Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Work Sadness

Man, first my Grandma, and now another downer post.  Sorry.  I'm still a generally happy person, just encountering sadness lately. 

I don't want to talk specifically about work, but my husband and I have both noticed in the last week the saddest trend -- many adult victims of sexual violence have a history of being victims of sexual violence. 

I'm dealing with an adult woman who is the victim of a recent sexual assault.  Sad.  But I just found out that she was first raped at age 7.  I mentioned this to hubby and he said he was surprised I'd never noticed that before.  I guess it's less that I hadn't noticed it, but more that I hadn't thought about it.  He said he sees it all the time -- adult victims who've been victimized before.  

It's such a horrible cycle.  Some people are victimized again and again.  I wonder what causes that.  I would assume it has to be outside factors (it's not that these people (women) are particularly beautiful or anything), but is it?  Do victims somehow subconsciously put themselves in positions to be victimized again?  Are they more willing to tolerate that behavior?  Does it all relate to economics?  How can the cycle end?  Or better yet, how can the cycle never begin?  I just don't understand, and sometimes I remember to thank my lucky stars that I've never been victimized like that.

The statistics about domestic violence and sexual assault are scary of course, as pretty much everyone knows.  I once had a relatively minor "domestic" incident with the guy I was dating when I was in high school -- we broke up immediately afterward and though I missed him, I knew better than to ever go back to him after that had happened.  And the incident was really minor -- a shove, no injury resulted or anything, but I knew enough to walk away.  And I guess technically I've probably been verbally or emotionally abused by some ex-boyfriend, but it seems that lots of juvenile relationships end with ugly things being said.  I wouldn't count that, at least it's nothing compared to the physical sexual violence some women suffer, often beginning well before adulthood.

But I really wonder how this keeps happening.  Is it common that someone is victimized repeatedly (meaning as a child, and then in a wholly unrelated incident(s) as an adult)?  Or is it just that most the adult victims I encounter have this pattern?  And for the few child victims I encounter (very rare), does this mean they are essentially doomed to a life of being victimized?  Is it just women victimized as children who continue to be victimized while men victimized as children instead become victimizers?  Why do these patterns persist? 

Sad.  I wish I could fix the world.

One of my ideas if I ever rule the world is to run criminal DNA checks on every single corpse so we can at least close down some open cases, though it's too late for justice.  If only there were some way to stop these sad victimization cycles too. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

FMM: Make-up Favorites

I still have a heavy heart from the sad news this weekend, and it doesn't help that I'm sore for 4.5 hours of hot yoga on Sat and Sun, plus the half-marathon on Saturday.  So I'm just feeling kind of blah.  But it’s time for FMM!   And I was surprised to see that this week’s topic is courtesy of Bella, perhaps the blog I've read the longest. If you haven't already, check out her blog,http://bellaonthebeach.wordpress.com/.
If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Makeup Favorites

  1. Do you wear makeup everyday?  If I'm going to work I do.  I tend to skip it on days I'm working from home or weekends, unless we're going out to dinner or something.  But all I usually wear is eyeliner, lipliner and lipstick.  Almost never wear anything else.  I wish I were confident and pretty enough to skip it all every day.  
  2. Does your routine change if you’re going out with friends/on a date/to a party?  If it's something formal or a wedding, I put a bit more time into it and I actually wear mascara and stuff.  But for just going out with friends, I stick with my usual routine -- eyeliner, lipliner, lipstick.  
  3. Are you loyal to one brand, or do you use different brands for different things?  Different brands for different things.  I think it's Revlon eyeliner and lipliner, and then I wear two lipsticks most days -- Mary Kay and Trish McAvoy.  
  4. Do you wear primer/concealer? If so, what’s your favorite kind? No.  
  5. What’s your favorite brand of foundation? Don't really have one.  
  6. Do you use blush and/or bronzer?  If so, what’s your favorite kind?  No, don't usually wear either.  I have Trish blush that I'll wear on the rare occasion I use it -- about 4 times a year maybe...
  7. Do you wear eye shadow/eye liner?  If so, what’s your favorite kind? Revlon eyeliner seems to last the longest of the pencils, and I don't usually take the time to do liquid.  
  8. What’s your favorite kind of mascara?  Lancome, and I wear this maybe more like once a month, but it's still pretty rare.  
  9. Lipstick? Lip gloss? Both? Favorite? Lipstick most days -- as I said, Mary Kay underneath, Trish on top.  And I wear tons of chapstick -- whenever I'm working out and before bed.  
  10. Do you wear nail polish regularly?  If so, share a few of your favorite brands/colors.  No.  I usually get pedicures in the summer, but I get very lazy in the winter.  As for finger nails, I usually only have them done when I'm in a wedding.  
  11. How do you remove your makeup at the end of the day?  Uh-oh.  No, it usually fades off and doesn't seem to be there by the time I leave work, so I just don't bother.  I go through phases where I try to be good about taking it off at night, but I'm usually just exhausted and I'm lucky to get my contacts out.  
  12. Do you feel prettier when you’re wearing makeup?  I suppose, but I probably feel most confident while working out or right afterward, and no make-up then.  I have fairly complicated feelings about make-up, and think it's better to be happy with yourself the way you are, which makes me not want to wear make-up.  But I give in, and wear it all the time.  Peer pressure.  I wish no one wore it.  
  13. Do you have any beauty tips that you could pass along?  No, I'm excited to read other responses to get some tips.  I guess my best tip is lots of water and lots of sweat -- makes your skin better, which always makes make-up look better, and maybe less necessary.  
Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!  Don’t forget to say hi to Bella and a few other bloggers!  And also be sure to come back and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  Happy Monday friends!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sadly Memorable Half Marathon

This morning was a half marathon out at the lake where I run pretty regularly, and I decided to do it with my local bestie and wear my pack with the 35 pound vest inside.

She said she'd stay with me no matter what, but I worried that we wouldn't finish within the time limit.  The course closes after 3.5 hours, which is about a 16 min/mile pace.

Last weekend, when I did my long walk with the pack (9 miles), followed by a long walk with the vest (9 miles), my average pace was slower than that.  Actually, I don't think I had any sub-16 miles. 

But today I thought I would try to jog some.  It was going to be my first time jogging with the pack, so I wanted to be careful.  Bestie was on board and we decided we'd start running/jogging each mile, go for as long as it felt okay, then walk the remainder of the mile, and start running again at the next mile marker.

We basically followed our plan.  There were a couple places where the water stop was right by the mile marker, so we would delay our run until we finished our waters, but we did it.

I was shocked at how well it went.  For the first several miles, we basically ran about half a mile, then walked the rest.  There were probably a couple in there where we only ran .3 or .4 and then walked, but mostly we were around .5.

But by about mile 5, we were picking it up.  The pace on the running was slowing down a little, but the runs were getting longer.  We would be running about .7 every time. 

We finally got to mile 12 and we started our run, and we just didn't stop.  There was a monster hill at the end (coincidentally, a monster downhill right at the start, which was how we hatched the run/walk plan, b/c I wanted to take advantage of that downhill!).  We hit mile 13 on the hill and kept right on going.

It was awesome!  I don't think my mood was particularly good, but my bestie can talk!  I got confused about the math a couple times, which is rare for me during a run, but it worked out and we even finished with a little bit of a cushion on the time.

I'm hurting.  Muscles are all fine, sore as expected.  But major pain in my lower back.  Chafing type pain.  Since I had guessed we'd be walking a lot, I decided to wear pants because it was cold (well, Dallas cold) and windy.  Well, good plan in terms of temps, but overall, poor planning.  I didn't think about what might happen wearing these particular pants with the backpack.  There was a tiny little zipper pocket on the back.  Right where the bottom of the pack's frame hit my lower back.  Ugh.  It seemed to rub me raw.  I was afraid there wouldn't be any skin left when I finished and my entire upper @ss would be a bloody mess.  Bestie looked at it afterward and said there was no broken skin but a very wide and long welt (I'm guessing 3x8 inches).  It will kill when I take a shower, which I'm going to postpone as long as humanly possible (oh, my poor husband!). 

But I finished and was so excited to have done 13.1 miles with the pack.  And doing it with a friend made it so much fun.  We crack ourselves up. 

Unfortunately, as soon as I got home, I looked at my phone.  Lots of missed calls.  Hubby and Dad.  Hubby had actually called Bestie while she was driving us home b/c he wanted to make sure we were okay and had finished the race.  And since it was race day and it had been many hours since we talked, I wasn't surprised to see those missed calls.  But Dad?  Calling at 8:15 on a weekend morning?  Probably not good. 

Indeed, Dad was calling to tell me Grandma had died at 2:30 this morning.

She had been doing okay physically, but she's had Alzheimer's for the last few years and it was hard.  She forgot almost everything, even during the course of a short conversation.  So I know she's in a better place, and she had a long full life.  But it's sad.  Oddly memorable half marathon. 

Not sure if we're going home for the funeral.  Will have to talk to my boss and look at flights.  Sigh.  Not what I want to be doing, but I guess it was inevitable.  Sigh...

Actually, updating later, I forgot that there aren't any funerals up there in the winter!  Can't bury anyone in solid ground.  So I'll probably wait until whenever they have the service in the spring to go home.  Wishing I could have been there to see her again though, and wishing I could be there now to hug my family and reminisce with them. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Break in the Yoga Streak

I knew it was coming, but yesterday finally ended my yoga streak.  I had gone every single day, beginning on Saturday, January 7, until Wednesday, January 25. 

And then yesterday, I got up in the morning for a short run with my group, went to work and worked all day, then went out with colleagues to dinner.  And drank and ate way too much.

No yoga.

We went to Del Frisco's for dinner.  Sometimes it's tough being a vegetarian when everyone seems to think steak restaurants are all the rage.  At some of my fave steak places, they have amazing veggie sides. 

Nothing at Del Frisco's wowed me.  The asparagus comes with almonds on it, so I couldn't eat that.  I got a baked potato that was very average.  The mushrooms were fairly blah.  The whipped potatoes were pretty good.  The lobster mac and cheese (without the lobster of course) was probably the best thing, but it was a little runnier than I would have liked. 

But aside from the meal, I was really happy with my appetizer (asparagus tempura), my salad (wedge with blue cheese, no bacon), my dessert (lemon layer cake, still have some left-over for an afternoon treat today), and my drinks (a raspberry martini, followed by an off-menu pineapple martini, followed by a blackberry ginger martini, followed by lots of good red wine).

So after all that food, it ended up being a late night, so I skipped boot camp this morning in favor of sleep, and I've been insanely productive today while working from home, despite taking a couple hours off in the morning to go to grandparents and godparents day at my godson's preschool. 

But I miss yoga.  I feel bloated, swollen, heavy, and tired.  Usually the opposite of how I feel when I'm getting my regular dose of yoga. 

This is the last week of yoga though for a while, so I should get used to it I guess.  Either way, looking forward to this afternoon's class! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Frustrating attempt to do something good today.

Blood drive at work, so I went to donate.  I'm a "universal donor" so I really should give more often.

I was a little nervous about having to list where I'd travelled outside the US and Canada in the last 3 years, particularly since Turkey and Russia are on that list and I didn't know if either of those would cause problems.

Turns out it's fine to give blood if you've recently been to Russia, I didn't even have to identify the cities we visited to have it clear (but in Greece and Turkey I did). 

I'm not completely clear on Greece.  A trip to Athens allows you to still donate, but Fira, Thira, Santorini wasn't listed (I couldn't remember what the island's name was in English!  I think Santorini, and I think Fira is Greek and Thira is Italian, but either way, I checked all three, not listed).  So I told the woman who was screening me that I thought it would count as "Ionian Islands" and you're clear to give blood if you've been there.

And it's fine to give blood if you've recently been to Turkey, or at least Istanbul -- since I had to indicate where, presumably the whole country isn't clear.

So I was all set.  Good BP, good hemoglobin.  Selected my donation arm, survived the stick, blood started flowing.  I tried to do some reading for work.

They came to mess with the needle a couple times and just said they'd let me go, even though it was slow.  I wouldn't be setting any donation speed records.  No big deal.

So I sat, squeezed the ball, sat, squeezed the ball.  Eventually it turns out my blood clotted in the needle so I gave less than a full unit and they had to pitch it.

Turns out if you donate less than the full unit, all that you donate is garbage.  And once the blood has stopped flowing, they can't just hook you back up to the bag to finish filling it using a different vein or arm or something.

Useless.  I should have asked if they could try pumping it back into me, or, just to freak them out, since I read Twilight last year, I should have asked if I could just have it to drink.  But really, I wish they could have just made a small incision on my belly and poured it back in.

Major frustration.  I am planning to end my yoga streak tonight that I started Jan. 7 (since I have a work dinner tomorrow night and can't attend yoga anyway), and now I'm probably going to have a crappy class because they took blood but not enough for it to be of any use to them.  I could handle a crappy yoga class if at least I felt like I had done something to help someone else.  But it was all for naught.

And now I don't think I can give again for about 4 years, since we're planning to go to China in the fall and two of the cities we're visiting aren't on the "clear" list. 

But after this wasted effort, sadly, I'm not really inclined to do it again even when I'm cleared again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Most Active Weekend Ever

My body is aching but I feel so good!  I can't believe how much stuff I did this past weekend.

Friday I started with boot camp, followed immediately by 90 mins of yoga.  Then a day of work, volunteering for a race at a running store, and then more work, going out to dinner with friends (and their INCREDIBLY poorly behaved but cute and bilingual kids).  Seriously, their 3 year old probably speaks Italian at about my level, and he also knows some Arabic and English of course.  We ate pizza with them and then went out for fro-yo. 

Saturday morning I was up dark and early for my first walk with my pack.  I decided to put the weighted vest into the pack and carry it that way.  So I was actually carrying more than 35 pounds. 

It hurt.  The plan was to walk 18 miles with the pack (and then I'll do 27 miles on two other Saturdays closer to the marathon).  Yikes.  Not a brilliant decision on my part, especially since Saturday was my absolute first time wearing the pack.

I've gotten lots of experience wearing my vest that weighs 35 pounds.  I've been running with it and have gotten up to running a 10k without stopping while wearing it.  And I'm certainly a lot slower than running without a vest, but I'm not as slow as I expected.  I'd guess it slows me down about 2-3 minutes (more 3 than 2) per mile.  But the vest is fairly well distributed, and after I got used to it, it hasn't been so bad.

The pack is tough.  It doesn't have a waist or a chest strap, just one strap over each shoulder (typical military issue).  My shoulders hurt so much, and my lower back hurt too.  The pack kind of hit my lower back/upper butt the whole time.

Our local lake is just over 9 miles around, so I was able to swing by my car once in the middle.  I started off walking with a friend, then dropped her at her car and picked up another friend who'd been dropped off there.  Walked with her for about 5 or 6 more miles, then she got picked up and my hubby got dropped off.  He walked with me for several more miles, including the point where I hit my car.

There was just no way I could walk another 9 miles with the pack, so he helped me take the pack off and I put the vest on instead.  It felt better, but by then I was already getting pretty tired of walking.  It had been hours.  Usually if you run around the lake, it goes so fast, but walking is a whole different story. 

Hubby and I kept walking, then my local bestie met us.  We all walked together, and along the way, another friend, her husband and their 2 kids came to a park at the lake to say hi as we walked by, so we got to stop and chat with them a little.  Then we walked to hubby's car and left him there, then we walked another couple miles and picked up another friend, and the 3 of us finished it off. 

By the last few miles, I was sore and feeling silly.  We were laughing a lot and both of them did a great job of distracting me from the task at hand.  We sat down for my 5th break and as we sat, my favorite running coach of all time happened to run past, so she stopped and chatted with us for a long time.  I had a lot of trouble when I got back up.  Mostly my feet.  It felt like the bottoms of my feet were blistering or chafing. 

But we made it!  18 miles and change.  Way more hours than I've ever been on my feet before.  Slower than even my slowest marathon.  Not a single bit of running and not a single step alone. 

I got home and put my feet up for a while.  Hubby made me lunch and I scarfed it down and napped a little.

Then, though I really wasn't sure about it, I went to yoga.  It was another tough class for me -- mostly because it hurt so much to stand on my feet.  I ended up sitting out 2 postures completely (triangle and one of the spine series).  And I took it easy in a lot of the others, but I did it.  Another 90 minutes of exercise.

I got home and fell asleep in the bathtub before 8:00, I was completely exhausted.  Thankfully I guess I don't live alone so he woke me up before I drowned. 

Then Sunday morning I was planning to run with my group for 6 miles with the vest, and then head over to a 5k race and do that with the vest too.  Another 9 miles. 

I woke up and thought there was just no way.  I considered just sleeping in, figuring they could run without me.  But part of a running group is that everyone shows up. 

So I dragged myself up.  Still had some pain on the bottoms of my feet when I was walking on carpet (hard floors were fine), and the back of one of my knees hurt (biceps femoris area).  But nothing too bad, just sore and stiff.

Like a somewhat sane person, I decided to run the 6 miles with the group without the vest.  Whew!  Old me would have put on the vest and soldiered through, possibly injuring myself.  Running without the vest felt much better.  I haven't run without the vest in so long that it felt strange.  I wouldn't say it was easy though, even though I ran at my "with vest" slower pace. 

By the time I was done with 6 miles, I was glad I'd gone for the run, but there was absolutely no way I was going to head out to do a 5k afterward.  Not even a chance. 

Instead I went home, chilled for a little while, and then went for yoga again.  My feet were still a little sore, but I basically did everything that I'd normally do. 

And then planted myself back on couch Sunday at noon and that was it.  I didn't think I was ever going to move again. 

Those 30 hours were intense in terms of exercise!  18 miles walking, 6 miles running, and 3 hours of heated yoga.  Holy crap!  Who am I?? 

Thrilled to have gotten 9 miles with the pack over the weekend, and 9 more miles with the vest.  When I walk again in 3 weeks, I'm going to try to wear the pack for 2 loops and then wear the vest for the third one.  And when I do my third and final walk, I'll try to wear the pack the whole time.  And hopefully I'll have a waist strap that alleviates some of the pain. 

And thrilled to have continued the yoga streak.  I've now gone every single day since Jan. 7.  Not a ton, but not bad.  I am definitely taking a day off of yoga this week Thurs. since I have a work dinner that night and am running with friends in the morning (and it's not Friday so I can't do yoga right afterward and then just work from home while I'm a sweaty mess). 

I think that counts as my most active weekend ever.  Even on weekends where I've done a marathon, it's still not that many hours of activity.  I suppose when I did the MS150 bike rides in high school (my whole family participated, my parents took turns pulling my little brothers in a biking stroller thing), I was technically active for more hours.  We'd usually do the century loop on the first day (100 miles), then ride 70 the next day.  And I never rode particularly fast, so I guess that was probably technically more hours of activity over 2 days than I did this past weekend, but this weekend wins for my adult life!

Crazy to think that I'll have a couple more weekends before the marathon where I'll actually do even more.  It's like my weekend days are being converted into really long exercise days and nothing else except the occasional movie on TV and load of laundry.  Wow!  Who'd have thunk it?...

Monday, January 23, 2012

FMM: Short Answers

My weekend was crazy busy with physical activity and I'm still kind of worn out.  So why not do a Friend Making Monday again?! 

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: http://www.alltheweigh.com/ so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Short Answers

1.  Mac or PC?  I use PCs at work, so that's what I'm most comfortable using I guess.  But it's not a strong preference.

2.  Do you paint your own nails?  Only in a pinch -- if they're painted and one has chipped or something.  I'll occasionally do my own toenails, but I actually just haven't been into polish for the last few years.  I had fills when we got married and I still notice in wedding photos how downright awesome my hands look, so maybe at one point I'll get back into having them done regularly. 

3.  Beach or mountains?  I guess it would be cheating to say both or either since the whole point is to choose.  I guess I'd go with beach right now.  The town in Italy where we got engaged and married and where we want to live one day is on the beach and it's wonderful.  But right now, I'd settle for pretty much any beach (or any mountain, but I didn't say that). 

4.  What’s the title of the book you’re currently reading?  I'm almost always reading several books at once.  But since one of my resolutions was to keep track of my reading, I need to be keeping a list.  I'm reading two fiction books right now, which is weird for me.  The Drop, by Michael Connellly, b/c he's my husband's favorite author and he loved the book and wanted me to read it.  And Ursula Under, by Ingrid Hill, b/c it was a book club selection, but I didn't finish on time because I wasn't into it.  But it's a very intriguing way of writing (it's kind of a modern story, but it keeps tracing back to this child's ancestors and telling parts of their stories, like someone in the 1600s who passes through a town and impregnates the innkeeper's daughter, and that child has a child who has a child who has a child, etc., all leading up to one of this little girl's parents -- very fun to think about!).  And for non-fiction, I'm reading some language books on learning Chinese, but those kind of don't count in my mind for some reason.  My main non-fiction is re-reading Tears in the Darkness, by Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman, in preparation for the marathon (a Bataan Death March story).

5.  Do you dance?  Not really, but I'd love to learn.  We always dance at weddings and my husband is so much better than I am.  I love it, love it, love it, but am just not good at it. 

6.  CNN or Fox News? If I had to choose between those two, CNN, but I can't remember the last time I watched it.  Way too much commentary, and too much coverage of the "missing white woman of the week."  I usually watch EuroNews or RAI (though I still don't understand all of it).  I like international news coverage much more.  I sometimes watch the English-language Chinese station now too (preparing for our trip) and despite the fact that I'd watched about 2 hours of the Today Show and before that had vaguely listened to CNN while hubby was watching it, the Chinese station was the most coverage I heard of the first day with the new Egyptian Parliament, something I'd consider real news.  US media is so frustrating. 

7.  Do you ride a bicycle?  No, I don't have one right now.  I really want to get one next year I think, or maybe the following year.  It would be fun to have as an alternative to running. 

8.  Do you get a yearly flu shot?  Yes, mostly just since my employer and hubby's offer them.  And I hate being sick so much.  My husband comes into contact with the general public, so he could bring all kinds of stuff home. 

9.  Best movie you’ve seen in 2012?  The only ones we've watched have been Netflix -- Incendies (highly recommend) and Bridesmaids (way overrated, waste of time).  I guess we've watched some movies on TV too, mostly Lifetime since I had control of the remote, though hubby was completely hooked on the Drew Peterson Story -- so bad!! 

10.  Do you prefer to workout at home or at the gym?  Uh, why is this the question?  What about neither, meaning working out outside?  I would choose an outdoor workout (running or boot camp) over an indoor workout at home or the gym 360 days out of the year!  But I guess the whole point is to choose one of the two options offered, so I'll go with the gym.  While a dreadmill is insanely boring, things like rowing machines, a basketball court, racquetball courts, a pool, and weight machines (though I prefer body weight exercises) are a nice change of pace for those 5 days a year I would not prefer to work out outside.  At home I never seem to get in as good a workout as outside or at the gym. 

11.  Last airport you were in?  Haha, isn't this a trick question?  Of course it's everyone's home airport (unless they flew somewhere and never came home, or drove home or something).  Haha.  Since that's probably not what the question meant, the last airport I was in besides my local one (DFW) was General Mitchell Airport (Milwaukee) when I left there after being home for Christmas.  I will have to read other people's answers to this one to see if anyone is as literal as I am. 

12.  Married or single?  Married just over 1,000 days. 

13.  iPhone or Android? iPhone

14.  Do you prefer to be in pictures or taking pictures?  Taking pictures.  I think I answered this one before.

15.  Favorite brand of sneakers?  I run in Brooks.  Usually the Glycerine.

16.  Do you like snow?  I love it for up to 5 days in a year around Christmas only if I don't have to drive in it.  Hate driving in it (see posts about wrecking a car on Christmas this year), hate working out in it, hate when it gets all dirty, but really love a few days of it.  I like it if I'm skiing too, but I haven't gone skiing in so long. 

17.  Do you have/want to have kids?  No.  Just not right for my life. 

18.  Summer or Winter?  Hmm... this is tough.  Most of my life the easy answer was summer.  But now that I live in Texas, summers are a little warm to really be comfortable, so that's make me grow to love fall since that's more like what I think of as summer weather (and now that I'm out of school, summers aren't quite so much fun).  But I'll still go with summer if I have to choose. 

19.  Do you know how to swim?  Not really.  I can get by for a short distance, and I'm pretty much okay on my back, but I don't know proper form and I don't really swim for exercise (though I know it's one of the best non-running fitness activities there is), but if there's a beer on a raft in a lake, I can make it out to the raft. 

20.  Do you prefer to shop in store or online?  Neither really.  I guess for clothes for myself I'd say in stores, for gifts for other people, I'd say online.  Though I'm considering renting a dress for the Mardi Gras ball this year -- scary, since I like seeing how things actually look on me and this will require just taking a leap of faith that it will fit and look okay.  We'll see. 

Now it’s your turn.  Post your own answers and share on the blog alltheweigh.com.

Friday, January 20, 2012

All before 10 a.m.

I think I mentioned at the end of August that I was going to start working from home on Fridays.  There have been several weeks it hasn't completely worked out and I've had to go into the office -- either for a meeting or because of internet issues at home.

But we finally got new internet service this week and it's so much better.  So today I'm taking full advantage and basically have had my dream morning.

We got up as always and went to boot camp.  I wake up at 5 to be there and ready to work out at 5:30.  Hubby takes way longer to get ready so he gets up at 4:15. 

Since he's off today, we got to ride together to camp.  Good class, solid workout, not as much running as I usually like, but good.

Class ended at 6:30 and we came home to reorganize a little.  I got my computer set up, pulled up the documents I'll likely use today, checked emails, etc.  And I reorganized a little too.

We were back out the door by 7:10 and at the yoga studio by 7:20 for the 7:30 class.  And it was a small class (guess most people can't be finishing yoga at 9 on a weekday), so there was lots of personal attention.  I've had a couple experiences where I've felt some pain in my left calf on a couple standing postures, so the instructor paid special attention to make sure I was doing it correctly.  Hubby is only on his third class, so he was also given some guidance, and it was his best class ever.  He's really improving (in some ways that means trying to do less, but doing it better, before he was trying to be like one of those class stars instead of building a solid foundation, but he's getting it now). 

At 9:00, class was done, and we were back home and I was sitting down to work by 9:30.  Ahh, what a lovely Friday!  I'm going to have to make myself shower at some point, since I'm volunteering at lunch today to help with a local race that benefits an animal shelter, but until then, I can just work and relax.  I like my job so much! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Post, not really

Grammatical errors have frustrated me from a very young age.  I remember elementary school teachers sending home letters with me in which there was a typo.  First my mom would find it and laugh about it, question why she wasn't home-schooling us, etc.  Then as the years went on, I'd find it, laugh about it, show it to my mom, and listen to her laugh about it. 

Because I am not a nice person, I keep old photo Christmas cards on my fridge when some idiot attempts to make his or her family's last name plural by using an apostrophe and an "s".  So the fridge is current pictures of everyone, and also years of pictures of those who don't seem to understand plurals. 

That's probably my favorite grammar error, but I don't discriminate.  At work last week I was reading something where the guy wrote:  I've "never" been "employed." 

Is it possible to read that without having a funny intonation on "never" and "employed." And is it possible to read that without wondering what exactly he was trying to imply by using the quotes?  Was he an independent contractor in a prior life? 

However, I rarely think to photograph the errors, so the amusement is fleeting.  I was proud of myself for thinking to snap a pic of one recently, and I actually submitted it to a site that makes me chuckle, Apostropheabuse.com.

Here's a link to my post:  http://www.apostropheabuse.com/2012/01/justice-for-one-of-its-own.html


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yoga Struggle

I went ahead and signed up for a 30 day yoga challenge, which technically started for me just before New Year's.  Our studio here seems to really encourage doing a challenge and they have big group starting dates several times per year. 

The 30 day challenge is a little different this year because they're letting you miss up to one day per week.  That has worked well for me.  I started it on a Wednesday and then had to miss the very next day because of work chaos (that I'm trying to forget), but got back to it on Friday and went straight through the following Thursday.  Then I missed Friday because of a dinner party we were hosting and had to be ready for, but I was back on Saturday.  And I have gone every single day since Saturday, Jan. 7. 

Yesterday marked my tenth straight class I think. 

And it was perhaps my toughest?  It was taught by the female half of the couple who own the studio, and I really like her.  She seems so happy and friendly in a very sincere way. 

But somehow I wasn't feeling it.  I actually sat out the first set of an entire posture, and I thought about doing it several other times. 

I almost never sit one out completely.  Even if it's something I can't completely do, I try to at least get into step one.  And if I can't get to step one, I at least bend toward step one. 

But last night I just sat down on my mat and watched for a while.  Sigh. 

Our instructor mentioned during class that if you're doing the challenge, you have to make sure you're replacing electrolytes.  Maybe that's my problem?  I haven't thought about that at all.  While my heart rate definitely goes up for several seconds in a row many, many times during class, my overall heart rate for the entire 90 minutes, the average, isn't high -- more on pace with a walk, than a fitness class or a run.  But I am certainly sweating a lot in yoga.  So maybe there's something to the electrolyte replacement idea.  Usually I get some when I'm running and afterward, but since my running pace is so much slower now, I don't feel like I need Gatorade or anything like that, so I'm more inclined to drink water.

Last night when I got home, I made sure I had a G2 with my quiche and hopefully that will help. 

If nothing else, I'm planning to take a day off on Thursday (when our Italian conversation class will be starting back up), so maybe that will get me back in my groove. 

By the way, ever since I saw the movie Idiocracy (incredibly stupid but, surprisingly enough, made a few good points), I can't help but laugh in my mind when I hear anything about needing electrolytes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

FMM: Health and Fitness tips

Since my brain is slow at getting into gear today, figured I'd do this week's Friend-Making Monday.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: http://www.alltheweigh.com/ so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Weight-Loss Tips

I'm not a good person to ask about this since I'm not in weight loss mode (don't get me wrong, I'd love to lose weight, but I'm just more focused on being healthy).  But this is what I've got in terms of my healthy habits:

Fitness/Exercise Habits
  • Having friends or spouse with whom I work out 6 days per week.  I know they're counting on me to be there.
  • Having a fitness goal I am working toward for most months of the year.  There are occasionally weeks or even a month after meeting a goal (like post-marathon), where I temporarily am just running for fun or something, but I'm most motivated to get in my workouts when I'm working toward something over the course of several months. 
  • Getting in about an hour per day of activity, with maybe one rest day per week.  No excuses for weather, schedule or fatigue usually.  Occasional excuses if I'm really, really sick but even then I usually remind myself that sweating it out might help.  For my hour per day goal, I don't count walking, yoga or stretching time because my heart rate pretty low for most of that. 
  • Including strength training in my activity at least 3 days per week.

Dietary Habits
  • Not eating meat.  While it's possible to be an unhealthy vegetarian, I think it helps to make healthy choices when you immediately rule out all the meat options at a restaurant for example.
  • Eating organic fruits and vegetables almost always.  More costly, but I think much better for my health.  Plus, organic has the bonus of tasting better, making me want more fruits and veggies. 
  • Bringing my own lunch to work.
  • Having Greek yogurt with fruit, honey and/or granola for dessert on the average night where I want dessert.
  • Not snacking after dinner.
  • Not eating out very often. 
  • Not drinking alcohol at home (though I occasionally break this rule, such as when we have guests, or a glass of wine every few weeks maybe)
  • Saying goodbye to fettucini alfredo at restaurants.  Man, I love it but that stuff is bad for you!  I was shocked when I figured out how bad.
  • Adding extra activity to my schedule when I feel like I've been in an unhealthy eating stretch.
  • Not doing my own grocery shopping.  I'm more tempted to buy junk food than my husband is.  Since he shops, we just don't have it in the house.  I make a list with what I want for meals, etc., and he buys it, but there's no impulse buying.  And even if I put Pringles on the list, I don't think he'd buy them for me. 
  • Drinking mostly water all the time.  Some espresso and a fruit/veg/milk smoothie in the morning, but other than that, usually all water, all day.  Sometimes one soda on the weekend, but not much else.
  • Pretty much never eating fast food. 
Lifestyle/Other Habits
  • Weighing myself most days and keeping track of it in writing twice a year (New Year's and my birthday).
  • Not buying a lot of new clothes means I want my existing wardrobe to fit.  It would be hard for me to gradually move to bigger clothes without noticing it.  I mostly just hate shopping for clothes, but a function of that is that I count on what I have to fit me. 
  • Having a supportive family.  Hubby goes to bed early with me so we can both get up early to work out.  When we're visiting our folks, we get to tag along with them to their gyms.  My brothers can be convinced to do some race with me every few years. 
  • Living somewhere that I can work out outside almost every day.  I don't do well with long periods of working out indoors (I tend to quit doing it after a while, a week at Christmas is fine, but a month would turn into a month of slacking), so I'm lucky to live somewhere with good weather most of the year (very warm on summer mornings, and we definitely have some cold mornings in the winter, but it's usually manageable).  And I'm lucky to live in an area that isn't high crime.  I'm sure stuff happens, but I'm not so paranoid that I wouldn't be able to head out my front door anytime between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.  to go for a solo run if I were so inclined.  I'd be a little more nervous between about 10 and 5, but I'd probably still do it if for some reason I wanted or needed to, there's just never much want or need on my part! 

Those are my good habits.  Glad I don't have to list my bad habits!  I think that list would be just as long if not longer...

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Hair Knows...

I wonder if I'm the only one with this experience.

I have a hairdresser that I adore.  I think this is common.  I had a friend who used to live here in Dallas who had a hairdresser she'd gotten attached to in DC.  Fortunately, she used to go back to DC a few times a year, and would always get her hair cut while she was there.

Mine happens to be in Italy.  For several years now, whenever we're in Italy, I get my haircut (same guy who did my hair for our wedding too). 

The issue is that I delay getting a new cut after I'm back in the US for as long as I can.  I last had my hair cut in April when we were in Italy for Easter.  It's always a great cut, and it always grows out nicely.  I think he knows I need that because whenever I get to Italy, I show up with shaggy hair that should have been cut months earlier, but I'd been holding out until we got to Italy.

Well, right now, I am hopefully between trips to Italy for the longest it will ever be in my life.  We were there in April 2011 and I won't be back there until September 2013.  Because I want to combine our big annual trips with marathons for this year and next year, our annual trip is being moved to the fall.  This fall, China, including the Beijing marathon.  Next fall, Germany and Italy, including the Berlin marathon. 

There is just no way I can wait until October 2013 to get my hair cut again. 

Really, there is no way I should have waited as long as I have to get it cut.

It has been looking like it really needs a cut for several months now.  So I gave in and made an appointment for Saturday.

And sure enough, since I made the appointment on Monday, I've had probably the best hair week I've had in months. 

It's like my hair knows it's about to be cut off and it's saying, "please don't make me go, please don't cut me off, I'll be good, I'll be beautiful and shiny and cooperative, please??" 

Sigh.  And I'm considering giving in. 

Not really, but my appointment is at 1 and I just don't think that will work well in my schedule.  I have a 10k race in the morning at 8:30, so I won't even be back home before 10:30 probably.  That leaves me with only 3 yoga options -- noon, 4, and 6.  I don't want to 6 so I can be home for dinner instead.  4 would work, but who wants to get a haircut and then get it all sweaty and nasty at yoga?  So I'd like to go to yoga at noon, shower, and then get my hair cut afterward, but I don't think there are any appointments left later in the afternoon.

So my locks my be spared for another week.  I swear though, it's like my hair knew what was coming. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Spring Marathon Training Plan

Today was my first morning with my new half-marathon training group.  There still might be some changes in the next couple weeks if people move groups, but so far, so good.  But since I'm only doing a half-marathon program, I realized I need to supplement my training in a big way so I'll be ready for a full.

Since I'm doing all this training (except when it rains I think) while carrying 35 pounds, it will be at a slow pace and I'm not going to follow a traditional plan to get ready for a marathon.

Usually for a marathon, I'd want about 4-6 runs at 18 miles or longer.  And I'd want about 7-10 (or more) weeks where my mileage is at 40 miles or higher. 

For this race, I'm planning to go up to 18 miles on one occasion.  Most weeks will be 30ish miles.  And I'm planning to go to 27 miles on 2-3 occasions.  Haha.  Sounds crazy, no?

My bestie here suggested that if I really think this race is going to take me about 8-9 hours to finish (that would put me in the middle of the pack basically), I need to practice being on my feet for 8-9 hours several times.

So my plan is to pick three Saturdays and spend all day each one of them walking around our local lake.  I'm starting next weekend (1-21), and then I'll do another walk 3 weeks later, and a final one 3 weeks after that.

I won't be able to wear my weighted vest for the marathon (instead you have to carry a rucksack or backpack with the 35 pounds), so I'm going to use the walks to practice carrying my race day pack (which I have yet to purchase). 

Each loop of our lake is 9 miles, so I figure if I walk 3 loops, that will be good practice for all that time on my feet.

On the first Saturday (next weekend), I may start with just 2 loops so that I don't overdo it. 

Besides my 3 long walks, I'll also do the half-marathon training runs (2 weekdays and long on the weekend), and I think I'm going to do a practice half-marathon with running and walking in a couple weeks. 

The final element to my training that I want to add is some practice doing trail walking or hiking.  Ugh.  So many of my friends have gotten really into trail running after meeting their Boston goals, but it just hasn't ever appealed to me that much.

First, I like being able to run from home.  For me, I'd have to drive to get to a trail, and in some ways that defeats the purpose.

Second, I'm not very coordinated, and I think I'm likely to fall on trails.  Pretty much everyone I know (or every whose blog I read!) who runs on trails seems to fall pretty regularly.  And I'm a wimp.  I don't like falling.  I've fallen twice on roads.  Once was when a friend was too close behind me and caught the heel of my shoe.  Once was attempting to stop and not paying enough attention to a pothole.  But keep in mind that is falling twice after thousands of miles (and many years) of road running. 

Third, I'm not a big nature person really.  I like city life.  I like looking at people while I run.  I don't mind looking at nature, but I really don't like bugs or wild animals that are particularly threatening.  I can't imagine encountering something like a coyote on a run here (though I'm sure it could happen), I'm actually much more afraid of things like snakes.  Like many runners, I'm nervous of dogs in the city, and they're usually on leashes or behind fences.  I can't imagine encountering an unleashed dog on a trail.  I'd probably have a heart attack in panic, even if it was a completely friendly animal. 

But multiple reviews of this marathon mention a "sand pit" where you're going for miles in deep sand, and the reviewers have recommended more trail practic, so I need to add it. 

I only have a couple other weekend days that aren't full with my day-long walks, or some other commitment (vacation, seminar, etc.), so I guess I need to fill them up with some trails.  I don't even know where to begin, but I know I have lots of friends I can ask. 

I know I should walk the trails while carrying my 35 pounds, but I have a feeling that is going to make me even more unbalanced and injury-prone.  Ugh...  I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into.  I suppose if I skip trails altogether, it wouldn't be the end of the world, I'd probably survive the race, but it just wouldn't be smart.

So I guess in early Feb and mid-March I have a couple free days where I can drive out to walk some trails.

That leaves one big element of training untouched -- hills.  The marathon climbs over 1000 feet in less than 5 miles.  Unfortunately, living in Dallas, there is just no way to prepare for that.  And no way to prepare while we're out of town either since we're not going anywhere hilly.  I guess I will practice running some hill repeats here, but I'm just going to have to wing that.  Count on my strength training to get me through. 

Sometimes the more I think about this race, the less excited I get.  I think I should go back to reading some more books about the Bataan Death March to get inspired -- to remind myself why I want to do this race.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Evening at Home ... Not

Given the storms yesterday morning and my decision to skip my run and do early yoga instead, I was all excited about coming home to actually have dinner with hubby on a weeknight. That pretty much never happens during yoga month. We can have dinner together on Saturdays and Sundays if I make time during the day to go to yoga, but I'm never home before 8:20 or so on weeknights. And he tries to go get ready for bed by 8:30, so it's tough.

As I said, the big downside for me to yoga is that it severely cuts into my time with him.

I like spending time together. I once made a list of the characteristics I wanted in Mr. Right. With a friend's advice, I wrote "not a golfer." Her husband golfed and spent most of his weekends doing that instead of being with her. So since I like hubby, I actually want to spend time with him.

We have a special anniversary coming up this week (1,000 days of marriage!) and I thought it would be nice to surprise him at home tonight by skipping yoga at night by having gone in the morning.


Surprises don't work well for us.

My yoga class goes 6:30 to 8, so I usually leave work by 6:10 at the latest to make it. I figured I'd split my free time tonight. Work later than usual, but still be home earlier than usual.

I planned to leave the office around 7, and I was just a bit later than that. Still would put me home an hour earlier than with class.

So imagine my surprise when I came home to an empty garage!

I gave in and called him to tell him that I was home to surprise him. Silly of me to think he'd be here waiting for me. Turns out he'd also taken the opportunity to work late, and then he went to the grocery store where he decided to eat a solo dinner before getting the stuff on our mid-week list.

Bah. So he didn't even get home until after 8. I had to eat solo, since he'd been eating when I called, and we still barely got to see each other.

Guess that will teach me to attempt a surprise!  Oh well.  At least I got to catch up on half an hour of lo scapolo (The Bachelor). 

This morning we went to boot camp together and tonight the plan is yoga together, so at least I'll physically have eyes on him for a few hours today, though of course there's not really any chance to talk at boot camp and no talking allowed at yoga...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Return to Yoga

So I started back to yoga about 2 weeks ago and figured it was time for an update.

My first class back went surprisingly well. The two times the instructor said my name, it was immediately preceded by "Nice".  That was great.  I was tight in unexpected places.  When we move to the floor, the first exercise involves pulling your knee up to your shoulder.  It used to be one of my favorites, one of the easier postures.  But since my return, it was tougher. M y hamstrings are just so tight.  Anyway, it's finally starting to get easier now after about 2 weeks of almost daily classes.

I think I started class on December 27 or 28.  I missed the class on Thursday of that week as I wrote, because of technical headaches at work.  Then I missed this past Friday because we went to boot camp in the morning and then I worked all day and got ready for our dinner party.  But not bad -- missing about one day per week om average.  That was about what I missed before, though in November I had a class once a week that necessitated missing yoga, and that class doesn't start until later in January, but I'm still averaging the same. 
I'm having the same issues with timing that I had during my November month of yoga -- namely, I'm basically never at home and awake, leaving little time to organize, to relax, and to talk to my husband.

Thus, in some ways today is perfect.  It stormed like crazy here last night.  Enough to wake us both up for a while.  This morning was supposed to be our first group training run for spring marathons and halves.  As a group leader, I was supposed to get to our running store early, at 5:00.  Woke up at 4:30 and I felt like a kid again.

I checked my email on my phone (akin to watching a scrolling list of school districts on the tv) and got the "class canceled" message.  Sadly, just like all those years ago, it made me jump for joy.  That makes no sense because I really like running and I'm ready for this training season to get underway.  But there's just something about seeing any kind of class that I attend being cancelled for weather and I can't help but be excited. 

My first instinct was to go back to bed.  I reset my alarm for 6:45.  That would have been two more hours of sleep!  I got back in bed.  But then my mind was going.  If I got up and got moving, I could go to morning yoga and actually get home in time for dinner tonight!  We could hang out, go to bed at a reasonable hour, I could work a bit later than when I have to go to yoga and get some stuff done.

So I hauled my big butt back out of bed and went to yoga.  My least favorite instructor.  Her name is a color, a shade of blue-green.  Ugh.  Just like Saturday when I came with hubby for his first class and had the only other instructor I don't like.  But the other "least favorite" instructor was so nice to my husband that day, and so friendly afterward, that I've decided I like her.  That left just the blue-green instructor in "least favorite" instructor status.

And while my class this morning was not good when it comes to flexibility (guess I'm really tight in the mornings!) or balance, it was good in that blue-green didn't get under my skin.  I thought she did a great job.  So now there aren't any instructors left that I don't like!

As for yoga in general, I'm enjoying feeling the flexibility, the muscle definition, the craving for healthier foods, the calmness, the focus, but when the month ends, it will also be nice to get back to a regular workout schedule with only one workout per day! Having some free time.

Monday, January 9, 2012

FMM: Getting to Know You

Since it's Monday and I am waiting for a phone call back (and why would I want to start a new project while I wait??), I thought I'd do this week's Friend Making Monday post, just for kicks.  A double post today for no good reason!

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules.  If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: http://www.alltheweigh.com/ so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Getting To Know You

1) What is one of your favorite ways to spend a Saturday?  This past Saturday was perfect -- a 10k race in the morning with hubby and my bestie.  Then lunch with 2 other couples and their kids (not sure kids are included in the ideal Saturday, but they were all relatively well-behaved for most of the time), then home for a nap (probably should have been cleaning, but that's what Sundays are for!), then yoga with hubby at our nearby Bikram studio, then a great dinner and early to bed so I can be well-rested to meet my Sunday running group dark and early.  Though lazy Saturdays where I do none of the above and just watch movies or read are good once in a while too! 

2) List your top three favorite TV shows.  Ugh -- the Bachelor (I hate to say it, and every year I say I won't watch again, but then I do).  Law & Order SVU (though I'm not loving this season, I still watch).  Southland (new season on TNT soon).  Not very exciting.  I don't love TV.  If I'm home alone, I'm likely to watch a Law & Order marathon, or put on movies all day (Lifetime or a regular movie channel) and just leave it. 

3) Would you rather be in pictures or take them? Definitely take them.  I love taking pictures. 

4) Why do you blog?  I like sharing my thoughts and holding myself accountable to whoever may be reading.  It's also a good place for me to vent and to plan as needed.  And it's a fun way to look back on my life and see what has changed and what hasn't.  I was just looking back at last January and remembered how miserably sick I got several times last winter and just reminded my hubby to be glad we hadn't been hit with it this year.  A major difference from last winter's non-stop cold/infection. 

5) Share five websites that you visit regularly.  Facebook.  My local running store's page (for a race schedule and for training schedules).  That may be it other than work-related sites and blogs.  Wow, that's not exciting at all. 

6) If you could have lunch with one person from your Twitter list who would it be?  I'm not a Twitter person, so I'll just pick someone famous and living -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I highly doubt she tweets though. 

7) List a few of your favorite snacks. Popcorn, grapes, apples, pretzels, granola bars, Pringles, wasabi peas.

8 ) Do you have a pet? If so, what kind?  No.  Allergic to dander and to responsibility!  Haha. 

9) Which three material possessions would you struggle to live without?  My car, my phone, my running shoes.  I was going to say my house, but that's probably too broad.  Also in the running were my contact lenses and a sports bra. 

10) What’s your favorite drink?  I'm a water drinker.  Beyond water for non-alcoholic, I like diet root beer.  In terms of alcohol, I guess I'd go with red wine, though it completely depends on my mood and what the drink list looks like.  Just had a lite margarita last week that I loved so much, it turned into several lite margaritas, so it destroyed the "light" factor.

11) Do you enjoy cooking? Very much.  And I like baking too. 

12) Do you have children?  No, see above regarding allergy to responsibility.

13) What are your favorite hobbies? Running, yoga, working out, reading, traveling (and travel planning), jigsaw puzzles, board games. 

14) Would you consider yourself to be shy or outgoing? For me it kind of depends on the day and the circumstances.  Generally I'm pretty outgoing.

15) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?  I guess I'd be more patient.  But maybe my impatience has led me to where I am now in my life and career, and I can't really complain about that.  Oh, I'd also like to make myself faster. 

16) Who is your favorite actor/actress?  Don't really have one.  Matthew McConaughey (sp??? too lazy to look) is cute, but he's made some bad movies.  Guess I would pick Don Cheadle or Marlon Brando. 

17) What’s the coolest thing you’ve done this week? The week just started, but since this question comes on a Monday, I guess it means the coolest thing so far.  Either timing new runners at the track on Sunday morning, or going to a yoga class filled with newbies on Sunday night.  My day Sunday was all about being there to support people in new-to-them fitness endeavors! 

18) Do you live near your family or far from them?  Very close to my husband, but we're both far from our parents, siblings and extended family. 

19) List three of your talents. Proofreading, seeing/arguing the other side, being efficient.

20) What is your greatest attribute? I'm reliable and loyal.  I guess that's two.  So reliable. 

Now it’s your turn to share your answers. You can go back to alltheweigh.com and link up in the comments! Happy Monday!

Best Weekend of the Year?

I hope that title isn't true, but it might be.  Maybe the rest of 2012 will all be downhill now.  Haha, if that's the case, so be it.  The weekend was awesome.

I managed to get a better headcount by going ahead and calling a couple people who hadn't emailed me.  As of mid-afternoon, we were at 14 with 2 no responses, and then by early evening, down to 12 plus the 2 non responses because one woman who'd confirmed was sick.  We realized there was no way we could get 12 adults comfortably around our dining room table, so we had to bring up the kitchen table from the garage and put both leaves in both tables. 

That left us with the dilemma of how to set up the two tables -- I really wanted one long table, but didn't know how that would fit, so I assumed we'd have to have a "kids' table" in the living room.  Ugh.  I really didn't want to split up the group. 

We decided to rearrange our entire living room.  Did I mention that my family believes in the 12 days of Christmas, so our tree stays up through Epiphany?  That meant the second floor was already pretty crowded.  We moved a couch up against the wall (usually the couch is in the middle of the room, splitting it into two rooms essentially).  That let us basically have one long table running almost the length of the room.  We had to angle it a little but there was still enough room to walk around it.

The biggest disaster occurred at about 6:20.  I'd told people to come at 6:30 and hubby and I were WAY behind schedule.  We'd basically set the table and done all the prep chopping, but we were in the process of assembling the eggplant parmesan and the lasagna.

Hubby added mozzarella to the eggplant as I was dividing up the lasagna noodles and toppings.  I put the first layer in the dish and went to the fridge to get the rest of the mozzarella and ... surprise! ... no mozzarella!  I knew for a fact I'd put 1.5 pounds of mozz on the grocery list, and .5 pounds parm, but somehow hubby wasn't paying much attention and reversed the cheeses. 

I wanted to scream!  A bad day to have skipped yoga I guess!  I seriously thought I was going to lose my $hit.  I've told him that grocery shopping needs 100% accuracy when he does it the week of a dinner party.  So 10 minutes before guests were due to arrive, all cooking came to a halt while he went back to the store. 

I was really frustrated.  I think I've mentioned this before.  I have this fantasy about having a dinner party.  I make something like lasagna early in the afternoon, and get the table set, and get everything else set up.  The dishwasher is empty except for maybe one cutting board or something, and the sink is empty too.  I'm sitting on the couch drinking a glass of wine, and we're listening to music and chatting when the doorbell rings as the first guest arrives.  Well, no fantasy coming true Friday night.

The doorbell rang, there was a lasagna with only the very bottom level assembled.  I hadn't set up any appetizer, we didn't have drinks ready, the kitchen was a disaster -- full dishwasher that I'd just started to run, full sink with all that didn't fit in the dishwasher.  Stress!  But like I said, all good friends, so I was a bit less concerned than I usually might be about wanting everything to be perfect. 

Hubby eventually got back from the grocery store.  He was still in his sweats so he basically yelled upstairs hello to everyone, threw the cheese up the stairs at me, and changed clothes while I got back to work on the lasagna. 

But after that, it all came together.  People showed up, mingled, seemed to like our house.  Dinner was great -- everyone seemed to like the two entrees except one person who might not have liked the lasagna.  When we were scraping plates at the end of the night to load the dishwasher, I was so surprised to see the one bit of lasanga that hadn't really been eaten.  We took up plates for everyone at the table and just passed them around b/c the pans were too hot.  So everyone had a roughly equal size of eggplant parm and lasagna.  Usually out of 14 people, I'd assume at least 3 or 4 wouldn't have liked one of the two things.  But no, just the one bit of lasagna remained, which I took as a good sign. 

We had dessert and coffee and people stayed well past midnight.  Then we spent about 30 minutes unloading and reloading the dishwasher, then we decided to leave the rest for the next day.

Continuing our awesome weekend on Saturday morning, we got up to run a 10k.  We were both exhausted, but you gotta do what you gotta do!  It was my first race wearing my weight vest.  Hubby didn't end up finishing because he had an upset stomach.  My race went much better than planned.  My bestie ran with me to keep me company and that alone made it a lot of fun.  Lots of people were asking about the vest, and I ended up being very happy with our overall pace.  I felt pretty good the whole time.  Though when I finally took off the vest and went to get a cup of water, I felt like jumping and dancing, I suddenly felt so light! 

The race had more logistical difficulties than perhaps any race I've ever done (they were trying a new timing system and short-staffed, leading to a double collossal fail), but it didn't bother me too much since I wasn't planning to get any PR anyway with the extra 35 pound vest. 

But the late race start meant we had to hurry home afterward for a quick shower, then we went with our neighbors and two other very good friends and all 3 of the kids to the local Italian club for an Epiphany celebration for the kids -- the Epiphany witch, a big Italian tradition, more important than Santa, came to visit all the kids.  All 3 kids were fairly shy and spent most of the time coloring, but it was still a fun lunch and nice to spend the time with all of them, plus some other friends that we met there. 

After the Epiphany lunch, we came home.  The plan was to undecorate the tree but we opted for a nap instead. 

After a quick nap, we went to yoga.  Hubby's first time.  I was really wondering what he'd think.  He is insanely not flexible.  Like imagine someone who's really not flexible, and then think of someone even less flexible.  The instructor noticed, but couched her comments nicely.  She said something like he should just reach upward since he was "too muscly" to be able to get biceps and ears touching when we had to reach our hands overhead.  That made him blush!  But he stuck it out for the entire class and did a great job.  He tried everything at least once and I was suprised at the end to hear how much he enjoyed it.  Enough that he signed up for an entire month! 

So our schedules will only let us go to yoga about 3-4 times per week together max, and I really think more than once a week is unlikely, but those times will be fun. 

We crashed hard Saturday night and both slept like babies.  He had to work on Sunday, and I had the first morning of our running training program.

I think about 20 people asked me about my vest.  Someone said I should make a sign, and they were right!  People seemed to either tell me I was crazy or to be impressed by the undertaking.  I wish it wasn't so noticeable.  Since my pace is slowing down so much with the vest, I'm running with a lot of beginners.  And I'm well aware how hard it is to train for a marathon or even a half when you're not wearing a weighted vest, I don't want to undermine that.  I am coaching a group again, and I really want to make sure there's not too much focus on the vest and more focus on their great undertaking and eventually the accomplishment. 

I spent the rest of Sunday working and being lazy and watching movies.  I finally watched Bridesmaids, and aside from the Milwaukee connection, I wasn't really that impressed with it.  Sure, parts were funny, but I was expecting so much more from several people who'd really raved about it.  Oh well. 

Then last night was yoga again with 2 more newbies -- my local bestie and her sister.  It was actually the lululemon free class, and it was insanely crowded.  Crazy.  Like an inch between mats and the room full to capacity.  I've been in some very crowded bikram classes before, but this topped the cake.  It was a lot of fun to share the class with them, and I think we'll do it again later this month.

So all-in-all, an amazing weekend.  From 6:45 Friday night to 6:45 Saturday night might be among my favorite 24 period of 2012.  And the 24 hours that followed that were also pretty amazing. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Italian Stereotypes

My resolution about entertaining at home gets underway for the year tonight.  And we are going to have a very full house. 

We don't have a particularly spacious home -- I think it's about 2,000 square feet, but it's spread over 3 levels.  So the first floor is garage, laundry, guest bedroom, guest bathroom and hubby's closet and the entryway.  Second floor is kitchen, pantry, half bath, and then a big open space that is split into living room and dining room (and there's a little porch off the living room).  Third floor is a bigger porch, our room, bathroom, and my closet.

Our dining room table has never had more than 10 people around it.  And we've only done 10 people twice I think -- once for book club, and once last year at Thanksgiving (and then 3 of the people were little kids).  It's cozy, even with both leaves in the table. 

We only have 6 dining room chairs, so we'll have to bring up chairs from the garage that go with the kitchen table that we have stored there. 

I don't have a headcount for tonight, which is really stressing me out. 

Typical Italians, right?!  The main stereotype I have about Italians is a love of food and company (unfortunately, I think the second stereotype that I and many others have is not a positive one).  For tonight's dinner party, we are hosting a bunch of friends from our Italian conversation group from several years ago.  One woman who was in the class has moved to Sweden with her husband (we actually got to go visit them in 2010), and she is back in town for a month around Christmas. 

We thought it would be fun to get the old gang together to visit with her and her husband, and since I'm organizing it and didn't want to ask someone else to host it, it's at our place.  We could have gone out, which is actually what we've done for all our reunions over the last few years, but I really have wanted to have all of these people over for dinner, anyway, so this is the perfect excuse.

What I didn't count on though was that it might be more people than we can easily accommodate.  Our head count is at 10 for sure.  And there are 7 others that haven't responded, but being Italian, I'm guessing they're coming as well.

I need to decide in the next hour if we should go ahead and bring the entire kitchen table up from the garage and set it up in the living room -- that would allow a lot more space, particularly if we add a leaf or two to it. 

If it's just the 10 of us, I'd rather all be at one table.  And if it's 12, I think we could squeeze in.  But if it's 14 or 16, I think we're better off with a second table.

The more I think about it, I don't think we have enough chairs!  We have 6 dining room chairs, and I think we have 6 kitchen chairs.  Guess hubby will be going over to the neighbors' place after lunch and seeing if we can borrow all 4 of their kitchen chairs! 

I guess I'd better set it all up just to be safe.  Wow.  This is going to be a colossal undertaking.  Thankfully they're all good friends so I don't care too much if it's not perfect.  I wanted to do some of this set up last night, but we went out to dinner with one of hubby's co-workers and his wife, and then to see a play with them (Diary of Anne Frank, it was really good). 

So now it all must be done today -- and I have to work today!  And I have to go in to the office because one of my favorite attorneys from Colorado that I retain for all our lawsuits there is going to be in town and we're going to out to lunch with her. 

And I have to cook.  Making a shiitake-zucchini lasagna and eggplant parmesan, and a spinach-artichoke dip to start.  And then other people are bringing another appetizer, a salad and a dessert.  So that at least won't be too daunting.

But I definitely need to stop writing and get busy!! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

102 Steps...

Well, yesterday was my first day on my resolution to take the stairs at work.  And today it really sunk in, to the point where I was counting steps. 

102 steps.  That not really so bad.  I didn't count the place where I go down one curb step and then up one curb step.

I think this might be easier next month, but I'll keep at it.  Next month hopefully I won't have to lug quite as much stuff with me every morning.

Usually I have my lunch and my purse, which are heavy enough.  I need to switch purses soon.  I'm carrying one right now that I got as a gift from my folks.  It's by a company called Big Buddha and it looks like leather but is made out of veggie-friendly materials. 

I tried to find a pic online, but no luck after a minute of searching.  Anyway, I like it a lot, but it is so big that it's really hard to find anything inside of it.  I may switch back to my standby Vera Bradley purse that I love.  I'm not at all a "purse" person.  I mean, I always carry one, but I'm not very fashion-conscious or trendy.  I usually like Coach purses, but my favorite is a little too small and a little too springy to carry right now.  But my Vera Bradley was a gift from my bro and sister-in-law a couple years ago and it's just the right size and it's brown and simple. 

Anyway, right now I'm also carrying my yoga change-of-clothes bag.  Back when I first started my month of yoga in November, I posted a packing list, and I've got it down to a science now.  Little things like remembering a comb to go with the elastic to pull back my hair are a given.  And I leave the bag with my towel in the car, so I only bring the clothes change bag into work (and then I can put my jewelry in it and keep it secure in my trunk). 

But that's still a lot of stuff to carry up 102 flights, especially adding the bulk of a winter coat. 

But so far so good on that resolution!  And I've been integrating 4 Chinese words/phrases into my daily vocabulary -- how are you, where, what, why.  And today I'm going to add "how many". 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Update on the Garmin Woes

Yesterday I wrote about how I was going to have to make the dreaded call to customer service for Garmin, because my watch would tell me it was fully charged, then minutes later have zero battery left. 

It wasn't as painful as I expected!  When I called, after the irrating four or so menus I had to go through to get into the right hold line, they said my anticipated hold time would be 30-35 minutes.

It was actually a bit less!  And since I had already done the software update, the guy (who spoke English well and was nice and helpful!) said I'd have to return my watch and I'd have another one in 6-10 business days from when they receive my old one.

Ugh.  2 weeks is a long time to go without a running watch, especially when I've registered for races this weekend and next weekend. 

But then he told me about the expedited return policy.  Basically, they ship me a new watch TODAY and charge my credit card for the watch, then when they get my old watch back, within a few days, they credit the charge back to my card. 

Score!  So I'm going to swing by my running buddy's UPS store after work tonight on my way to yoga, and ship mine back, and I should have a new one by Friday probably. 

Which means I'll be able to time my first weighted race on Saturday.  I'm doing a 10k and wearing my 35 pound vest.  It will be interesting if nothing else.  I'm going to be out there for a looong time.  Oh well.  Better get used to it! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Garmin Woes

I'm dreading one of the tasks on my "to do" list today -- calling Garmin customer support.  I had always been an old school running watch person, but almost exactly a year ago, I was finally made aware of the importance and benefits of heart rate training.

Since in order to train that way I needed a heart rate monitor, I figured I'd finally suck it up and buy a garmin.

There was a big shipping fiasco (I got a package that wasn't mine, marked with an order number only one off of mine and looking very similar to mine b/c of poor printing), and I eventually got it, though later than planned.

And now I pretty much always run with it.  But lately it's been really acting up.

I'll charge it all night, put it on in the morning and wear it for about 5-30 minutes until I'm ready to start running (and during that time, I just leave it in the regular mode where it shows the time of day).  I'm finally ready to go, head outside and get ready to start it up, and the watch is either completely dead or it gives multiple low battery warnings and then dies.  So I go put it back on the charger, and it immediately says it's 100% charged again.  It makes no sense.

And ugh, I'm going to have to spend how long sorting it out.  I need to do it today because the warranty has to be almost up sometime in the next 2 weeks.  I am just wondering how many minutes it will take...  I'm game for 30 minutes, but I'm worried it is going to be much longer.  I'm trying to be a pessimist and brace myself for the worst.  If it's just a few minutes, I'll be thrilled. 

Oh well, it's a year for me of getting it done.  Not procrastinating, just doing it.  As soon as I get to the office...

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Resolutions

I think I'm ready to commit on the things I'd like to do in 2012 to make it the year that I think it can be (and just in case those Mayans were right, some of this is stuff I've wanted to do for a long time).  Twelve resolutions (plus my off-the-record career and financial ones).  Possibly in order of importance, which is cool.  If I succeed on the first several, I'd consider it a good year. 

1.  Complete my first (and likely last) weighted marathon.  I'm aiming to run the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon on March 25 in New Mexico. 

2.  Travel to one new-to-me country.  The current plan is that the country will be China and this will happen in October, but if things change, I still want to go somewhere new in 2012 -- I need to keep broadening my horizons and experiencing new cultures. 

3.  Stairs at work going up every Tues-Wed-Thurs that I'm in the office and it's not raining.  I am on the fifth floor, and the parking garage adds one more flight.  I'd love to try to do it on Mondays too, but with working from home on Fridays, sometimes I'm really loaded down with my laptop and too much other stuff on Mondays.  So Mondays I'll play it by ear, but Tues-Wed-Thurs, game on.  And if it's raining, then I'll take the stairs from the first floor instead of from the parking garage (I think the stairwell is outside).  But this resolution doesn't go into effect until Jan. 5 (since I need to make sure I know where I'm going and my co-worker to show me isn't back in the office until Jan. 4).

4.  A 10k or shorter PR.  A little more flexible than last year's resolution to get a 5k PR.  I could very easily get an 8k PR, but there aren't tons of 8k races around here, and that wouldn't really be fair since my 8k time is from 2007.  But most of my other PRs in that distance range (5k, 4m, 5m, 10k) will take some real work to beat.  I'd also like an 8 mile and 15k PR, but that's just getting greedy. 

5.  Entertaining at home.  Again.  At least 6 occasions feeding friends with home-cooked food.  At least 3 of those occasions must include people who haven't been part of this resolution last year or the year before.  I think we're going to have two parties -- one next week for some friends who live in Sweden now and are back visiting, and one in April for the anniversary of our rehearsal dinner. 

6.  Yoga.  One month of heated yoga, and then yoga at home once a week minimum or 48 times in the year (not counting the month of yoga in January).  I think it's relaxing and good for me.  It may help me be more patient, more fit, more calm. 

7.  Emptying our magazine rack.  This should be so easy, but I want to actually flip through everything that's in there before throwing it away.  I'm down to two magazine subscriptions in 2012 -- Vegetarian Times (a Christmas gift from my brother and his new wife), and a Texas running one. 

8.  Finish our wedding scrapbook.  We've been married since April 2009, and my memories of the day aren't getting any fresher.  I'd love to make progress on some other photo albums, but the wedding scrapbook is most important to me. 

9.  More quality time with my two female best friends.  One lives in Virginia but I am planning to see her more this year, and I'd like to call more too.  And one lives here in town.  She had a tough year last year and we didn't get to spend as much time together, and I miss her terribly.  Whether we spend the time running, going for ice cream, working on puzzles, watching bad tv, doing yoga, whatever, I just want to spend the hours together. 

10.  Maintaining a list of the books I read this year and reading at least 20 books.  I used to read so much more, and now I just feel exhausted when I fall into bed, but I need to add it in somewhere since I enjoy it.  I'm torn as to whether I should count books that are currently in-progress (I think I'm reading about 3 right now).  I think I will.  An incentive to finish them. 

11.  Learning at least 100 Mandarin Chinese characters.  One of the blogs I enjoy reading, AlmostFearless, had this statistic recently:  Full fluency is 3000 characters, but with 100 characters, you're already 42% fluent.  That would be lovely!  If I could get to 200 characters, I'd be at 55%.  Now I'm no Joseph Needham, and I know it will be tough, but I would think I could learn 100 characters in 10 months.  Maybe.  I hope.  It will be fun to try!  If you don't click on the link, 1500 characters is 94% fluent, so it's really diminishing returns at some point. 

12.  Closet purge continued.  Alter or donate most things that do not fit.  I might try that old trick of turning all my hangers backwards to see what I actually wear, but I think I do wear most of the clothes.  It's just more than I need.  How many black tops does one person need for example?