Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Captain America

I was going through notes on my phone - things that I've written down to remember for later, songs I want to get, books I want to read, quotes I want to remember, recipes, etc - and I found a quote that I told myself I would blog about later.

Later is NOW.

As a back story, Holland and I were driving around DC one afternoon, reminiscing about trips that we've taken. We went back to one of our first trips here in DC when we went down to see Mark run his marathon in NYC. (See post here.) On the way back from NYC, we stopped in Philadelphia to get a quick run down of the history. We were taking a tour of Independence Hall. Here's what I wrote from my initial recap:

"At one point, she was telling us about the birth of our Nation and she goes, "And THIS was the day that America was born," and then she got REALLY quiet. I think she was trying to let it all sink in. Holland took this silence as something else. He thought she was waiting for our response, so what does he do? He goes, "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" That's right. My husband cheered for the birth of America. Our tour guide was surprised at the outcry, but I think she appreciated it. We sure did."


As Holland and I were talking about this moment, Holland gave me a golden quote:

"The REAL question is why was I the only one cheering? Does no one love America?"
 and then:
 "Apparently, there was only one patriot in that room. Oh wait, two. Me and the lady telling the story."

Okay, Captain America, okay.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Frumpagrumpus

Listen, you guys. I'm going to be honest - which I try to do as much as possible which often leads to me not saying anything so as to not lie.

I digress.

I've kind of been a grump lately. And I have my reasons. Trust me. I have a lot of complaints. Let's just start with this week.


  • I had a dentist appointment. Blech.
  • My dumb smart phone drove me halfway around the city today trying to get to our softball.
  • Not one, but TWO softball games were rained out this week.
  • On that note, after my dumb smart phone drove me halfway around the city and I got to my softball game, I hit one (a pop-up, of course. Sigh.) and then the game was called due to rain.
  • Our AC was broken for most of the week. One night, it was hotter in the house than it was outside. 
  • The week has been DRAGGING so slowly.
And that's not even counting how sick I am of H traveling for work. Listen. (Listen, Linda, honey, listen... Have you seen this video?) I think that spousal travel goes in waves. The first couple weeks, you're like "Yeah, I'm awesome. I don't need a man. I can be a bachelorette. I'm rocking this. I can do whatever I want." And then that first giant spider crawls out from who knows where it had been hiding when the nominated spider-killer in the house is gone and you're done. You know? But really, it's not about the spiders. The first few weeks - easy. And then you just get kind of sick of it. And I'm pretty sure that after you're sick of it for a little bit, you just kind of get used to it and put on your big girl panties. But right now? I am SICK of it. And I'm sick of being responsible for everything. And cleaning. OMG. I have considered becoming a hoarder because I just don't want to clean anymore. Is that wrong? Because if it is, I don't want to be right.

Anyway, I complain about all of this only to say that I know I shouldn't be complaining. I should stop being a frumpagrump. I have a good life. We're part of the DINK (double income, no kids, I just learned) community which means we have A LOT of freedom. We were this close to jetting off to Vegas this weekend (oh - that's another negative - no Vegas!). We're considering taking a series of mini-road trips in September over the weekend. And we can do that. That's pretty awesome.

I have an awesome apartment. I have good friends. I have a great husband who is HOT (I know because I was staring at pictures of him yesterday). Not only that, he is so supportive, not only in his job making the big bucks, but of the goals I want to pursue. 

My life is awesome. Seriously. And I am grateful. But sometimes, I just struggle.


I struggle to write things like this. I have a hard time knowing where the line is between being honest and being too negative. Is being negative too honest? But at the same time, I don't want to portray this image that I've always got it together or that I'm always happy (HA. Fat chance of that thanks to THIS phenomenon).

Anyway, hats off to the close of this week (soon!) and to the beginning of a new one, with hopefully a better attitude.

Friday, June 20, 2014

STRAINER!!!!!!!!!! SLIPPERY SLOPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! COTTON MOUTH!!!!!!

You might be wondering what all these exclamations have in common.

Well, they were all phrases that our 4-person raft used to denote a possibly (but likely not) dangerous situation while we were rafting down the Shenandoah River this last weekend.

Not my picture but this is pretty much how dangerous it was.

We could not have asked for a more perfect day to spend on the lazy river.

We left our friend's house in a couple different carpools around 9 am last Saturday to drive the couple hours to the rafting place.

When we got down to the Shenandoah area, we sunscreened up and went to watch our safety video.

This is where our first safety word came from. And apparently, only our boat was paying attention because no one could understand why we were yelling STRAINER!!!!!!!!! and what it had to do with rafting.

For your reference, a strainer is formed when an object blocks the passage of larger objects but allows water to continue to flow. The force of the water can pin an object or human against the strainer and then pile up, pushing it down under water. They can be formed by trees, bushes, etc. For saftey purposes, I should tell you that if you're going to wards a strainer, you should swim AWAY from the strainer to the main part of the river, but if you can't, you should swim towards it and climb on top of it. Or, if there are no strainers and you're on a highly peaceful river, you can just yell STRAINER!!!!!!!!! randomly whenever you feel like it might fit the situation.

Anyway, back to the river. When we got down to our starting point, we divided ourselves up into 5 or 6 different rafts. Holland and I and another couple picked Lil Blue or Lil Sebastian, as Holland and I referred to it when we remembered to call it anything at all.

Overall, the river was pretty calm. In fact, our second safety word was created when we were at a point in the river that was so slow that if we stopped paddling, we went backwards (due to the slight breeze). My friend, Rebecca had slid out of her seat. Initially, she had yelled "Man overboard!" but since she technically was still in the boat (though incapacitated), we created a secondary term - SLIPPERY SLOPE! meant to be used whenever someone slid out of their seat.


There was a point in the river, our guide said, that would fork. We were to take the left side of the fork because the right side was too shallow and our rafts would get stuck. Unfortunately, half of our rafts weren't paying enough attention to WHERE the fork in the river would be so when we came to this fork in the river, we decided it was NOT the fork our guide had warned us about, so we went anyway.

This is almost what the right fork looked like.
As you can imagine, we got stuck several times and had to jump out of the boat and pull ourselves out. It was a lovely fork, nonetheless.

We used SLIPPERY SLOPE!! in jest for a lot of the trip, but when we reached the Compton Rapids (what I had been calling COTTON MOUTH! [our third safety phrase] for the majority of the trip; perhaps, due to my fear of water snakes), both Holland and Zach fell slipped out of their seats (but still remained in the boat). Laughing, I yelled SLIPPERY SLOPE!! In fear for our boys' safety, Rebecca purposely slipped out of her seat and into the fetal position on the floor of our raft. Let's just say that I fear for our safety if we ever choose to encounter REAL white water rapids (though, I think we just might one day).

After we left the Cotton Mouth/Compton rapids, we listened to the sweet sounds of "Don't Stop Believing" from the boom box owned by whoever was camping alongside the river. In the spirit of rafting and camping and believing, our group of 25(ish) belted out the song to the enjoyment of our riverbank friends. I'm sure they were sad to see us go. We were, after all, very in tune with the song.

I don't remember where on the river this was - either before or after the rapids, there is a rope swing. To get to the rope swing, you have to climb a slippery muddy bank to get to a slippery tree trunk that you climb up to get high enough to swing out into the river. I declined as I am not very graceful in normal circumstances, but a lot of our group partook. Holland went a couple times. His first swing over the river, he almost forgot to let go of the rope. Luckily, catastrophe was avoided (though we did have at least one half-doctor with us, so I think maybe we would have made it?).






To top off a perfect day on the river, we stopped at a BBQ place on the way home. Sometimes, BBQ just feels SO RIGHT. And I'm not sure anything else would have topped that meal after a day in the sun - except for maybe the ice cream stand that made homemade blizzards outside of the BBQ place...

Shenandoah - I hope we meet again. Ice cream stand - doubly so.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

LOLs

Maybe you're having a rough day. Maybe you're a little bummed out. Maybe your Hulu account won't work on your TV (not that it's happening to me...).

To help cheer you up, here are five things that make me LOL (or at least chuckle).

This llama.



This first pitch:

http://mlb.si.com/2014/05/27/watch-50-cents-first-pitch-at-citi-field-goes-astray-very-very-astray/

This baby goat:


This one time Jimmy Fallon lip synced with Emma Stone



Kevin Bacon:


And, for good measure, a bonus e-card. Because I do what I want. And it's my blog. And it made me happy.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to Run a Half Marathon (When You're Not a Runner)

I should clarify before I go into any other thoughts on this matter. When I say "How to Run a Half Marathon," I don't mean how to run a half marathon with a record-setting time or how to run a half marathon extremely well. I just mean how to run it without walking, with no time-goals.

Scenes from a run
That's how I ran mine, at least. My only goal was to do the half marathon without walking. I had no preconceived notions that I would do it quickly or that I would complete it under a certain time. It being my first half marathon (possibly last? Though only time will tell.) and me being a non-runner, I wanted a goal that was attainable for me. And this might not be the same goal that you had, but it worked for me. And I rocked it. :)

So from a non-expert's fingers to your eyes, here's how to train for and run a half marathon.

STEP ONE: Start small.

You need to have some sort of a running base in order to even begin training for a half-marathon. Of all the half marathon training plans I looked at, most - if not all - had you starting out at 3 miles several times a week.

First 5K
 If I were you (and I was at one point) I would start with the goal of running a 5K. A 5K is 3.1 miles and totally attainable in 8 short weeks. My favorite way to train for a 5K is the C25K program (aka Couch to 5K).

Re-used picture from an old blog, but still makes me giggle

This plan is ideal for the non-runner. Each workout only lasts 20-30 minutes. It starts you out at a very basic level (walk 90 seconds, run 60 seconds, repeat). and moves up workout-by-workout.

Pros:
Starts you out easy
Low time commitment
Builds up your stamina week by week

Cons:
Not everyone is at a couch level

Personally, I skipped ahead in my C25K program, but it's okay if you don't (and they recommend that you don't). In any case, do what's best for you.

Scenes from a run
 I would also recommend signing up for a 5K race. Having a date set on the calendar to work towards was important for me to stick with it and continue training, especially on days when I really wasn't feeling it (and this holds true as you up your mileage too!).

STEP TWO: Go bigger.

I didn't want to jump right from a 5K to a half marathon, so I started looking around for a 10K to run. It's double the distance (if it wasn't already obvious). I think that there are two major benefits for jumping from a 5K to a 10K. For one, it's a great confidence booster. Once you finish your 10K, you're halfway to your goal of a half. Secondly, the C25K program has a sister - the C210K program.

First 10K
I admit that I didn't train as much for this race as I should have. The second 3 miles were kind of rough for me. This actually proved beneficial because it pushed me to train harder for my half. I didn't want to be miserably complaining for the last few miles of the 'big race.'

STEP THREE: Find a training plan

Once you've finished your 10K, start planning ahead for your half. Research the training plans - trust me, there are a lot out there.

Scenes from a run
 The one I chose was found here. An important part of training (one that I probably could have done better in) is cross training. You'll notice on the training plan that I had one day of cross training. Cross training could be biking, elliptical, swimming, etc. I also tried to add in weight lifting to 2 of the days of the week.

STEP THREE B: Find Friends

I don't have a lot to say about this except that it's A LOT more fun to run and train with friends. It boosts your motivation way way up to have someone struggling with you and pushing you.

STEP FOUR: Preparation

4A. I hate to say it, because it's kind of annoying, but shoes are kind of important. The shoes I ended up going with (and liked quite a lot after the initial wearing them

in period) were the Brooks Pure Flow 2. I can't recommend shoes to you because all feet are different, but I will say that it's probably worth the effort to find a shoe that fits your feet and your running if you plan on running longer distances. The support is a game changer.

4B. Fuel. First of all, water consumption is so important. Especially if it's warm outside (but even if it's not!). Not just the day of or right after, but throughout the week. This is especially helpful if it gets your bladder used to so much water so you don't have to stop your run. I'm just sayin'.

Scenes from a run
 Second, food. Now, I read a lot on this matter when I was in my running prime. Most things I read said that you should eat a certain number of hours before your run. The idea is that you'll eat something, have time to digest, and then have enough energy while you're on your run to keep on keepin' on. The thing is, that never worked for me. My favorite time to run was in the morning. I lost a lot of my motivation the later in the day it got, especially for my longer runs on the weekends. If I wanted to eat and then run, it meant that I would have to be running later in the day/morning. If I wanted to run early in the morning, I would have to get up in the middle of the night to eat and then go back to sleep. Maybe I just didn't try it enough to find the right balance. I don't know. I guess my point is - find what works for you. Also, I should note that eating the right type of food is also important (see articles here and here).

4C. Bathrooms. This is actually something that I would prefer to not talk about, but the facts of life are that it's an important thing to take into account. I am not going to go into detail, but I will say a few things. Use the restroom before a long run. If you are worried, plan a route that includes a restroom along the way. And that's all I'll say.

STEP FIVE: Mental Game

Let's be honest. Sometimes, running is not your ideal activity. Sometimes, you just don't feel like running. Sometimes, you just need to sleep in a little bit longer. Sometimes, you get out there, run a mile, and just don't have the mental capacity to go any further. Sometimes, you get 2 miles into your run, have to pause for 10 minutes to give yourself a pep talk, and then continue on. Sometimes, it's raining. Sometimes, it's too hot. Sometimes... and the list goes on.

You can't beat yourself up about not going as far as you planned. You have to trust your body to know when you need a little break. This isn't to say that you should be taking breaks from your training plan on a weekly basis, but every once and a while - give yourself a break.

Sometimes, you rock your run. Even in the snow.
STEP SIX: "Race" Day

There are a ton of articles out there, so don't just take it from me. Carb loading the night before. I honestly don't even remember if I did this. But I've heard that it's important. Since I don't remember the details, I would definitely recommend looking this up and doing some research on your own.

Sleep. You're going to be getting up early on race day, so get a ton of sleep the night before. I woke up at 3:50 (if I'm remembering correctly) in the morning to eat and get ready for the day. I ended up getting to the race around 6 in the morning (for a race that started at 7). It ended up being too early for me, but it was nice to get the lay of the land and listen to people's excitement.

Race Day
 Eat whatever they give you along the way. I had brought a gel pack to eat mid-race, but they had provided so much stuff along the race path that I didn't end up needing my gel pack. I don't know that all races have this, but we had fruit along the way, gel blocks, water, etc. Don't be afraid to stop and grab something to give you some extra energy. Hitting a wall along your run is not fun and you want to have as much energy as possible to finish up.

One final thing that I would say is run how you've been training. Don't try to wear new clothes or new shoes. Use what works. On that same vein, if you've been training with music, keep with the music. If you've been running with friends, keep it up.

Anyway, I think that's about all I had to write. I probably should have done this sooner after my race because that's when it was fresh in my mind (in fact, I spent a 10 mile run thinking about this exact blog post before the race). Please don't assume that what I did is always the right way. I think running is fairly individualized, so it might take a little bit of time to figure out what works for your running style and for your lifestyle.