Monday, July 30, 2012

FMM: Goals and More

I had a really good weekend.  My long run went well and I made it to yoga on Fri, Sat and Sun, so the streak continues.  I didn't do much else -- very lazy.  Some reading, some work on organizing recipes, had our neighbors over for dinner one night.  All in all, just lovely.  I know that starting at the end of August, I will have plans almost every weekend for the rest of the year, so I really want to soak up these lazy weekends while they last! 

Since it's Monday, time for some questions and answers! 

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: 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!

Goals and More

1. Brag about some of your daily, healthy habits.  I work out almost every single day -- every single day if you count 90 minute heated yoga as a workout.  Right now, my pattern waking up at 5 a.m. or earlier 6 days per week to do 3 days a week of running, 3 days a week of cross-training, 1 day of running after cross-training, and then yoga every day.  Since I live in Texas, I drink tons of water to stay hydrated -- I mean tons.  I've tracked water intake several times and I'm often around 300 ounces per day.  I'm also a pretty good eater -- I'm a vegetarian, and we almost never have junk food in the house, and we try not to eat out very often.  I almost never eat fast food (maybe 3-4 times per year).  I always wear my seatbelt.  I get hugs almost every day (only not if one of us is traveling), and I talk to family every day -- those habits are also supposed to promote longevity.  And with the early wake-ups, I go to bed pretty early and usually get a decent amount of sleep.  Definitely think I have a lot of good habits, and for the most part, all of those have been in place for years.  Started being a vegetarian in 01, running in 03, daily hugging in 05, cross-training in 07, clean eating in 08.

2. Do you track your daily food intake? If so, how? No.  I sometimes keep a rough tally in my head when I think I'm taking in too much or not enough.  After a day like yesterday, when I had been running for 17 miles and then went to 90 minutes of hot yoga afterward, I knew I needed about 1500 calories more than if I hadn't run, and I generally want those to be healthy calories rather than junk food.  But sometimes I eat those extra calories on days I don't work out so much and then I try to keep track in my head so I don't eat too much garbage.  If I have a night where I eat cheese fries and beer for dinner at a bar, I think I kind of mentally track that too -- I might pass on birthday cake at the office and then eat a monster salad the next night.  It's all about balance, right?

3. What do you want to change most about your daily routine?  I want to waste less time in the morning at home -- which probably means I shouldn't be writing this!  I think I'd be more efficient if I could get to work more quickly.  Now that I've added yoga into the routine, that's 10.5 hours per week in the studio, plus all the changing clothes, driving there, getting in early to get a spot, showering afterward, etc.  I think it's close to 15-20 hours per week, and I feel like I should eliminate some wasted time in my schedule to accommodate that.  I also would like to be better about packing my lunches in advance and set out my outfits for the week in advance.  I guess I kind of blew it for this week by not getting that done yesterday.  Oops!  Maybe I'll make double lunches this morning.   

4. How often do you exercise? Like I said, 6 days a week if you don't count hot yoga, 7 days a week if you do (I don't really, because my sustained heart rate isn't that high (it's not comparable to running or even to cross-training), but I certainly get sweaty!). 

5. How do you stay on track when you’re on the go?  If I'm in town, I plan ahead -- I always have water with me, and I plan my meals so I don't get stuck at a drive through.  I usually even keep a granola bar in my purse and grab an apple if I'm driving somewhere so I don't have to worry about being stuck in traffic or something.  As for staying on track while on the go out of town, I think the biggest factor is my job change -- picking a job where I don't have to travel as often.  I actually think that's critical to my health.  When traveling for work, I always follow my usual run schedule, and sometimes I'll run instead of cross-training just because it's easy to run anywhere.  I make myself get up early and get it done.  Eating the way I like on the road is harder, but usually I can make it work.  I can make decent choices at restaurants if I'm gone for a while, otherwise, sometimes I'll just eat like crap and figure I'll balance it out when I'm back home. 

6. What’s one excuse you use that prevents you from reaching your goals?  Sometimes I am tempted to sleep in and blow off a workout, but I meet friends to run, so blowing that off is never an option, and I usually cross-train with my husband or other friends, so having that accountability helps.  I think the biggest goal that I'm missing is that I'd like to cut down the amount of processed food I eat -- there are many days I grab a frozen meal to take to work for lunch, and even sometimes at home, we'll have "heat and serve" Indian food for dinner, or I'll make something like a veggie burger. 

7. What scares your most about your journey?  Getting injured.  I've had several good friends deal with major injuries (femoral stress fractures, knee surgery, etc.), but thus far, I've fallen a few times (all this year basically), and I've had some muscle pulls, but I've never been out of commission for more than a couple weeks.  Even when I just take a few weeks off post-marathon, or when we're overseas on a long vacation, I know how hard it is to come back to where I left off.  Fitness is so easily lost, and such a struggle to regain.  Second most scary (after injury) is the idea of never hitting my goals -- doing all the work, trying my best, and still not doing it.  I have one time in my head for the marathon (I'll admit, it's not my first, I've had several goals and met them, but I think this will be my last one and I'll go for it in Berlin in 2013), and one time in my head for the half, and one time in my head for the 5k -- what if I try hard and I'm just not good enough to run those times? 

8. What do you think will change most when you reach your goal? (If you have reached it, what’s different?)  My goal for the longest time was to qualify for the Boston marathon -- hitting that goal made me feel amazing.  I definitely felt more confident, more like a "real" runner, more legit.  What I think helped was that after I qualified, then of course I wanted to run Boston, and I took training very seriously and felt like I improved a lot.  But I think anytime you meet a goal, you have to have another.  I have tons of new goals that are unmet -- weight, body shape, new faster marathon times, eating habits, etc. 

9. What motivates you to reach your goals?  My brother?  Haha.  He and I have competed at running for years.  I'm proud to hold the marathon record (by less than 5 minutes), and he has the 5k record (by 1 second, but he could easily hold it by more).  And we both love beating each other, and our other brothers couldn't even hold a candle to us (though really, they're all in great shape, they're just not regularly running).  But really, I like being comfortable in my own skin -- feeling sexier and happier, feeling like I'm prepared for the worst, feeling like I'm strong and able to handle random situations.  One of the coolest things was at Mardi Gras this year.  My best friend has twins -- I held one of them on my shoulders for ages, while dancing around.  I don't think I could have done that if I didn't work out a lot.  I love being able to do something like climbing the stairs in the Duomo in Florence without feeling like I'm struggling.  I want to hike for hours on the Great Wall when we get to China this fall.  Most of all, I love my life and I want to be around to live it as long as possible! 

10. Share a few of your goals. I’m trying to get through 30 consecutive days of heated yoga right now (so far 5 for 5 days).  I'm going to try to bump my mileage up by adding 1-2 more days of running (probably after cross-training) to my schedule so I can be as strong as possible for the Beijing marathon.  My big goal for this year though is to get through it injury-free so I can do some major speed training beginning in January, and then next year in September hopefully run the marathon of my life in Berlin.  I'm definitely a long-term goals person! 

Now it’s your turn to fill out this week’s questions. Don’t forget to go back to and link up in the comments. Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Glass and the Concert

I mentioned earlier this week that I was so excited to go to a Bon Jovi tribute band concert Tuesday night with one of my best friends in the world. I was excited for good reason -- the night was insanely fun. She was able to leave work on time and went to pick up veggie sandwiches for us. It was an outdoor concert at our local arboretum, and we got a nice spot in the grass.

We ate our dinner, got to talk and laugh for a while before the show started, then they played all of Bon Jovi's greatest hits.

After the concert, we decided to walk around the arboretum to see a special glass exhibit they have right now.

I should apologize for the crappy i-phone pictures, but really, I rarely post regular non-i-phone photos, so it is what it is.

The exhibit is a collection of 32 glass sculptures by Chihuly, including a few specially created for Dallas, placed throughout the arboretum. So in no particular order, here are some pictures of the sculptures and the band.

I think my favorite was the purple reeds with the green. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Olympic hype is heating up big time.  And I'm not feeling as patriotic as maybe I should be. 

For the last few Olympics, I've rooted for the US and Italy above all others, and I'm sure that will be the case again, but at the same time, my favorite part about the Olympics is not an American winning, or even an American competing.  It's more about just stand-out athletic performances.  And particularly for athletes from other countries, I sometimes think they have more of a struggle to overcome to perform at a world-record level. 

So I want to cheer for Usain Bolt.  And I'm peeved that I can't think of other non-American top athletes off the top of my head!  I definitely want to see Meb do well in the marathon, but like at any other marathon where the best of the best are running, I just want to see the struggle, see the fight to win, and see someone tear up with joy at accomplishing his or her dream. 

This is going to be the first Olympics where we've had our new "double dish" set-up, which lets us get some Italian channels.  I wonder what their coverage will be like (if we can even get it here).  And now we also spend a fair amount of time watching English-language Russian and Chinese programming.  Wonder what their coverage will be like, again, if any.  I'm sure I'll mostly watch it on NBC, but hopefully they'll profile some foreign athletes too.  I wish they'd do more in depth things about what their lives are like, their training, etc.  But of course, I wish they'd show more of the actual events too.  Glad it's not my job to figure out the right programming mix!  Anyway, I just want to see people do well, not just American people. 

I'm kind of wishing I hadn't started this yoga challenge right before the Olympics start.  Last night was night one and it felt great to be back, but it's going to be tough. 

I'm considering having a men's Olympic marathon watching party.  That is the one time I might wish we had a bigger and/or better TV.  Hubby and I have always agreed that it's not worth spending money on things like TVs, since we'd rather spend money on things like travel (or save it so we don't have to work until we're really old, but mostly travel!).  But for the very rare occasion, maybe every 4 years or so, that I want to have people over to watch TV, I might slightly and temporarily regret our prioritization...

Anyway, random Thursday morning thoughts for you.  Just not feeling as patriotic as others seem to be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 Reading

Since one of my resolutions was not only to read more, but to keep track of what I read, here's what I've finished so far this year (along with brief thoughts on each):

The Man Who Loved China [The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom], by Simon Winchester. The story of Joseph Needham. Nonfiction, just over 300 pages. I enjoyed it and it made me more excited in some ways about going to China this year, but also made me wish I'd gone right out of high school. It's changing so much, I wish there were a way to visit older China too.

The Drop by Michael Connelly. Fiction in the series about Harry Bosch, an LAPD Detective. I never used to read this series until I started living with my husband and he LOVES this series of books. He convinced me to read the whole series, and now we both read any new release (usually about one per year). If you're looking for a good crime series, I'd recommend you start at the beginning of this one. The Drop was pretty good.

Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill. Misleading to say it's a book club pick, but it was... in September 2011. I bought it then but didn't get into the book. But it was good enough I wanted to finish, it just took a very long time.  Fiction, about 475 pages.  It's slow going, very descriptive, but an insanely interesting theory.  A little girl falls into an abandoned mining well in modern times, and then the story goes back and forth to her and her parents now, and random ancestors.  People from the middle ages, someone in about the third century, the random rapes, loves, births, deaths, brushes with death, lost dreams, chance encounters, etc. that all lead to this girl being born.  And it was fun to see how her parents' ancestors paths crossed, and makes the world seem small overall.  One example was how a distant relative of the girl's mother went on an archeology trip and found the bones of a descendent of the girl's father, but of course no one knew of that connection.  Hard to say if I'd recommend this book or not, given how slow it was, but overall, I really liked it. 

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why, by Amanda Ripley. Non-fiction and quite interesting. It definitely makes you think about preparing for a disaster. Not just buying water to have at home, but reading the plane information card on every flight, practicing actual evacuation, etc. She focused a lot on crises where some people survived and some didn't, and looking at human factors that contribute to that. Among the disasters discussed were Katrina, 9-11, various other plane crashes, a supper club fire, shootings like Columbine, tsunami, and crowd crushes of people (like at the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, where it has happened multiple times, including one incident that killed over 300 people in 2006). Very, very interesting read.

Retribution: the Battle for Japan 1944-1945 by Max Hastings.  Non-fiction, about 650 pages (so you'd better love WWII!).  Lots of MacArthur bashing, but overall, a very balanced view of the end of the war in the Pacific. Most of the major battles aren't covered in depth because they're so well-covered in so many other books, but overall, a very comprehensive book. Interestingly, as with his similar book addressing the end of the war in Europe, Armaggedon, he works hard to include research and accounts both from the Allies and the Axis powers, there are lots of accounts by Japanese soldiers included in this book, as well as Japanese war theory. But the book uses the word desultory a lot. Like more than in any other book. So if that will drive you crazy, skip this book.  But otherwise, I'd highly, highly recommend it, particulary if you feel like you already have read a lot of Pacific Theater books. 

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King. A book club selection. Fictional book about Sherlock Holmes taking on his apprentice Mary Russell and their first cases together.  Quick read, fairly enjoyable, not my typical choice, and not a series I'll pick up to finish. 

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Non-fiction, 12 months of resolutions designed to boost her happiness. Author notably already had good life. Spouse with potential health issue on the horizon but well-off, no abuse, healthy kids, etc. Reminded me a little in bad ways of Eat, Pray, Love (oh my life is so hard, poor me, let's be more self-centered rather than thinking about any real problems), but in many ways, I loved it. Reminded me of several habits I should work on, particularly in terms of home organization, marital communication, and expanding horizons. Possibly resulted in some life changes (for the better) and one I'd recommend to anyone.  A book club choice.

The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace. Another book club selection. A nonfiction book about the mystery surrounding the world's most expensive bottle of wine. It was sold in 1985 at an auction at Christie's, purportedly owned by Thomas Jefferson, a 1787 Lafite Bordeaux. I learned a lot about wine in general, and rare old wines in particular, so quite interesting in that regard. The book was just under 300 pages, not counting end notes, so a pretty quick read. Enjoyable.

Drop Dead Healthy, by A.J. Jacobs. Book club selection. About 350 pages, not counting appendices.  The author spends about 2 years focusing on improving his health in various ways -- from things like wearing noise-canceling headphones, to "running" his errands, to trying different diets.  I enjoyed the book and it was a VERY quick read -- it helped that many of the chapters were short, and they were each on a discrete topic.  It seemed I chuckled out loud at a minimum of once per chapter.  I wish I'd taken some notes on some of the habits that I wanted to implement.  This may be a book I skim again when I get it back (loaned out to a fellow book club member first, then going to my bro next).

Orange is the New Black:  My Year in a Women's Prison, by Piper Kerman.  MY book club selection.  Non-fiction, about 300 pages.  About a woman who knows and hangs with some drug dealers, then carries a suitcase with cash through customs without declaring it, cleans up her life and seems exactly like someone we could all be friends with, and then 10 years later, is arrested for her role in that drug trade conspiracy.  She decides to plead out (offering testimony against others), and is sentenced to 15 months in Danbury.  A bit stereotypical and condescending at times -- and in some ways it just rings a little false/artificial, hard to explain.  But at the same time, if I were a professional author, sentenced to time in jail, I'd want to look at it like an anthropologist too -- to try to keep that distance to get through the time. 

Lost on Planet China:  The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid, by J. Martin Troost.  [Note, there's also the same book with an alternate title, Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation.]  Hilarious non-fiction, about 400 pages, about his months exploring China as a foreigner.  It's braced me for a lot regarding the food, the shopping, the scams, the confusion, the lack of English, the lack of lines, Chinese culture, etc.  And it was just so funny.  I'm planning to check out some other titles by the same author -- basically the highest praise I can give an author.

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly.  Fiction, but not in the Harry Bosch series I referenced above.  Quite a page-turner for me.  I was very tempted to blow off many important things (like work and sleep) to finish the book, and I think it is a testament to my patience and restraint that I am attempting to strengthen through things like yoga to note that it took me a couple weeks to finish this book.  About a reporter investigating a murder.  Don't want to say much more so I don't spoil it.  Several overlap with characters who also appear in the Bosch books.

If I had to go in order of preference, it would be something like this:

Lost on Planet China
The Happiness Project
The Drop

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I've been looking forward to tonight for a few months now. On the schedule is an outdoor concert with one of my best friends in the world.  We're going to see a Bon Jovi tribute band at the local botanical garden, which is on the lake where we run pretty frequently.  We haven't quite nailed down the plan for dinner, but we may pick up sandwiches or something since we can bring in a picnic basket.

And while a Bon Jovi tribute band concert with my bestie would be fun no matter what, I'm looking at this as my last hurrah of summer. 

I am going back to Bikram yoga tomorrow I believe.  I want to try to do another 30 day challenge, which I should be able to finish right before I leave town to run in the Hood to Coast relay.  But that will mean not so many more fun evening activities, particularly on Mon-Thurs. 

Ah, bring it! 

This morning had 8 miles on the schedule with 4 at marathon pace.  I didn't think I'd be able to do it, and I kept mentally coming up with plans to cut it short or run a little slower, but it was over before I knew it.  It helped that I think it was a bit cooler this morning and significantly less humid than it was on Sunday.  I'm hoping a month of heated yoga will make even the hottest runs feel a bit easier. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

FMM: Seven

My weekend went really well.  Last night was book club at our house and it was nice.  I wasn't wild about all of the recipes I tried but oh well.  My next-door neighbor came over after lunch on Sunday and spent the afternoon cooking with me, which made it much more fun. 

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: 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!

Friend Makin’ Mondays

What is your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?  Being lazy!  My ideal Sunday afternoon would begin after I get home from lunch/brunch with husband or running friends after my long Sunday run.  Then I'd love to be able to sit around the house and watch Lifetime or something, napping, getting organized for Monday, and making an exciting home-made Sunday night dinner. 

What is your favorite color?  Blue I guess.  I've never had a very strong color preference.  I also like red and purple. 

Have you ever been to Europe?  Many, many times.  I went for the first time in high school, lived there when I studied abroad in college, and then went back about 5-10 times before I met my husband in 2005.  Now we go together to Italy about every other year, but he goes more often.   We got engaged and then married in Italy and someday we want to move there -- maybe after my husband retires and I'll maybe be able to figure out a way to work remotely.  I feel like I've been to most countries in Europe, so I thought I'd look that up and see if I'm right.   Here's a list of all countries in Europe, alphabetically (and whether I've been there):


Albania -- no

Andorra -- no

Armenia -- no

Austria -- yes

Azerbaijan -- no


Belarus -- no

Belgium -- yes

Bosnia & Herzegovina -- yes, with hubby but pre-blog

Bulgaria -- no


Croatia -- yes

Cyprus -- no

Czech Republic -- yes


Denmark -- yes


Estonia -- no


Finland -- yes

France -- yes (last year's trip is on the blog in May 2011)


Georgia -- no

Germany -- yes (and planning to go again in 2013)

Greece -- yes solo and yes on our honeymoon


Hungary -- yes (and I highly recommend Malev if you're looking for a Hungarian airline to fly)


Iceland -- yes

Ireland -- no

Italy -- yes!! 


Kosovo -- no


Latvia -- no

Liechtenstein -- no (maybe I can do this one in 2013 with Germany and Italy?)

Lithuania -- no

Luxembourg -- yes


Macedonia -- no

Malta -- yes, with hubby but pre-blog

Moldova -- no

Monaco -- yes

Montenegro -- no


The Netherlands -- yes

Norway -- no


Poland -- yes

Portugal -- no


Romania -- no

Russia -- yes (and discussed at length on the blog in April 2010)


San Marino -- yes

Serbia -- yes

Slovakia -- no

Slovenia -- yes

Spain -- yes

Sweden -- yes (on the blog in April 2010)

Switzerland -- yes


Turkey -- yes, for our honeymoon


Ukraine -- no (big regret, invited to a wedding there but didin't go, should have)

United Kingdom -- yes (just England and Scotland)


Vatican City (Holy See) -- yes

So that means I've been to 28 countries in Europe and haven't been to 22.  Guess that proves me wrong, I haven't seen as much as I'd thought.  Well, I've got Western Europe covered for sure!  Definitely want to see those other 22. 

Do you wear glasses or contacts?  Yes.  Today, glasses, but if I work out in the morning, I wear contacts for that, and then contacts the rest of the day.  And I work out at least six days a week, so I'm almost always wearing contacts.  Today is a glasses day though -- I slept in since I worked out Sat and Sun, and since I was up late for book club last night. 

How often do you brush your teeth?  Once a day always, sometimes (not very often) again at night.  My husband brushes at the very least twice a day, usually more.  So it's kind of ironic that I have really good teeth (and also they've always been almost perfectly straight), and his teeth give him all kinds of trouble. 

Share a guilty pleasure.  Lazy days while my husband works.  He usually works on Sundays, so this happens frequently.  I love coming home to an empty house after a long run (it's the last time I want to hug someone, or carry on a big conversation).  I get to make my own breakfast and then shower at my leisure (depending how sweaty I am).  Then I love a day of bad tv, catching up on reading, taking naps, etc.  Most Sundays though, in addition to being lazy, I do our laundry and clean up the house a bit. 

What are you most proud of accomplishing this week?  I guess this question means last week -- it's a toss-up between something that was way past due at work and I finally finished and submitted, and yesterday's long run.  Yesterday was the first 16 mile training run and I was nervous about it (very unlike me).  I actually predicted to hubby on Saturday night that it was going to be my absolute worst training run of the season.  I was worried because it was significantly warmer than it has been for our last few long runs, it was going to be the furthest I'd run since March, and I was a little worried I hadn't gotten in enough water on Friday and Saturday.  But against those odds, it went really well.  Started off a little slow, but by mile 3, we were on cruise control.  Hitting every mile within a 10-second range.  Insanely steady.  I slowed down more over the last mile, but overall, it went very well (and the slow down was only about 30 seconds). 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. Don’t forget to link up in the comments. Until then, Happy Monday!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekend Plans

I don't think I usually post on Friday mornings.  My Friday routine is to wake up at 5:00, be out the door by 5:18, at boot camp at 5:30.  Work out for an hour, then come home.  If hubby worked out with me at camp, I beg him to make me breakfast.  But since he's usually off on Fridays, sometimes he'll sleep in a little and go to boot camp at 7 instead.  That's what he did today, so I was on my own for breakfast.  I made my usual smoothie and English muffin with cheese.

Then on any other Friday, I eat my breakfast standing at the kitchen counter, starting my "work from home" day.  With my job, I have a ton of cases that I manage, some that are in litigation, where we've hired an attorney in that state to defend, some are just events that we're monitoring and so far no one wants any money, and then the third type is where there's an attorney involved and I'm dealing directly with that attorney, but there's no lawsuit (at least not yet).  Well, in theory, I am supposed to touch every single active case every 30 days, and touch the inactive ones at least every 60-90 days.  I'm more comfortable touching every case every 30 days, so I use a calendar to set alerts for about a quarter of the cases each Friday. 

So that's my Friday morning routine -- I start plowing through those checks while I munch on breakfast.  Then I tackle emails, then bills from defense counsel, then sometimes random other projects.  And that fills up my day.

But today I was planning to watch the news because Gov. Christie from NJ was supposed to be on the Today Show, and I really wanted to watch that -- not sure if it will be a softball interview or if it will touch on the topics I'm interested in.  I couldn't care less about politics in general, so there's a good chance his entire interview will be irrelevant to me.  But of course there was that sad shooting in Colorado, so now I'm not sure he'll even be interviewed today.  Either way, I want to watch the news instead of starting to work. 

So figured I'd write about weekend plans:

Today I'm taking a late lunch and going to watch my godson in a performance for his preschool.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to a special shopping event thing at my fave local running store.

Tomorrow afternoon we're going to see hubby's godson and family, and maybe doing a little swimming in their pool.

Tomorrow night will be pre-long-run routine -- laying out all my stuff, making pasta with red sauce and garlic bread, going to bed early.

Sunday is my long run, 16 miles, which will hopefully be smooth sailing.

Then Sunday my neighbor is coming over and we'll spend the day cooking. 

Sunday night is book club at my house!  I don't have a headcount since I got busy and didn't have time to make an evite.  I'm guessing at least 4 people coming, maybe as many as 8-10.  I chose a book called "Orange Is the New Black."  I'm hoping maybe this weekend, between the cooking, cleaning, food prep, I'll have time to finish up my list of books/short reviews on what I read during the first half of the year, and I'll include this one.

The menu includes several things I saw on Pinterest:

Raspberry beer lemonade to drink

To start:
Creamy avocado dip (made with greek yogurt)
Cannellini garlic dip
Avocado salsa cream cheese puffs
Zucchini tots

Chickpea smash over mixed greens
Smashed potatoes
Zucchini spaghetti with creamy lemon chive dressing

Rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream

Should be a fun weekend, and all those should be fairly tasty as leftovers. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hills Motivation

This morning was hill repeats.  We had 6-7 on the schedule, so we did 6, and then ran our cool-down, which meant going up another big hill to start it, so technically we got 7 hills. 

It felt ugly.  For hill repeats, all we do is 2 minutes of running up hill, then u-turn, and jog down.  Last week we had rolling hills, so this was the first day of hill repeats. 

I told myself to just get it done, ugly, out of breath, slow, whatever, just get it done. 

Then I came home to eat breakfast, read blogs and get ready for work and I saw this little bit of motivation on facebook:

Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress ... is progress. 

Hills are perhaps the most concrete way that I see improvement in running.  Sure I'll see it in my marathon finish times, at least ideally, but that's a couple times a year.  Hopefully the next time I do hill repeats, I'll do 7-9 of them, and instead of feeling like I'm dying after number 4, I'll feel like I'm dying after number 6. 

Slow progress.  It may just become my theme for the year...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Double Surprise

Last night we were meeting friends for a surprise happy hour. A male friend who is an awesome social organizer (kind of rare) planned a surprise happy hour for his girlfriend's birthday. She had a big pool party on Saturday (that we did not attend, I was busy that day, hubby was working), so I think having a surprise happy hour on her actual birthday was unexpected. But he blew it a little bit when he got to the bar, and the waitress asked if they were meeting people and he said yes, so she had advance notice by about 20 seconds.

But the cool thing was that she was surprised and grinning ear to ear. And then she surprised us -- they'd gotten engaged about an hour earlier!

It was funny because they've been dating for a couple years now, but every time we've talked about it, he would talk about how when they first started dating she'd said something about not needing to get engaged for five years, and he had apparently seized on that. So she figured they'd get engaged in about 2.5 more years. Happy surprise for her. They're a wonderful match, so it was a happy night of celebrating.

I made horrible food choices (fries and grilled cheese) and I drank, but at least I kept it to a single beer. My whole plan of eating out less this month and working on eating cleaner was completely derailed but it's a new day I suppose. I should try to go to yoga tonight but my shoulder still hurts. I went to boot camp and survived though, so I guess it's worth a shot.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back to the Hills

Particularly since I don't know exactly when my marathon will be (a fact with which I have reluctantly made peace), it seems odd to be entering the strength phase of marathon training. 

Most (good) marathon programs have 5 phases -- first you do base building (varying in length, but basically several weeks of easy running in gradually increasing or steady mileage).  Then you move to strength, where I am now.  That is 1.5-2 months of developing strength -- your distance increases weekly and you do some faster or stronger running (adding some practice at marathon pace, some short distance pick-ups, and ... perhaps my least favorite ... some rolling hills and hill repeats).  Phase 3 is short, just about one month, and that's the sharpening phase.  It's where you'll do a lot more faster running -- lots of days with some race pace, and lots of days of tempo pace.  You don't want to do the sharpening phase for too long, or you will not be at your absolute peak performance on race day.  The fourth phase is the taper -- where you hit your absolute longest run and then spend 2-3 weeks of running reduced mileage.  Keeping the quality, drastically cutting the quantity, again, aiming to have you at your peak on race day.  Phase 5 is mistakenly skipped by many runners, but it's the recovery phase.  When recovery is well-planned, rather than depleting you, your race experience serves to further add to your strength.  Recovery phase includes MILES of walking, which is probably why many runners blow it off -- thinking if you're not running, you may as well just sit on the couch and it won't make a big difference.  But a planned recovery not only speeds healing and builds strength, it gets you back to running sooner, whether that's your goal or not.

One of the craziest things I did was running 3 marathons in 3 months (how I qualified for Marathon Maniacs).  The only way to do something like that without getting hurt is to have a good recovery plan. 

Anyway, very long-winded way of saying that within the last week, I have moved from the base-building phase and into the strength phase.  I'm just picking Oct. 14 as the "most likely" date for the Beijing marathon, and I am choosing to ignore one website claiming the marathon is Oct. 21.  But moving to the next phase of training, unfortunately for me, meant hill running.  Ugh.  My heart rate was insane.  I felt like death.  We have a route that is about 3 miles with 3 pretty major hills.  Well, major for Dallas, I need to add that qualifier.  And there are also 2 baby hills on it.  The route starts with the 2 baby hills.  By the time I was done with the second baby one, trying desperately to catch my breath for the 60 or so seconds of running before you begin the first real hill, I told my running buddy that I was a little worried my heart was going to explode.  I have no idea why it was so tough for me.  It's not like I ever run on a treadmill or something else that is flat.  Maybe it just would have been a tough day no matter way I ran, but it was a tough start to hills.  I really didn't think I'd be able to do the entire route -- 2 loops of the 3 miles, for a total of 6 hills.  Somehow I survived, but yikes.  I have a lot of work to do! 

I know I'll get there, or at least I always have before.  I know hills always feel crazy hard to me at the beginning, and it gets easier, but oh, maybe this will be the one year it doesn't.  The one year I really do collapse or give up.  I suppose I shall have to keep going to see.  At least my shoulder doesn't hurt when I run..

Monday, July 16, 2012

FMM: Finish the Sentence

When I posted about my double run yesterday, I left out one detail that I hoped was irrelevant.  But I woke up this morning and it was not irrelevant.  Unfortunately, I can't say I survived the double run unscathed.  For the third time this year, during my second run of the day yesterday, I fell.  Ugh.  I seriously have been running for about a decade and up until this year, I had fallen exactly twice and neither time was my fault (once the person behind me tripped and fell into me, knocking me down, very minor, and once, the person behind me stepped on my heel and my shoe fell off and I stumbled, also very minor).  But this year, I'm just off-kilter.  Anyway, I was hoping it was no big deal, but I woke up today in pain.  My shoulder took the brunt of the fall -- and since I was wearing a singlet, there is a lot of road rash and I think it is going to bruise like crazy.  But I got right back up and kept running.  A friend was a couple steps behind me and so that helped.  And several people around me asked if I was okay. 

Now it’s time for FMM. 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: 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!

Finish the Sentence

I like… my job, which is much better than liking the paycheck, or liking the hours, I like it all.

I don’t like… being tired or cold. 

I am ... an attorney.

I love… my family and friends and I try hard not to use the word "love" to describe how I feel about products or things or even experiences.

I dream of… moving to Italy with my husband after he retires and being allowed to continue at my current job working remotely and having a colleague cover hearings, trials, settlement conferences and mediations in my place. 

I wonder… what I will spend my time doing at work today -- days seem to rarely go as planned. 

I know… who I am going to vote for in the fall. 

I went… to yoga twice this weekend but couldn't go a third time because I was sore from my fall. 

I have… to remember to do a couple personal things at work today (set up my auto-fill prescription by mail, print Pinterest recipes that I'm going to make this weekend for book club, and pay for a new session of boot camp).

I think… my finger that had a bunch of torn ligaments from when I fell in March is finally, finally, finally starting to get better. 

I plan… to spend most of the month of October in China!

I regret… participating in being very mean to someone in junior high.

I do… want to see a lot of the world before I die. 

I drink… water more than anything else, and I drink tons of water in the summer -- like over 300 oz. many days; totally abnormal but my doctor's read on all the tests is that there's nothing wrong with me... hmmm...

I wish… I could plow through a vast majority of my personal and work to-do lists in a single day, not really possible, but I can dream.

I am… hosting about a dozen women at our house for dinner on this coming Sunday night.

I am not… sure how I will have everything ready for dinner that night, I need to be very productive this week, cleaning, prepping food in advance, setting the table, etc. 

I need… to be more disciplined about studying Chinese every day, rather than just on the weekends. 

I hope… I can hit my marathon goal time at the Berlin Marathon in 2013 -- and then I will hopefully not try to PR again, I'll just run them for fun. 

I want… to have a staycation.  Although of course I guess I could, it would just mean not using my vacation time to go to China, but clearly I'd rather do that.  But having an extra week to just stay home would be nice. 

I sometimes… think I'd like to train for and be an Ironman.  Even though I hate to swim and I don't really bike.  The more I hear about it, the more intriguing and challenging it sounds.

I always… check my pulse after I sneeze.  Habit since college when my roommie and I heard that your heart skips a beat when you sneeze.  We always check to make sure it restarts. 

I can… take a step to make today more productive by hurrying through my routine and getting out the door a bit earlier.

I cannot… remember what I wore to work two weeks ago Tuesday.  Not that it matters, but I have no idea. 

I will… have to rebandage my knee and shoulder after I shower in about half an hour.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to go back to and link up in the comments. Happy Monday, Friends!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Double Run!

I had such a fun morning today -- I did my first double run day of the season in a most unusual way.  Usually when training gets underway, I'll try to double up on runs about once a week.  Sometimes I'll have a 3-workout day -- boot camp, followed by a run home, followed by an evening run.  But that's pretty rare (though I should start doing it more often). 

Well, today I did my double in a weird way -- two runs in a row. 

I had my group run this morning, scheduled 9 miles with 5 of them at race pace.  Given that we're just starting the strength phase of training, it felt tough.  I'm not yet used to running at marathon pace.  Marathon pace is kind of odd -- if you run shorter distances and then build up to long ones, race pace will feel slow -- and your long run pace will feel really slow.  But if you get into the habit of running at your long run pace, and you have been in that mode for some time, race pace is about a minute per mile faster, and that gets to feel really hard.  Well, unfortunately, given my spring marathon plan (running slow while carrying weight), I have gotten quite accustomed to slow, easy running.  My long run pace even felt a bit fast, considering how slow I ran in the spring.  Well, race pace now feels really fast.  So to run 3 miles easy, 5 miles at race pace, and 1 mile easy, I felt like it had been a tough morning.

But instead of heading out to breakfast with friends or going home and loading up on my usual refuel breakfast, one of my favorite running friends and I got dropped off at the start of a big local race, and then we proceeded to run it.  Only a 5k and we didn't run hard.  But given what we'd just finished doing, it was tough! 

We stayed after the race to drink beer and watch our friends who were doing the 15k cross the finish line more than half an hour behind us.  Then we decided to hitch a ride with a friend back to our cars where we'd left them before our first run of the day. 

That only made for just over 12 miles in the morning, and considering I ran 15 last week, it's a little misleading to count it as a double, but I'm doing it. 

I need to get back to doing double workouts more often this summer.  It's not as hot here this summer as it was last year, but the air is still not great in the early evening -- that will be good practice for Beijing!  Plus, double workouts will keep me from going out as often as I did in June.

I am going to finish up my current yoga pass this week, then I might take a couple days off from yoga, then I'm going to take the plunge.  I'm going to do a 30 day Bikram challenge again.  I want to finish it up right before I go out of town at the end of August for Hood to Coast.  Then, depending on how it goes, and whether my office moves on schedule (and if so, if I start my running commute), I may do another 30 days challenge for basically the month of September.  As long as I finish up before we fly to China on October 10, it should work out.  And the heat and bendiness from Bikram should also help with my marathon.  I may skip one night of yoga per week to do the social run with friends, and then I'll try to go during the day on Fri/Sat/Sun, so hopefully that will keep it from completely taking over my life again. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Licking the Knife

Here's an awkward story. Imagine someone to whom you are not related but is in a position of superiority to you and with whom you must get along. Like say your boss. Or your mother-in-law. Or a state official. Or a regional director of a major company that you're interviewing with. I won't say which. And this person knows you well. Knows you love desserts, especially baked goods. Especially carrot cake, but only if it's made without nuts.  Yes, this person knows you so well that he or she knows you love carrot cake, but only nut-free carrot cake.  So this person makes a nut-free carrot cake especially for a dinner for you. You know, an official state dinner at which you are representing your country. For years, no matter how full you have been, you've always indulged in a dessert this person made for you.  You've even joked recently with this person about how, no matter how full you are, there's always room in your stomach for a good dessert.  And beyond that, it's rare to have a state dinner in your honor and you wouldn't want to offend your host.

But this year you learn something alarming.

Someone you'd trust with your life (you know, like your long-time personal bodyguard, your bestest friend in the whole world, your spouse, your mother, your loyal dog who talks, whoever, you guess) told you something you wish you could unhear.  This person said that during the making of the nut-free carrot cake, your boss (or whomever I may be referring to) was observed (first-hand, by the most trusted person) to have been licking the knife while frosting the cake. You learn this hours before the dinner.

What do you do????

Eat the cake assuming he or she has done this to all prior cakes that you've eaten and it hasn't killed you yet? Feign a stomach illness or being full to avoid eating the cake? Try to just eat the cake and hope your plate of remaining frosting will go unnoticed?

Aye, awkward.  I went with the first option -- it's probably happened before and it won't kill me...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Resolution Mid-Year Check In

Way back in January, I spent several days stewing about my 2012 resolutions.  Now that the year is half-over, I figure it is high time to check in on how I'm doing. 

Perhaps the most interesting thing about my resolutions this year is that I attempted to prioritize them, with the most important coming first. 

Anyway, I will attempt to use a separate color to include my current update. 

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.  DONE!  Although, I'm not sure you'd know it from reading the blog.  I never finished my race report.  Oops.  I still need to do that, primarily for anyone who may be interested in running that race in the future.  Running a marathon while carrying a 40 pound backpack was not easy.  The training and even the return to unweighted running were both painful and SLOW.  But doing this race in particular made it all worthwhile.  Getting to meet the Death March survivors and hear their stories was an experience I will never forget.  And I performed better than I ever could have imagined in the marathon.  Utterly incredible experience. 

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. IN PROGRESS.  This one is on the books.  Tickets to and from China have been purchased, and the trip will be in October.  Although, on further consideration, I'm not entirely certain this will count.  Because I was in Hong Kong for a while on vacation in 2001, and it was already part of China then, so China may not really be a new-to-me country.  Either way, the resolution was intended to get me to explore someplace utterly unfamiliar and foreign (and maybe even a little scary or at least well outside my comfort zone).  Our trip should definitely meet those objectives.   

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).  IN PROGRESS.  The resolution went into effect on Jan. 4, a day earlier than planned, and I am actually rocking this one.  I even take the stairs most Mondays.  Thus far, I think I've missed the stairs on about 5 Mondays and about 5-6 other times (I completely forgot on Ash Wednesday for no reason, once I was in a major hurry, and once (or twice?) I decided the resolution applied only to my first time coming into the office on a given day and didn't apply if I left to run an errand or something, and during the end of June during our audit week it was so hot and I didn't want any sweat on my clothes, just in case).  Even on days that it's been raining, I've taken the elevator to 1, and then walked up the rest of the way.  I've learned that many flights of stairs while wearing wedges is substantially more difficult than I would have imagined.  But the future of this resolution is in jeopardy.  Our office will move to the 9th floor of a new building in the fall.  I'm not sure I'm ready for that, but I'd like to give it a try.  But I would expect I'll be invoking my "Monday pass" pretty much every week.     

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.  FAILURE TO DATE.  I got a 10 mile PR, but that was cheating -- it was my first 10 miler.  I've run a couple 10ks, but they were while wearing my weight vest.  I've also run a 5k, but it was a week before my weighted marathon so I wasn't going all out, and I wasn't in shape to beat it either.  I am considering taking the easy way out -- there are 2 8k races of which I am aware.  One was right around the 4th of July, but we were out of town, and the other one is on Dec. 29 -- that would get me in right under the wire.  But I really need to make a go at some fall races for a legit, non-8k, attempt.  Maybe I could go hard at the 10k I have set for Sept. 15?   

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. IN PROGRESS.  We're exactly halfway there.  And two of the occasions were with people new to our dinner parties.  I've got a few dates in mind for a few more parties, but I need to work on who we should invite.  I love this resolution -- I love doing it, and I love that the resolution reminds me to do it, because it could easily be something I didn't otherwise push myself to do. 

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. NEAR FAILURE.  I did the month of heated yoga in January.  And then I didn't do anything really, at home or otherwise, for a few months.  Now I've been trying a new studio about once a week or so (actually, probably slightly less than that).  I bought 25 sessions, so that will get me halfway through the resolution.  And I am planning on going back to heated yoga, probably in late July or early August.  When I do that, I'll attempt to go nearly daily, and that will get me to a total of over 80 yoga classes total for the year.  But really, that wasn't the heart of the resolution -- the resolution was balance, to do it regularly, including at home when there wasn't a convenient class.  I will still finish my 25 classes and go back to Bikram for at least a month, but when I hit the Bikram breaking point (basically where my husband gets mega-pissed he has barely seen me awake for more than 30 minutes total in the last X weeks), I need to make sure I focus on doing this. 

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.  IN PROGRESS, but barely.  I've cleared out a few, but I need to make a ton more progress. 

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. IN PROGRESS.  I completed about half of what remained, and I brainstormed a bit for the half that is still undone, but I need to spend a couple more weekends working on it.  I really need to finish this one. 

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. IN PROGRESS.  I'm doing better but not great on calling the one in Virginia.  I'm doing well on the one who is local -- we've mostly been going to yoga and doing things with her family (like our roadtrip to the Blueberry Festival, and spending Memorial Day weekend at her parents' house).  We've got more fun things planned, but glad I looked back at this resolution -- it's spurring me to make a phone call and get some more on the calendar! 

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. IN PROGRESS.  I have been keeping a running list.  I may have to publish the list to date soon.  A couple books in progress that I'd like to wrap up before doing that.  But I'm on pace. 

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! 1500 characters is 94% fluent, so it's really diminishing returns at some point. IN PROGRESS, but barely.  I think I'm giving up on literacy but I have been working on speaking a little.  It's hard, but if I can say some very basic things, I think it will help.  I'm hoping to work with our neighbor's relative and do a little trade -- I help her with English, she helps me with Chinese.  I need to be more disciplined about this.  My favorite book is Chinese in Ten Minutes a Day, but I tend to do an hour on the weekend instead of a daily 10 minutes, and that does not work as well.  It's too much to remember.  Either way, I have about a dozen characters so far. 

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?  IN PROGRESS, but barely.  I turned the hangers backward, but it just showed me that I do wear a lot of what I own.  But it's still too much.  I need to work on this one a lot. 

So that's where things stand as of today! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

FMM: Summertime

We're back in Dallas, safe and sound!  Lovely 5 days with the in-laws but no real break from the Dallas heat.  Oh well.  Ready for a "normal" week at work, hopefully getting my head above water, some yoga, lots of Chinese study.  Should be wonderful!

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: 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!


1. What is your favorite thing about Summer?  When I lived everywhere I've lived besides Texas, I'd say the weather, but now I live somewhere with pretty great weather almost all year.  So I'd say it's the full calendar.  Seems like so many people plan fun social events.  And I also love not wondering what to wear to work-out -- I love not having to check the weather or think.  But I do hate how cold the office buildings are -- wish I could wear something sleeveless all summer and be comfortable indoors. 
2. What is your favorite outdoor activity?  Well, I love running, and I do it all summer long (all year really), but it's not ideal in the summer.  I'd say my favorite summer outdoor activity is hanging out at the pool, preferably with a beer and a book and a friend or two.  I don't do it nearly enough. 
3. If you had to choose, would you prefer to be too hot or too cold?  Too hot!  I get cold very easily and I hate it.  I love being warm, even too warm. 
4. Does your appetite increase or decrease during warmer months? Does it stay the same? I don’t think it changes much.  I do like eating cold foods more -- I love big salads, cereal, etc., and I'm much less likely to cook.  If I eat something warm, it's been microwaved. 
5. What is your favorite seasonal Summer fruit? Strawberries (followed by peaches, followed by watermelon). 
6. Would you prefer to spend a hot summer day at the mall or at a swimming pool? Pool.  I pretty much hate the mall year-round.

7. Are you more likely to tan or sunburn? I try very hard to do neither, but usually seems to be some of each.  If I'm not out too long, I'll tan, any amount of time and I burn. 
8. How does your routine change when Summer begins? No real change except I tend to plan more evening activities. 
9. What is the temperature outside where you are today? Supposed to hit 93 -- a nice break from the 100s we've had for the last couple weeks, and where we usually are this time of year. 
10. What is your favorite Summer holiday? I think the only summer holiday is the Fourth (I guess maybe Memorial Day or Labor Day count??  Flag Day anyone?), so by default, I'd say the Fourth.  My birthday is in the summer, but not really a holiday unfortunately.

Now it’s your turn. Don’t forget to post the answers on your own blog, then come back and link up in the comments! Happy Monday, Friends!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Breakfast with the In-Laws

I laughed the other morning when I ate breakfast at their house.  True to my mother-in-law's typical concern for the comfort of others, she made sure they had plenty of breakfast cereal on hand for our visit.  Very nice.  I always drink smoothies at home, but that's way too much to make at their house.  So we usually eat cereal (which hubby eats at home anyway), and we're big breakfast eaters, so we eat vast quantities of cereal. 

The last couple mornings, I've just grabbed a bagel and ate it while I walked to the cafe where I worked on Thurs and Fri, and Sat I had a sandwich because I went for my long run as soon as I got up. 

Today was my first breakfast in their house -- 4 different boxes of cereal to choose from.  Sweet.  I pull them out to see what I want, raisin clusters, honey clusters, etc.  All varieties of Fiber One.  It's almost like there is no other brand of cereal in Pennsylvania... 

Well, just another little reminder it will be nice to get home and back to our routine! 

We have had a great time visiting them, but sleeping on a fouton, with a noisy window unit running full speed, having to repeat 90% of what you say at least 3 times (but actually, they're both scheduled to get hearing aids later this month), the Fox News blaring alarming news at very high volume, yep, all just reminders that it will be nice to get back home... 

I wish they'd come visit us so we get all the positives of time with the in-laws, and all the positives of being in our own home! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fourth Festivities

We had a lovely time celebrating the Fourth. Thought I'd share a few pictures (though out of order, since I don't know how to add pics from my phone and keep them in chronological order).

I left work early on the third to work from home in the afternoon -- but in between work at the office and work at home, I went to a yoga class, which was so nice.

Then we had keys to hubby's co-worker's apartment (one of the suburbs here with the best fireworks show does their show on the third). Exactly what you'd expect from an older recently-divorced bachelor. I laughed out loud when I opened his fridge. Sharing photos of the fridge, the freezer and the pantry. We were trying to figure out what he ate -- we brought our own food and had dinner at his place, and it wasn't until I opened the trash can to throw away something that I saw the Taco Bell bag, a pizza box, etc. Anyway, after dinner at his place, we went upstairs to the rooftop pool. We were joking that we felt like we were at an MTV pool party. It was funny to see all these kids just out of college (or in college probably in some cases) partying. There was a DJ, a pool, and tons of alcohol. And an awesome view of the fireworks. After the fireworks, we laid around on a lounge chair talking, playing with our phones, listening to the music, and watching the kids, until we got tired. Then we went back down to the apartment and napped for a while on the couch, waiting for traffic to subside.

On the Fourth, I was exhausted but decided to go to boot camp anyway. We'd gotten home around 1:30 a.m., and I got up at 5, but I figured I wouldn't be working out much in Pennsylvania, so better to get it in. And really, an extra hour of sleep wasn't going to remedy the sleep deficiency.

After boot camp, I got dressed and finished packing pretty fast, and then we went to the airport for our flight at 9 to Pittsburgh. Hubby and I both had middle seats, one row apart. I boarded first b/c we were on American, so I sat in my seat and waited for people in his row to show up. First the woman with the window seat came, and I asked if she'd switch with me. She said no, she really wanted to look out the window. I said okay, and really, I completely understood not wanting to swap a window seat for a middle seat. Then the lady on his aisle showed up, and I asked her to switch and she said yes. So hubby and I sat together. The funniest thing -- the woman in the window seat kept the shade closed until about the last 30 seconds of the flight. Hahahaha. Lies! All lies! Like I said, I understood not wanting a middle seat, but why did she have to come up with the whole sham about wanting the view?

Anyway, in Pittsburgh we had lunch at the in-laws' house, then went to hubby's cousin's house for a big pool party and meal. It was a lot of fun, but I felt a little guilty for not bringing anything to contribute to the meal. Oh, and there was like nothing vegetarian. They made some tuna steaks on the grill (along with bbq chicken and hot dogs) for hubby and one of his brothers who aren't big meat eaters, but nothing for the lone vegetarian. There was plenty to eat though, and I made do. Salad, fruit, corn on the cob, dessert, and a hot dog bun filled with pickles and onions. No complaints. All the time with his family was nice. Two of his brothers were there with their wives, plus his parents, one of his nephews and his wife and their kids, and then his aunt, one of her daughters (whose house it was), plus her husband, a few of her kids, some of their spouses and/or friends. We got to sit around talking, swimming, eating, and drinking. Lovely day!

Then we went with one of hubby's brothers and his wife to watch local fireworks near hubby's parents' house. Surprisingly good show!

Now I work for two days remotely while hubby gets to hang out with his folks and relax. Thursday from a cafe, Friday from hubby's aunt's house.

The scene from the rooftoop on the Third, plane doing flyover loop:

Fireworks in Texas on the Third:

More rooftop festivities on the Third (don't know any of these people...):

Hubby's co-worker's fridge.  No, not joking:

And the freezer view:

And the pantry:  (seriously, how does he survive??)

In Pennsylvania on the Fourth, random people in hubby's family and some of their friends:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dallas on the Bachelorette!

So I'm writing this on Tuesday morning but I won't post it until Thursday or so just because I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Well, not really a surprise because we knew last week that the Bachelorette would be coming to Dallas.  One of the last 4 guys lives here.

And it was awesome to see!  The lake where they were hanging out was White Rock lake, where I run about once a week. 

It's probably my favorite running spot in Dallas.  To do a loop of the lake is about 9.3 miles, but there are a few ways to make it a little longer or shorter (there's a dam you can run across, or a path; a pedestrian bridge or the road; around or over a hill).  I run there most weeks at least once.  It's only about 3-4 miles from my house (not sure, I actually never run there from the house). 

It was just so cool to see it on tv.  He said that he lives a few minutes away, in our general direction.  But then Sean and Emily go to meet his parents, who live out in the burbs and he tries to tell her he still lives at home.  Thankfully, it's a joke, but a kind of lame one.  Unfortunately, they didn't show where he lives.  Hubby and I were both kind of curious. Would be so interesting if they end up together (I like him, but I don't think it's likely) and moved here. 

So anyway, if you watch the Bachelorette, you got to see where I run all the time! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

More China Fun

I continue to stalk the Beijing Marathon's websites (English and Chinese).  There is a countdown calculator that appears to be counting down the days until Oct. 14.  But of course still no actual date announcement, and nothing about registration.

I got kind of excited when I saw this on the Chinese site last week:


So I emailed my friend in Shanghai to see what it said, and all that excitement vanished...

We are in preparation of Beijing 2012 Marathon Game, detailed information on registration will be posted on our website and mini-blog (which is something like twitter) one week before the game.  Please pay close attention and thank you for your support.

Well, it makes me glad that we went ahead and bought plane tickets already.  My level of anxiety is going down.  If the marathon doesn't work out, so be it.  I can always run in San Antonio, even though that won't be fun.  And hopefully it will still work out to run Beijing -- it will just be something I register for the week before.

The funny thing is that registering for a marathon is always a big guessing game.  If you register early, it's usually cheaper and sometimes it's the only way to get in to some of the big ones that sell out.  But then there's always the risk that you don't know you'll be able to run X months down the road -- possible injuries, work commitments, possible training derailments, whatever.

But now, with Beijing, there's no risk of wasting the money!  I mean sure, plane tickets to and from China were expensive, but we wanted to go anyway, and we ended up picking the dates we wanted, rather than waiting until the marathon date was set.  But now, if something happens so that I can't run, at least I won't have lost money (and doubtless plenty of headaches trying to navigate the Chinese registration process). 

Monday, July 2, 2012

FMM: Quick Questions

My day didn't go as planned yesterday.  Got in my long run (14 miles), then breakfast with a bunch of friends and a nap, but then some chaos at work erupted and I spent most of the day on the computer and phone dealing with it.  So much for packing, cleaning, reading, getting anything on the list done.  Oh well! 

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: 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: Quick Questions

1. What are your plans for Independence Day?
Flying to Pittsburgh in the morning for 5 days with the in-laws.  Think we'll spend the afternoon at hubby's cousin's house for pool and picnic time, and hopefully there will be a fireworks show that we catch. 
2. What is the last thing interesting thing you drank?
Umm, I guess my breakfast smoothie (spinach, soy milk, protein powder, and frozen strawberries, blueberries and pineapple).  And I had some really watered down Gatorade yesterday.  My drinks have been pretty lackluster! 
3. Share one of your favorite quotes.
“Eat clean, train dirty."  "Don't wish for it, work for it."  "Try and fail, but don't fail to try."  I'm full of them right now -- all motivated from boot camp this morning! 

4. Name someone or something that makes you smile. 
Thinking about our wedding day. 
5. What will you/did you eat for lunch today? 
I made a whole wheat tortilla wrap with spinach and marinated artichokes, and I'll add half an avocado to it before eating.  And a small bag of grapes (would much prefer a big bag, but rationing to make the supply last until we leave for vacation). 
6. What’s the last movie that you watched and enjoyed? 
In the Land of Blood and Honey, about the war in Bosnia -- there is one very graphic rape scene that was disturbing, but it was a well-done movie about the war and does an interesting job of portraying the odd dynamics of the war.  Pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a movie directed by Angelina Jolie -- and that's a good thing!  I've seen a few other movies in the last couple weeks, but didn't enjoy them much. 
7. Share something sweet and unexpected that someone did for you recently. 
At work, I was on the phone with someone and happened to hear that she'd heard a very positive review of my performance.  I joked, saying something like, you should put that in writing.  And then Friday, I got a forward from the VP that I report to, saying great work, and fowarding her email.  Sure enough, she'd written a long email to him saying that she's always been happy with my work, but that hearing it from this client was especially good, and explaining why that person's happiness was important to retaining this important business and how it impacted the bottom line.  Totally unnecessary for her to take the extra time to send that email and make me look good.  Very nice.  I definitely try to do that when I work with someone and know his or her boss -- I'll often send a thank you note to the employee and copy the boss, and occasionally I'll email the boss and say how much time and effort the employee saved the boss, helped me, helped defend the case, whatever.  But this is a good reminder that I need to keep doing that! 
8. If you could spend ten days on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
I'm going to choose Tibet and Western China.  As we're planning our trip for October, even though we'll be in China for nearly 3 weeks, it's just not long enough to see all of the country.  And I realize that even though I'm 36, there's a good chance that this is going to be my one and only trip to explore mainland China.  That area would likely have great hiking, interesting food, and such a different culture.  And it's probably not in the low 100s every stinking day...  I bet lots of people choose beaches for this question, that just sounds so unappealing to me right now.  I just want something cool...
9. What are you currently reading?
I'm in the middle of Orange is the New Black, and I also just started The Scarecrow last night (my attempt to read some fiction).  Oh, and I'm reading Ursula Under (more fiction), but it's very slow going -- I'm at over 6 months and it's not a long book! 
10. Share at least one thing that you’re looking forward to this week. 
Playing dominoes with my mother-in-law!  While eating what I always eat at their house -- a sandwich on sourdough with provolone and marinated artichokes (she gets all flustered about what to feed a vegetarian, and I made this sandwich the first time I visited, and I love it!). 
Now it’s your turn to answer the questions on your blog. Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments at! Happy Monday!