Bill even surprised me with a Panthers T-shirt and a pin to wear to the game. Soon, it was time to walk over the the stadium.

Bank of America Stadium is huge, but well designed. We were very lucky to be in a section that was in the shade all day long. Even though it is fall, it was about 75 that day. It was quite hot in the sun. The game was all I hoped it would be. The Panthers made some quick touchdowns, and were soon up 21-10 over the Atlanta Falcons. There was a near comeback in the second half, but a beautiful interception and a 45 yard touchdown run put our team up for good. The final score was 28-19.

While we were not as lucky on the drive home (we were in traffic for an extra hour), but the day was still worth it in my mind. I really, really enjoyed myself. I hope I can get to another game, soon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One Good Deed

I try to be a nice person. I really do. Sometimes, being nice has a way of coming back to bite you in the butt.

A friend of mine who is currently working on his college degree asked me to read a paper for his English 102 class last week. I said sure, I would be glad to help you. Well, the paper was a mess. He had actually already received a grade, but wanted to polish it up to get an A. I read it with his professor's comments, and helped him rewrite the paper. He got an A. I am glad for him, and glad I could help, but now it has turned into a nightmare.

He has another paper due this week. He asked me take a look at the assignment, and give him a suggestion for which poem to analyse. OK, fine. He wrote the paper. I reviewed it and gave him pointers on grammar and spelling. I edited only to make his sentences cleaner, but did not comment on the content. He also sent it to his professor to review it. Overall, the professor said it was good, but the introduction and thesis are weak.

Now, my friend refers to it as "our paper," and wants me to stop by later so that we can rewrite the introduction. I am in deep doo doo. I really don't want to rewrite his paper. I am not interested. I have a degree, and I have already written all of my papers. How do I get out of this mess??

Monday, October 26, 2009

4 Weeks

I have just under four weeks until my first marathon. I picked the Philadelphia Marathon for a few reasons. It is near the place I was born, and I still have some family in the area. I also picked it because it is very late in the fall marathon season. I liked having additional time to train and prepare, but soon I will just have to do it.

It has been over a week since my longest training run ever. I made it 25.5 miles, and it was a painful and ugly run. I was worn out after 15 miles that day. I really wanted to just go home after the 15 and call it a day. My friend and former group leader encouraged me to go on anyway. She said we could go as slow as I needed. While I was not happy with her at the time, I am glad I did it. I was able to prove that I can go the distance, and make it within the time limit. We finished our training run in about 6 hours, 40 minutes. I know that I will be able to finish 26.2 within 7 hours even if I have to walk the last 3/4 mile. It is a good thing to know.

I hope that my training run was an unusual day. I hope I feel strong on marathon day. I have decided that I am not going to try to predict my time, or be disappointed if I don't make a certain time. Running in a marathon is a huge achievement in and of itself, so I don't need any extra pressure. The only thing I will not do is fail, so really, I can't lose.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Birthday Freebies!

It's my birthday month, so a whole slew of birthday freebies have been heading my way. Last night, Bill and I had a date night where we went to a brewpub called the Carolina Brewery. They had sent me a coupon for a free dinner valued at $9.95 or less. We had planned this outing for a week only to find out that there was a football game in Chapel Hill the same night. It was the first Thursday night game in UNC history (it figures, right?) and the location we wanted to go to is in downtown Chapel Hill. Luckily, there are two locations for the Carolina Brewery. So, we headed out to Pittsboro instead.

We had a great dinner and enjoyed a few of the beers brewed right there at the brewery. It was a fun outing, and we saved $9.95. Unfortunately, we did have to drive about 20 miles each way to get there, so what were the real savings? Oh well, I had fun anyway.

Now I need to find time to use these coupons:

Red Robin - free burger
Firebirds - $10 off next meal
Cold Stone Creamery-Free Like it Creation
Flying Saucer - Free pint of beer of my choice
Nine West - 25% off any purchase
Express - $15 gift coupon
Ann Taylor Loft - $15 gift coupon
Macy's - $10 off a $30 purchase

Glad I have my actual birthday off - looks like I have a lot to do!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm a Ramblin' Rose

Last Sunday, I participated in my second Ramblin' Rose triathlon. The Ramblin' Rose series is a triathlon celebrating the empowerment of women. I did last year's event as my first triathlon ever, and it was nice to have this year's event as my final tri of the season.

The morning started early with my fantastic crew chief, hubby Bill, and I heading over to the race site. The worst part of a triathlon is that you have to get there early to set up your transition area before the race starts, then you have to stand around waiting for your individual race to start. We arrived around 7:20am, and I had to wait until about 9:30 for my swim time. Luckily, it was not nearly as cold as it was last year, and there were more vendors around as well. I got to see the first several finishers cross the line before I even headed to the pool.

My swim was pretty good. I got very lucky and had a young girl behind me. With only 10 seconds between swimmer, it is very easy to get caught up to the person in front of you. I had no problems whatsoever. I felt like I had a great swim up until I was ready to get out of the pool. Then, racer 464 was standing in my way. It was clear she was a first timer, so I resisted the urge to yell "Move your ass, 464!" at her. I finished by swim in 6:30 which was pretty consistent with my 250m swims this year.

My T1 time was a little slow (again, 464 stood in my way when I was ready to get out of the bike rack area) at 2:43, but I was soon off on the ride. I was just behind 470 (my number was 471) heading up the first big hill. My goal was to keep up with her, but she was a bit too speedy. I wound up trading places about 4 times with 469 on the bike. It was cold (being wet did not help), but I had a good ride. I bested my time on the same course that I did the UNC Wellness sprint in August. I finished the 9 mile bike in 36:30, which was 169 overall. It was much faster than my 332 place finish in the swim.

Racer 464 was nowhere to be found when I returned to the transition area (thank goodness). I re racked my bike and changed shoes to head out for the run. After a 2:30 transition, I was on my way. I was determined to run the best I could for the 2 mile course. My legs were definitely tired after the bike (must do brick workouts next year), but I kept moving. I got some encouragement from my yoga teacher who was cheering on the course. I managed to keep a slow run for the entire two miles with the one exception of a short uphill after the turnaround. I did feel like I finished strong coming in at 23:17 for the running section of the race. My time for a mile on fresh legs at the beginning of the season was 11 minutes, so I was very happy with my run.

At the finish, I got a first that I have never had at a triathlon. Each finisher received a necklace. The pink cord held a metal ring with Swim, Bike, Run engraved on one side and Ramblin' Rose 2009 on the other. Medals are common for marathons and half marathons, but this was the first time I have ever received anything for a triathlon. It was a great surprise.

Overall, I finished 296 out of a field of 473 with a final time of 1:11:27. I was very happy with my race. I am a little sad to see triathlon season over, but now is the time to focus on the next big challenge - The Philadelphia Marathon.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bargain Sale 2009

The Junior League holds a fall fundraiser called Bargain Sale every year. This weekend marks the 70th annual sale. My husband calls it "Crap Sale," but he is not a big fan of The League anyway. I have to say, though, it is kind of a big crap sale.

Each member is required to bring a certain dollar amount of things to be sold at this sale. So, it is really a big old garage sale with stuff donated by about 140 women. Sure, there are a few nice things here and there (we are required to bring $20.00 worth of Treasures - high value items like jewelry, silver, china, and designer goods), but it is mostly stuff you would find at any garage sale. I find it to be very stressful. It is hard to get stuff together in each category and to get enough stuff to fulfill your dollar amount. This year I was lucky that we cleaned out many books from the office which really put a dent in my quota requirement. Each year, though, it gets harder and hared to find Treasures. I donated a jade ring this year as well as a pair of pearl earrings I got free from a local jewelry store.

I am not one to scour garage sales or bargain bins, so I don't even shop at this event. Other people do really seem to like it. I don't know. It seems like a bit of a stretch to call it community service, but what do I know. I'm just glad it is over for 2009.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Best of Fall

I love the fall. It is my favorite season for so many reasons. I love the cooler temperatures, the changing leaves, the beginning of hockey and football, and all of the wonderful holidays. It is also the beginning of the new TV season.

I have checked out a few of the new shows this year. Here's what I think so far:

Community - I thought the first episode of this show was hilarious. It has a great ensemble cast including the great Chevy Chase. The second two episodes were enjoyable, but not as funny as the premier. I am a little upset with NBC. They have moved Community to 8:00pm which will conflict with two other shows that I watch. So, I guess Community lasted for three episodes as far as I am concerned.

The Vampire Diaries - I love anything with a paranormal premise. In this show, we have two brother vampires who have returned to their small VA town. One is a vampire with humanity who does not drink human blood and seems to want a normal life. The other is an evil vampire who thinks of humans merely as food and does not seem to care who he hurts. In the middle of the brothers is Elena, a gorgeous young woman who resembles a woman from the brother's past. It seems the past is repeating itself as both brothers are drawn to Elena. So far, I like it. Yes, the cast is mostly teenagers, but I do enjoy the love triangle and the supernatural. Did I mention there is a witch, too? I am keeping this one on my list.

Cougartown - I have always liked Courteney Cox. I think she is a gorgeous woman and a funny actress. I had high hopes for this show about a 40 something divorced woman starting to date again. The premier episode was a dog. I stopped watching with about 5 minutes left. It was not funny or clever. I deleted the show and have not looked back.

The Good Wife - This story is set in Chicago. The state's attorney (guest star Chris Noth) has resigned in scandal. He has shamed his family and is now serving time in prison. His wife, Alicia, has stood by him and now must put her family back together. She (the wonderful Julianna Marguiles) has returned to the law and is now a 40 something woman working as a junior associate in a law firm headed by her good friend (Josh Charles - loved him since Sports Night) from law school. I like the quirky cast and watching Alicia find her legal skills after a 13 year absence. I really like this show and hope it continues.

Modern Family - The first show made me weep because I was laughing so hard. We missed the second episode due to a DVR failure, but saw the third episode last night. I love the crazy son-in-law and the gay couple. So far, so good.

Flash Forward - This show was one of the most hyped coming into the new season. Every person on the planet blacks out for 2+ minutes. People are given a glimpse into their own future - what they are doing on April 29, 2010. We return to the present, and all the pieces must be put together to find out why it happened and how we get from here to there. Promising premise. It sounded interesting, and the initial episode was interesting. How does a loving wife who would never cheat wind up with another man in a few short months? What killed it for me was an commercial that aired during the show. The main character is walking down the street just as everyone is coming to from the blackout. There is a kangaroo that jumps past him. The announcer point it out again and says something like "Did you see the kangaroo? It may be important." Well, it the show need to point out things that may be important, it is assuming I am not smart enough to follow it. I finished the first episode and moved on.

So, what are you watching this season? Has anything caught your interest?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

So Much to Say

Sorry I have been gone for so long! There is no real excuse - life just got busy on me. Well, there are many things to update now.

1. Still undecided about book club - I did not go to the first meeting of the year. It was the same night as a beer tasting at The Flying Saucer, so I went with Bill to that event. We drank yummy pumpkin ales (Cottonwood Pumpkin) and Oktoberfests (Old Dominion rocks). To me, it was much better than a book club meeting. I was all set to quit the book club for these monthly beer tastings when they announced that the tastings would move to Thursdays starting in October. I have no excuses now. I still want to quit, but the conflict was so easy. Now, I am uncertain again.

2. Junior League is going full swing. I am actually liking what I am doing this year. It has been fun so far, and I have had a chance to get to know the women in my committee better. I am having issues with my Extra Hands assignment, but we will see how it goes in the next few weeks.

3. I am still running. We went to a happy hour last Thursday for the Galloway group. It was fun to see people in regular clothes, and I enjoyed talking to our friends Lesley and George. On Saturday, I had the longest run of my life - 23 miles. I felt great for the first 14 or so miles, but then the hills and the sun really started to affect my energy. There were 3 of us still running at 18 miles. I told the other women that I was ready to lie down on the trail and be still for about an hour. I was glad to know everyone felt that way, too. Somehow the camaraderie made it easier to keep running. I will say that I was very excited to see the lake which signaled the end of my run. Had you told me to go another 3.2 miles to finish marathon distance, I am not sure I could have done it. I will have to do it in less than 2 weeks. It will be an adventure. Finally today, my legs are feeling back to normal.

4. Hockey season opened in Carolina on Friday night. I was able to go to the first game with my friends Heather and her friend Tammy. Tammy was able to get us a 3 ticket package that included the opening game. The arena has a cool new Jumbotron in the center with many screens. We have several new players as well. Still, the crowd, the Jumbotron, and the new meat were not enough to get the win. The Canes lost to the Flyers 2-0. As of today, they have yet to win a game and have an 0-2 start. I hope it changes tonight against Tampa Bay.

5. I saw what was quite possibly the best concert of my life - U2 at Carter Finley (NC State) Stadium with Muse as the opening act. I have never seen a production like the U2 stage. It looks like a claw with four talons over a round stage with an additional outer ring. There were bridges that allow the guys to move over the crowd to the outer ring. There was a huge screen over the stage that showed the concert and expanded for an extra light show. The music was amazing (I am a new fan of Muse). U2 played all of there hits with one notable exception - Pride (In the Name of Love). It was really the one song I wanted to hear the most, and I was disappointed. I did get to hear Beautiful Day, The City of Blinding Lights, Magnificent, Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found what I am Looking For, With or Without You, and many, many more. If U2 comes near you, I would highly recommend you see the show.

6. My company has hooked me up with an executive coach to help me with my interpersonal issues. I met with her last week for an initial introduction. It should be interesting to see where we go from here.

Well, I think I covered all the news pretty well. I will try to be better about keeping up my blog. I should have more to post soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Longest Run Ever

Yesterday, I completed my longest run ever - 20 miles. I was nervous going into the day. My previous high was 16 miles last year, and 14 miles this season. I wasn't sure I would be able to make the extra distance. Every time I finish a half marathon, I feel like I have given it my all, and there is no way I could go any further. It would all be tested on Saturday.

I woke up at 4:10am to meet my friend to get an early start. She prefers to go earlier in the day for long runs so we can finish earlier. I was hesitant to wake up this early, but I am sure glad that I did. We met in the pitch darkness of the morning. I was surprised to see 6 people from another group already there to run. There were 4 in our group, so there are at least 10 crazy people in the area. We ran with headlamps and a little but of conversation. I was scared after the first mile - I seemed to be having problems breathing. I felt like I was going too fast, but there was no choice. I did not have my own lamp, and there was no way I was going to be by myself in the dark. The others were able to slow for me, though, and we ran 5 miles before heading back to meet the group.

It turned out to be an extra benefit for me. My Garmin watch failed after 4.8 miles. I was lucky to be able to reset it in the parking lot before the main group run began. It would have been really horrible to have it fail during the main run.

We began the big group run with a 10 miler on a familiar path. I felt like I was doing quite well at first, but became tired on the return. Of course I was tired! By that time, I was in the 13th mile of my day. We returned to the start and our group began to break up according to how long everyone was to run. The longer distance group went out again. I maintained my place in the back of the 5 person main group. I was tired, but overall, felt surprisingly good.

Soon, I was saying goodbye to my friends. I was so glad to have run the 5 miles so early, so I was able to cut the run short and head back to the car. I was lucky to meet another Galloway runner on the path heading back to the lake. She had lost her legs during her run, and fell behind her group. It was so nice to have someone to finish the last 2.5 miles. It really helps to have someone to talk to at that point. She was great, but soon we were parting ways. She had another 3 miles to finish when I was done. I headed home after about 5 1/2 hours of running.

I felt OK when I got home. Stretching was tough, but I put on my compression socks. This morning, my legs feel pretty good, but I do have soreness in my hips. I have 2 more training runs (23 mi and 26 mi) plus the actual marathon. I am beginning to think I can really do it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

The time for my book club to start again is quickly drawing near. We will have our opening meeting/potluck dinner in 3 weeks. Like so many other things in my life, I am torn between staying or going. I love the people in my book club. Going to our monthly meetings is pretty much the only time I would get to see them (except perhaps at a holiday party). I like some of the books we have read, but they are usually the type I would not chose to read. I feel like I don't really have much to say at these meetings, but I do really enjoy the social part. There have even been a few meetings where I haven't even read the book.

So, what should I do? Should I stay or should I go?

Pros: the people, different books than I would normally read
Cons: the books, amount of time it takes, lack of discussion points from me


Friday, September 04, 2009

Marathon des Deux Rives

Quebec City, Canada - August 30, 2009 - Bill and I wanted to run a half marathon in late August-early September as part of our training. We found this race, and decided to make a vacation of it. I, for one, am very glad we did. It was a great race and a wonderful trip.

Our race day started early (don’t they always?) with a walk from our hotel down to the port of Quebec City. There, we joined fellow runners on the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to the town of Levis where both the marathon and demi (half) marathon would start. Once ashore, we were separated into different shuttle bus lines for our trip to the start. The marathoners (42.2K in Canada) were going to town and the top of a long ascent. We demi marathoners (21.1K) were delivered to the start near a park in a residential area of Levis. I was sure the neighbors would not be happy about blasting stereos at 6:30am and the noise of hundreds of runners, but the homeowners were out to cheer us on early on a Sunday morning.

The demi marathon started at a relatively flat area of Levis. It didn’t last long. Soon, we hit one big hill, a short break, and a second big hill. Luckily, these hills were the worst of the course, so I was glad to get them out of the way early. Soon after the hills, we were on the world’s longest cantilever bridge crossing the St. Lawrence to Quebec City. There was a long downhill (finally!) to a road that ran just along the river. We stayed on this road all the way into Quebec City. The race finished in the heart of the port with lots and lots of excited spectators shouting “Bravo!” as I passed. The last few yards were even on a red carpet. Once we crossed the finish line and returned our race chips, we received a unique lighted finisher’s medal. We also got a bag to choose our food from the finisher’s area. There was plenty of water, bagels, cookies, yogurt, chips, peanut, and other food.

I was very impressed with this race. The expo was small, but nice. We received a reusable tote bag and a technical shirt with our race information. By staying at one of the official race hotels and booking the stay through the race center, we received free entry into the pasta dinner. The food was good and plentiful, but, alas, there was no wine at the dinner. There were many stops along the race route with both French and English signs announcing what was available at the stop. There were stops for bananas, oranges, Carb Boom!, and even wet sponges (although we didn’t need them as the remnants of Hurricane Danny kept the morning cool and overcast). The race was measured in kilometers. The kilometer signs descended to let you know how many Ks you had left to the finish. I enjoyed passing all 21 kilometer signs.

Quebec City is a wonderful place to visit as well. The city is gorgeous and quaint. The people are very friendly and will gladly speak to you in English if, like us, you do not speak French. The food is delicious, and Canadian beer is exceptionally good. The weather in August is quite cool as well. We both enjoyed this vacation, and would recommend this race to anyone.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bike Crawl #2

This past Saturday, our friend Jon organized our second bike tour/beer run. The weather did not hold out for us this time, but it didn't matter. I think I had as much, if not more, fun this time.

Our tour started at J&M's house. We had to delay our start by 30-45 minutes due to a downpour, but we were soon on our way. We rode our bike a few miles over to the NC Museum of Art which has a beautiful trail (though hilly!) that connects it to the Meredith College campus. We have been lucky to run there on several occasions. The trail has a variety of art works along it and leads to a pedestrian bridge that goes over a major highway. From there, we headed toward the NC State Campus and our first stop, East Village Grill & Bar.

East Village is a popular hangout for the NC State crowd. Their deck is usually packed on the evenings, but we had it to ourselves in the afternoon. It was a great place to relax for a few minutes with a beer before heading to the next stop. Unfortunately, it started to rain just a bit as we were sitting at East Village. We quickly rode over to our second stop, the Village Draft House, with a quick stop at The Raleigh Little Theater for coverage from the rain.

When we reached Village Draft House, the rain began again in earnest. Luckily, we were able to be seated in a covered area outside where we could sip a beer while watching the rain pour on our bicycles. We were determined (and hungry), so we powered on the the next stop, The Flying Saucer.

We had an easy ride downtown to our old friend, The Sauce. Once there, we ate big hot pretzels and enjoyed a beer on the covered deck. We were not done eating, though. Out next stop was Krispy Kreme.

We were a little giddy at this point, with beer in our tummies and rain on our backs. The donuts were fresh and sweet - a great stop on a Saturday afternoon. The sugar gave us the energy we needed to head to Big Boss Brewery.

Big Boss is my favorite of our local breweries. One of my personal favorite beers, Bad Penny, is brewed there. There brew pub is a neat little watering hole with tons of memorabilia and great people. We even met some new friends at the table next to us. The do not serve food, but they are just a few blocks away from our final stop, Carolina Ale House.

We were planning to be at Carolina Ale House around 3pm, but with the rain we were closer to 6pm. It worked out well as we had quite an appetite for dinner when we arrived. We had stashed two cars in the parking lot so we could load up and return to the beginning after dinner. It had been a long day, but one of the best days we had in a long time. Bike Crawl #3 has got its work cut out to beat this day!

Check out pictures from our adventure on Jon's photo site.

Monday, August 24, 2009

20 Years? Seems like yesterday...

I am so glad that I went to California for my 20th high school reunion weekend. Not only did I have a great weekend with my friends who I don't get to see enough, I actually had a blast at the reunion!!
I was nervous for nothing. People were so nice at the reunion. Folks remembered me from elementary school (we even got a picture of a group of us who all graduated from Montevideo, our elementary school). Facebook even helped. We felt like we all knew one another via our posts, so it wasn't hard to start up a conversation. The venue was wonderful, too. I have added more friends to my Facebook list, and just thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the reunion. I am already thinking about making this trip a yearly venture to CA, and I would certainly consider going to the 25th reunion.

All my fears and concerns were for nothing.

On top of a fabulous reunion, I got to see three of my best friends. I stayed with Melissa who I met in elementary school and have stayed in touch with over all these years. She still lives in the area, so she made an excellent tour guide for my return trip. We went to all three of our schools, drove around town to see how things have changed, and went to see my old house, now totally different with no trees and a second story addition. I also got to spend a glorious Sunday in Laguna Beach at the Sawdust Art Festival with Melissa and sisters Devi and Dorene. Devi and Dorene lived with their parents just three houses down from mine. Our families were extremely close, and went out to dinner every Friday night for many years. It had been years since I saw all three ladies, and we had a wonderful day together. I made me realize how lucky I am to have life long friends. I truly cherish my friendship with each of these ladies. I know it will not be years before we see each other again.

Here is a picture of Melissa and me at the reunion.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where did the time go?

Tomorrow I leave to go to my 20th high school reunion. Now, I actually did not graduate from the high school in CA (I did graduate from a high school in SC), but I did spend second grade to tenth grade there. I count CA as the place I grew up. I know these folks better than I know the people I actually did graduate with in SC. So, I am heading out there and staying with one of my dearest friends who I have not seen in about 6 years.

I am excited, but also nervous. Will people remember me? Will I remember them? Will they think it is strange that I am there even though technically I did not graduate from CA? With the advent of Facebook, I have gotten in touch with so many more people. Most are so excited for the reunion. I hope the trip will be as much fun as I imagine it will be. I guess I will have to let you know when I get back.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rest in Peace, Mr. Hughes

I was just listening to Billy Idol's cover of "Don't You Forget About Me." It takes me back to my teen years. The Breakfast Club was the first R rated movie I ever saw in the theater. We walked up to the box office to buy the tickets, but they would not sell them to us as we were clearly not 17 years old. The person who drove us to the theater (I can't remember if it was my parent or my friend's parent) stepped up to get us the tickets. In we went to our first adult movie.

To this day, The Breakfast Club is still a favorite. It makes me laugh, it makes my cry, and it makes me remember that people may look different, but we are mostly all the same on the inside. We all feel pain, sadness, happiness, and fear. It is finding that similarity in your fellow man that makes it easier to go through life.

Like Michael Jackson, John Hughes was a huge influence on me as I was growing up. It is hard to believe that both are gone. They will always remain in my heart and mind, as I am sure they will in millions of people, old and young, throughout the world.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's Tri Time Again - Triathlon #4

Yesterday, I participated in the UNC Wellness Super Sprint Triathlon. I had some good advantages coming in to this tri. UNC Wellness is my home gym, so I am very familiar with the pool and surrounding area. It is also just a few minutes from my house, so no 4:15 am wake up call (we got to sleep in until 5:45)! I also have my brand new bike. It turned out that all of those things did work in my favor.

I was very excited for the pool swim. I really lucked out with a 2 minute break right in front of me. There were no people in the lanes in front of me when I started. I got extra lucky that the person behind me was missing, so there was a 20 second gap between me and the next swimmer. I spoke to the guy before we got started. He said he was new to the sport and that this was his first tri. I thought that would also benefit me, but it didn't. He did catch me in about the 4th lap. I let him go around, but then he slowed (I think he went out too fast - rookie mistake). I wound up literally on his heels for the rest of the swim. It did help with my breathing and energy, but I may have been able to go a bit faster. Still, I finished the 250 meter swim in a new personal record - 6:23.

T1 is usually a breeze for me. This time, it was a little bit different. I had to get on my bike shoes, then run with the cleats on my feet to the mount line. I was right at what I thought I would do - 2:22.

The new bike and the clipless pedals made all the difference in the world. You start the bike on a flat section for less than 1/4 mile, then turn right and straight up a big hill. I was a bit tired getting up the hill, but once I scaled it, I started to fly. I really felt strong on the bike. I was going so fast, I passed the guy who had passed me on the hill. I actually got past more people than those who passed me. I was very excited about that. I even got to pass the guy who held me up in the pool. By the end of the 14K (about 9 miles) ride, I was feeling tired. I did have to slow a bit at times to catch my breath and straighten my back, but I will get better the more I ride. I was very proud of my bike time - 37:28 - which ranked 97 out of the 193 female competitors. It was clearly my best stage of the day.

T2 used to be easy for me. I would not have to change shoes. This time, I did have to change from bike shoes to running shoes. The great time also took its toll on my legs. I was more wobbly than usual coming off the bike. I had to walk out of transition. It was a bit longer than T1 at 2:32.

I headed out to run the neighborhood of Meadowmont. It is a lovely place, but has a lot of hills. We had a pretty quick ascent that was soon followed by a nice downhill. All of the folks around me were very glad for the downhill, but we soon remembered we would have to see this same road from the other direction. The volunteers on the course were wonderful. They were so supportive and kind (one lady took my empty water cup without my having to ask). I was able to run quite a bit, but did stop to run when I felt the need. I felt very strong at the finish (the downhill helped), and finished the run in 37:43. The 5K was a new PR for me. I was shocked to get a PR in the third leg of a tri, but very happy. My overall time was 1:26:25, well under my goal of 1:30.

I did try something different for this race. My friend, Judy, told me that she had her best times at triathlons when she ran the day before the race. So, on Saturday, I met my running group for our regular run. I did the 9.82 miles with the group, and still felt great for the tri. Guess I will have to run on 10/10 before my final triathlon of the season!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Feels like the end of summer

Things have started getting busy again.

Summer is not my favorite season. Actually, it is my least favorite season. The only good thing about summer is that most of my activities are on hiatus. The Junior League ends in May, and traditionally begins in September. Hockey season ends in June to start again in October. My book club has a final meeting around Memorial Day, then picks back up at the end of September. It is only August 7, and I can already feel things closing in on me.

We had our first committee meeting for the Junior League this past Wednesday. It was a nice meeting - a chance to meet everyone in the group and organize for the coming year. I will be on the same committee this year. Our function is to plan single day volunteer activities in the community. I contacted one local agency already, and the one day they have available for us is the same day I have to run 26 miles according to my training schedule. Guess I will have to pass off the activity because I don't think I could work a three hour shift after 26 miles.

I also did something stupid. I actually took on more responsibility with the League. I am going to be a membership advisor for our committee. We have our first meeting next Wednesday. They promise it will be easy and that we will only have 4 meetings a year. Of course, those meetings fall on a Wednesday night like all of the other JLDOC meetings. Wednesday night is my yoga night.

I have quit hockey, and I am seriously considering quitting my book club. I had hoped I had time to make a decision, but it feels like time is running out even though the weather outside is still very warm.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My achin' back!

My back has been sore for three days now. It is my lower back, and I am not completely sure what is causing it.

Hubby and I went for a bike ride on Sunday. It was a hot day, but I really wanted to try out my new bike. I was nervous about working with the clipless pedals (shoes that clip right in to the bike pedals), but I soon got the hang of it. I actually have a bigger problem getting my feet in the pedals than out. I am pleased to report that never fell over on my bike (at least not yet). I rode around the parking lot for a bit, then we headed out to the road for a short ride. Soon, we were back at the car, and it just didn't seem like we had gone far enough. So, out we went again.

We rode along the American Tobacco Trail until it ended. We ran into fellow biker who told us he had been harassed by two teens further down the trail. He said that they had tried to knock him off his bike. We rode with him for a while until he got a call from the police stating that the perps had been found and returned home (one boy was receiving a beating from his mama in the front yard). I was starting the get very tired at this point, and it was well after lunch. My back was aching and my hands hurt from holding the handles. I was afraid I would not be able to make it back to the truck.

Luckily, we ran into friends on the trail, and I perked up a bit. We did make it back to the truck after about an hour and a half of riding (courtesy of my new bike computer that track time actually moving on the bike).

I know one needs good core strength for bike riding (which I don't have). I also know that the position of the bike is different than what I am used to being in, but should my back still hurt because of the ride?

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Toy #2

After the Triangle Triathlon, I really wanted a road bike. While I love my sport hybrid, it is just not the bike you want to use for racing. So, last weekend, I got a new bike.

We went to several stores and I rode several bikes. This one, however, just felt right. This bike literally makes me smile when I ride it. Well, you can't just buy a bike nowadays. With a road bike, you need bike shoes to clip into the clipless pedals. You need cages to hold your water bottles and a computer to monitor how fast you are riding. There is also the necessary biking wardrobe - gel bike shorts to make the seat more comfortable and bike jerseys that are tight at the bottom to keep from causing wind drag. It cost a pretty penny, but I think it will be so worth it.

This weekend is the hard part. I will be practicing the clipless pedals for the first time outside of a trainer (a device that keeps you steady an upright). I am afraid that I will fall over. Most people do forget that their feet are attached to the bicycle for their first ride. I know I will get used to it and it will become second nature. Then, I can do what I really want to do - ride my beautiful new bike for miles and miles.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Toy #1

About two weeks ago, my wonderful hubby surprised me. He purchased a gift for me that was from my wonderful girls, Misty and Lily. He said they wanted to get me something nice to remember their first anniversary with us (yes, it has been one year since we adopted Misty and Lily from the SPCA). Inside the box, much to my surprise, was an ITouch.

At first, I was not sure what to think. The ITouch has the same features as the IPhone, yet it is not a phone. It is also not a camera. It does, however, have access to the Internet as long as there is a Wifi signal. So, you can access your e-mails while in a Hot spot, but not where there is no network present. I wasn't really sure how I would use it, but I have grown to love it.

It does have a calendar and all of my contact information in it. I can also load on photos of my loved ones, and well as all of my MP3 music files. It has 16GB of memory, so when I am travelling next month, I can but a movie on the unit and watch it whenever I want. It is small and incredibly compact, but has all of these features. Plus, you have the App Store at Apple where you can download games, podcasts, websites, and much more for free or for a nominal charge.

I have also found it the past two weeks that there are more and more places with WiFi. I have been able to get online at my car dealership and at various restaurants. It is also great to have at home if you need to check your e-mail quickly, but don't want to boot up the computer.

I have to say hubby and the girls did a wonderful job with this gift. I love my ITouch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Third Tri is a Charm

This past Sunday, I participated in my third and most challenging triathlon. It was the Triangle Triathlon, a race Bill participated in last year. The location of the race had moved this year from a murky brown lake filled with possible toxins to a lake that is used to cool the nuclear power plant. Most people said it was a wonderful change. I am just happy to be alive and not glowing.

Our day began at 4:15am (yes, we were wondering if there were ever any evening triathlons we could do), and we were on our way to the race site by 4:45 am. We arrived in plenty of time which was a definite advantage due to the lack of parking at the park. We were able to set up our gear (and fix it as we both had racked our bikes incorrectly) and get body marked with ease. There was also a little bit of time for meditation, which I really needed before the race.

I had signed up for this race on a spur of the moment whim. After the process was complete, I began to freak out about what I had done. This race was far longer than anything I had done, and the swim section was in a lake, not a pool. There was also a time limit of 2 hours and 30 minutes that really scared me. I have never been removed from a race because of a time limit, and I certainly did not want it to happen in this race.

As we got ready to head down to the beach, we found some friends of friends who had also signed up for the race. It was so nice to have someone to talk to as we waited for the wave start to begin. The husband of our friends, M, started first. Soon, Bill was off in the water. As the waves continued every four minutes, it was soon time for A and I to head to the lake. It was so nice to have her there and in the same wave. I didn't have time to think about how nervous I was or worry about anything. We were knee deep in water, watching the group before us head to the first buoy before I knew it. Then, the horn sounded and it was our turn.

Since the other tris I have done have been pool swims, it was a whole different thing to do an open water swim. First, your whole age group starts at once. Second, the water is dark and murky. Third, you have to watch where you are going so you don't miss a marker and get off course. There are arms and legs all over the place. It is hard to tell where you are until you are right at someone's legs. The swim was also 750 meters, 500 more meters than my longest race. I have to say, though, that I was proud of my swim. Sure, it was slow going, but I never stopped or had to grab a rescue boat. I felt comfortable in the water. I think if I practice the spotting, I could do quite well. I did get run over by some of the men who started behind me, but I still was not the last in my group to reach the shore. I finished the swim in 22:56.

I was on the shore and started the long run to the transition area. My transition time was very high, 4:33, but there was a long run from the lake up to the transition area, then to the end to enter. I hate being barefoot, but I managed to run up the grass without an incident. I was off on my bike.

Biking is not my strongest discipline. I ride a sport hybrid bike. It is a nice bike for cruising, but not really meant for racing. If I had a road bike, I am sure my time would improve just from the change of gear. After this race, I am very interested in getting a road bike and working on my cycling. I must have been passed by 100 cyclists on the course. The course itself was not too bad. There was one dramatic hill (I am not the best hill climber), but the rest was relatively flat. I gave up 7 spaces during the bike ride, and it was tough watching all those folks pass me by. Still, I kept moving, and finished the 17.5 mile course in 1:16:40.

My second transition was much better as I didn't have to change shoes. It would have been great if I could have gotten my bike racked properly, but it still only took 2:01. I was off on the run, seeing my friend A heading toward the finish on my way out.

The run was different. It was a 5K course (3.1 miles), but most of the running was on a trail. I had never done a trail run before, so it was a different feel being on a dirt path than asphalt. It was also starting to get hot. The beginning of the run was in a shaded area, but it soon gave way to high grass and no covering. I kept moving forward as best I could, stopping to dump water on my head and drink as I could. I did have to walk (really must start doing brick workouts!), but I kept moving. I really was beginning to think it was the longest 5K of my life when I finally got to the turn around point. I was tired and really staring to question why I do these races. I headed back to the fork, and a race volunteer told me I was near the asphalt. As soon as I hit road, I felt much better. I was in the parking lot, and could hear the finish. I ran as best I could up to the finish line, and knew I wasn't the last to cross. I finished the run in 40:46, not stellar, but not too far off my PR of 38:00.

My goal was to complete this race in the 2 hour, 30 minute limit. I finished in 2:26:54. Not bad for my longest triathlon. I know I can do better. Not that it is over, I am looking forward to my next event (a shorter tri in August), and even considering an Olympic distance event for next year.

Check out the local paper's story about the event. Take a look at the photo gallery as well. Photo #28 shows my husband running toward his bike during T1. He is the blond in the black suit on the left.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Latest Obsession

I have a tendency to become obsessed. I became obsessed with Gossip Girl (but have since stopped watching it) and the Twilight Book series (I finished that obsession, and now have the movies to obsess over). Now, my latest obsession is the HBO series True Blood.

I had heard about the series in passing or in an entertainment magazine, so I decided to put the show on my queue at Netflix. Well, now I am hooked. We watched all of the episodes in Season 1 just as the second season began on HBO. Of course, we do not get HBO at our house. It has been tough for me because I have already heard from friends that this season is really good. I have seen things in People magazine about the stars on the show, and it just makes me want to see the new shows even more.

The show is based on the novels by Charlaine Harris about a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse who lives in the town of Bon Temps, LA. Her boyfriend, Bill, is a vampire. The town is full of other colorful characters as well, some with unique abilities. I have always loved any story with magic or paranormal things in it. The fact that it is also a love story with a twist is just a huge bonus. I also love the chemistry of the two stars of the show, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. When I found out that the two are also a couple in real life, I just went over the top of obsession mode.

I have been pricing out cable TV to see if I could somehow make it work to get HBO. Of course, my dear friend, Melissa, said that we could have a True Blood marathon when I go visit her next month so I can catch all of the new shows. I just don't know how long I can wait.

I guess I can always read the books. I have also added a few other TV series to our queue. Will Big Love, Mad Men, Rescue Me, or Entourage take the edge off the obsession? I don't know. I do know that if you haven't seen True Blood yet, check it out. It may be your obsession, too.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Laundry room Re-do

This weekend, Bill and I renovated the laundry room. Bill took down the wood cabinet and repainted the room. We then picked out wire shelving from Lowe's and installed it in place of the cabinets. We also installed shelves on the side of the room and hooks to hold our grocery bags.

I was a little nervous about this project. I was unsure how the wire shelves would look since there would not be any doors to hide things. I love how it looks now. It seems much cleaner, organized, and brighter. It is a happier place to do laundry.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Vacation in A-ville

After the triathlon last Sunday, Bill and I headed west to Asheville, NC. I had always wanted to stay at the Grove Park Inn, and we had seen a special in our local paper. We got a package deal for 2 nights stay which included various discounts throughout the resort. So, away we went.

We arrived around 5pm Sunday evening. We were supposed to have a double bed room with a property view, but my wonderful husband asked if there were any King rooms available. We were quickly upgraded to a king room in the newest wing of the resort, the Sammons Wing. We were on the 8th floor, so we had a spectacular view of the mountains and downtown. I immediately feel in love with the Craftsman style of our room and its wonderful amenities. We headed to the bar in the lobby (or Great Hall as it is called) for a few beers. We took our over priced brews out to one of the terraces to enjoy the stunning view. Soon, it was time for dinner, but we didn't have far to go. We were eating at the resort that night at The Sunset Terrace. We had a tasty dinner and got to enjoy the view some more before heading back to the room to call it a night. Remember, we had been up at 4:30am for the tri.

We woke Monday morning and enjoyed breakfast at the Blue Ridge room. After breakfast, I headed to the spa for what turned out to be the best spa experience I have ever had. The spa at the GPI is pretty amazing. It was built in the center of the grounds, partially under the ground. I received a tour of the spa which includes several different pools with different therapeutic uses. The main pool area is built to look like you are swimming in an underground cavern with rocks covering all the walls. I didn't have much time before my appointment, so I decided to try the contrast pool. You sit in a 103 degree hot tub for about 10 minutes, then immediately plunge into a 64 degree pool about 3 feet in diameter. It is supposed to improve circulation. It certainly got me moving quickly. After the plunge, I sat in the inhalation room with a cool peppermint towel on my face. Soon, it was time to head back to the fireside lounge for my massage. My therapist let me pick the scent of my massage lotion as well as the music we listened to during the massage. There were small extra touches along the way such as scented paper on the head rest and an eye bag for my face. It was a wonderful experience. Later in the day, Bill and I went back to the spa to enjoy the pools. We listened to the under water music in the lap pool, sat under the therapeutic waterfalls in the hot tub, and sat outside in the whirlpool while staring out at the mountains. Talk about peaceful!! We were able to go right to dinner after the spa since the water has no chlorine in it - it is all enriched with minerals to make your skin and hair silky smooth.

Before we hit the spa, we did take a tour of the historic park of the inn. The original building will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013. We rode the main elevator that is built in to the side of the fireplace, and viewed the palm court lounge area. We also looked at the photos of the building of the inn - a remarkable feat that was done with one steam shovel and took only 1 year.

While in Asheville, we checked out some local beer houses, and found a great place called The Thirsty Monk. The Monk has 2 sections - an upstairs featuring brews from USA, and a downstairs featuring brews from Europe. We each enjoyed two tasty Belgiums in the downstairs bar and had dinner as well. I would recommend the Monk, and hope I get a chance to return. We headed back to the inn, and slept wonderfully with the open windows letting in the mountain air.

Sadly, Tuesday was our last day of vacation. We did start with a bang. We ate breakfast in downtown at Tupelo Honey, which we agreed was the best breakfast either of us ever had. With a quick stop in neighboring Black Mountain, our vacation was over. It sure was a great one, though. I hope we will have a chance to go back and stay at The Grove Park Inn again. I bet is is beautiful at Christmastime...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Second Tri

This past Sunday, I participated in my second triathlon. It has been about 8 months since my first triathlon, so I was a bit anxious about this one. While I have been working out, I didn't really "train" specifically for this race. I swam, took spin class, and ran as individual pursuits, but never did a "brick" workout (putting together two of the disciplines - usually a bike ride followed by a run).

The morning started at a very early 4:30 am. This tri was located in the town of Wake Forest, about 45 minutes from home. We had only been to the venue the day before the event. The swim club were the pool was located was very nice. It was big enough so that racers did not have to use the same lanes for going down the pool and back again. That was a tremendous advantage when you needed to pass another swimmer or to be passed. It didn't slow down your particular race too much. As with my first tri, I felt very comfortable in the water. Even though I was passed several time during the 250m swim, I felt very strong. I finished by swim in 6:30, which was faster by about a minute from my first tri.

I was off on the bike pretty quickly. The beginning of the bike race felt like it was mostly downhill. I was a bit nervous as I saw the racers before me coming back on the same route. I wondered if I would still have the strength at the end of the race. Luckily, I felt that my legs and my riding just got stronger as I continued the 12 mile bike ride. Those hills I feared didn't seem too bad on the way back to the transition area.

I saw Bill in transition. He had started the race almost 40 minutes before I started my race, so he was finished well before I reached T2. He gave my words of encouragement as my weary legs took me out to the 5K run.

The run was tough. Not only did I have wobbly legs, the route was a very hilly one and the heat of the day was setting in. I also started feeling a bit of an upset stomach and my left foot was tingling due to a too tight race chip. Still, I felt like I finished strong and was only about 3 minutes off my PR for a 5K.

All in all, it was a great race. I really do like the challenge of the three sports together. I was aiming for a 1:50 finish, and I came in at 1:44:24.2. I was quite pleased. I also had a good time wtaching my friends, J&M, in their first triathlon. We all finished the race with smiles on our faces.

Next tri is in 2 weeks - featuring a longer lake swim and a longer bike ride. Hope I do as well.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King is Dead

I was as shocked as everyone else to learn of Michael Jackson's passing this past Thursday. I actually found out via Facebook with all of the status updates referencing his passing. While he had gone a bit off the deep end in the last few years, there is no doubt that he was an influence on me as a child and as a teenager.

My first real dance recital was to a Micheal Jackson song. I was taking a jazz dance class and we performed to "Don't stop til You get Enough."

I remember going to my friend Carrie's house with all of the other girls in the neighborhood so we could watch the world premiere of the Thriller video on MTV. It was all we talked about for days.

I remember watching MJ on the Motown special. I tried to moonwalk in the living room for weeks after that performance. I never did get it down.

My first concert ever was The Jackson's Victory Tour at Dodger's Stadium in L.A.

And, yes, I had a Micheal Jackson poster in my bedroom.

There can be no doubt of Michael's influence on pop culture and music. I am saddened that a life was lost so early, and hope he will be remembered for his amazing presence and not his crazy later in life behavior.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Community Giving

I decided at the beginning of this year that I wanted to focus on community giving. Well, I have been trying to do just that, but it has been tougher than expected.

I organized a team to walk in the local Race for the Cure. I really thought we would have a good turn out. When I first made mention of the idea, people said they would be happy to join the team. I thought for sure people could take a few minutes out of their weekends to walk 3.1 mi for a worthy cause. Well, I was disappointed.

We had 8 people sign up for the team. Out of those 8 people, four actually showed for the event. With more than 40 people at the office, I ready hoped the turn out would be greater. I know that the economy is tight, and perhaps that is why people could not sign up. I know it is also summer, so that could have been a factor with people vacationing. It is just discouraging when you set up these things and four is the best turn out you get. My colleague, Beth, was a brave soul who walked with hubby and I in the heat. Another colleague ran the competitive race earlier in the morning (as did hubby), but we never saw him in the mass of people who were there. I did not run the 5K, but did a 5 mile run on my own before walking.

I was thinking of having a Habitat for Humanity work day in the fall. I am now going to rethink that idea. I would not want to be the only one to show up.

I am not giving up yet - I will be working on the Extra Hands committee again this year for the Junior League. Our committee puts together one day events for a variety of charities that need help. We get a better turn out - membership requires that ladies do at least on of these events a year!

Monday, June 15, 2009

My pup and the turtle

My girls found a turtle in our backyard. They had never seem anything like it. After barking at it for quite some time, they became fascinated by it. No worries, no animals were harmed in this adventure. The turtle was safely released in the front yard.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Piles of magazines

I have so many magazines piled on the side of my bed. It is absolutely ridiculous. I love magazines, but I can never seem to get to them. I am usually distracted by a good book, so the pile grows. I wish I could have a full day just to sit and read my magazines. It would feel so good just to get caught up. Here is what I think is in the pile:

7 months of House Beautiful (I just canceled this subscription which I hate)
5 months of Runner's World (Started the February issue last night)
4 months of Harper's Bazaar (I love the fashion)
1 month of InStyle
1 week of People (plus the new issue which arrived today)
1 issue of People Style Watch
and a number of random magazines like Endurance, Triathlete, the University of Georgia Alumni news, etc.

I really do like all of these magazines, I am just afraid for where this pile may be headed. How many mags can I stack in one pile?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Talking to a Nutritionist

Part of the welcome package at my new gym includes a 30 minute meeting with a nutritionist. I have never been to one before, so I gladly took advantage of the opportunity.

It was a really great session. We talked about my normal daily diet and my exercise levels, then talked about ways to change my diet to make it more nutritionally sound. I got some great pointers. She told me to add milk to my morning routine. For some weird reason, I eat my cereal dry. She pointed out that adding milk, a protein, would help me feel fuller through the morning. Since I was not getting enough dairy in my diet, it was the perfect fit.

Another great tip is to add protein to the afternoon snack. I usually eat fruit or veggies in the afternoon, but am still hungry by the time I leave work. She pointed out that I should have peanut butter, hummus, cheese, or some nuts (except macadamias) with my snack to feel more full.

We also went over portion control and being sure to have veggies and/or salads with dinner.

It was a really great session. I felt like I learned lots of good tips. I am so glad that our gym is really a wellness center and that we get these extra benefits to help us feel the best we can. I have my last session, the health evaluation, coming up soon.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Great Ride

Last Saturday, hubby and I joined our good friends J & M for a bike ride. We had been planning to do a ride together for a long time, and last Saturday was finally the day. This was not just a meandering ride, though. J planned a great adventure for all of us.

We started out a J & M's house. From there, we headed downtown by taking advantage of the wonderful Greenway system around town. We were just on a main road for a little bit of time, then we were in neighborhoods and trails. It was a gorgeous day for a ride. The boys lead the way, with us girls following behind. It probably worked well as we could each have our little conversations as we rode. We saw gorgeous homes along the way to the downtown area. We rode about 11 miles before reaching our first destination, MoJoe's. We stopped for a quick beer (see picture) before heading on.

J designed a route with many possible stops. He took us past local landmarks (such as the home that was featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) as well as historic sites (the Historic Oakwood neighborhood, the Jewish cemetery, the Confederate cemetery, Governor's mansion, etc.) We made another beer stop at 101 Lounge downtown before grabbing a quick snack at The Roast Grill. The Roast Grill was recently featured on the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food show. Host Adam Richman at 17 hot dogs to create a new record, but it was quickly broken by a local man who currently holds the record. We each ate 1 hot dog and moved on to the next stop.

We rode over to Boylan Bridge Brew Pub for a beautiful view of the downtown landscape. We enjoyed a locally brewed beer there, then moved on to the final section of the ride. From there, we headed over to Cameron Village. We ended our journey there with a proper lunch at Piccola Italian Restaurant. When it was all said and done, we rode 19+ miles and had a great afternoon.

Check out J's blog for more pictures and his take on the afternoon. It was a fantastic time and I hope we do it again soon

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Season Ends

Last night, my good friend H and I went to the last game of the Carolina Hurricanes season. We had hoped it would not be the final game, but it was.

The Canes were swept, losing 4 games to none, by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Canes had pulled off some miraculous play in the post season, beating both New Jersey and Boston (both higher seeded teams) in seven games. I suppose there are only so many miracle to go around. The Canes never seemed to get it together in this round. The Penguins certainly found their stride and simply outplayed the Canes four games in a row. I wish them luck in The Stanley Cup Finals and really do hope they bring the win back to the Eastern Conference.

The thing I love the most about our team and our fans is that despite the fact that the game signified the end of the season, the fans gave the players a standing ovation for the final 1:30 minutes of the season. We were cheering equally as loud as we had in the beginning of the game. I think it is really nice to send the boys off to the summer vacation knowing we love them and we appreciate the ride, even if they didn't nab the Cup. I hope it gave them some solace in the face of defeat.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Liking the new gym

I am really enjoying our new gym.

This evening I went for a fitness consultation. It was an opportunity for me to ask questions about any of the fitness equipment available at the gym. We started off slow and I wondered if I had made a mistake with the appointment. I thought perhaps I would not get much out of it. I mentioned that I was particularly interested in working my core and my upper body. Once he heard this news, we were up and running.

He took me all over the gym floor to point out different pieces of equipment and different exercise I could do to reach my goals. We used rubber balls, mats, free weight, machines, medicine balls, and the floor. I love that I have new ideas and new exercises to try. I have always felt that I never know what to do in the gym, but I have no fears now. I have a good foundation of moves now, and it was all complementary.

I am looking forward to my nutrition evaluation next week. I also plan to take advantage of the free clinics held periodically. There are clinics to highlight upper body, lower body, abs, stretching, and many others. I really think this gym will work for me. I am feeling motivated already.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Heart is Intact

Yes, the Cardiac Canes struck again!! My team did win Game 7 last night (as they have won every game 7). They won it in spectacular fashion - in overtime. Scott Walker was the hero - the same man who nearly got suspended for throwing a big punch in game 5. I know the Boston fans must have been doubly upset. Me - I am happy as can be.

My Canes continue to play on. Beginning on Monday, they will start the Eastern Conference Championship round against Pittsburgh. Who knows what the Cardiac Canes will do next? I just hope they continue to win and to thrill the fans. I hope I get to be there to see at least one game.

Four teams remain - the Pittsburgh Penguins, The Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Carolina Hurricanes. One will capture the Cup. It could be my team.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Canes: Don't Break my Heart

Well, the Carolina Hurricanes had done the unbelievable. They were leading the top team in the Eastern Conference 3 games to 1 in the second round of the playoffs. It was totally unexpected. Boston had swept Montreal in the first round, and had beaten Carolina all 4 times they met in the regular season. Now, the underdog had the upper hand.

That was last Friday. Now, the Canes have lost 2 games in a row. The series is now tied and Game 7 is tonight. I was at game 6. I paid my money, wore my lucky earrings, sat of the left side of my best hockey buddy, Heather, and they lost. There was a chance to put away the series at home, and they lost. It just looked to me like they had no fire, no urgency to win. Despite the 30+ shots on goal to Boston's 19, the Canes just looked tired. Tonight, they go back to Boston and now each team is desperate for the win. One team will play Pittsburgh for the Eastern Conference Championship, and the other team will start summer vacation.

On Tuesday, my gut was 100% certain that the Canes would win at home. Now, my gut is 100% certain that the Canes will lose in Boston. The Carolina Hurricanes have never lost a Game 7 in franchise history. I am told that the Bruins have never won a Game 7.

My gut is usually wrong. Let's hope the streak continues tonight.