Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 Holiday

Welcome to the family, Garfield!
Manwich is a pro at this...
Merry Christmas from Sharona, Garfield, and Manwich!

We hope your holiday season is filled with family, friends, food, and cats in Santa hats!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Culinary adventure time!

One of the fun things about Purdue is the chance to experience fun things about different cultures thanks to my International friends. While saris are pretty and learning how to say 'hello' in six different languages is fun, I really enjoy the food.

The Canadian had been talking up poutine for a bit. Apparently, this combination of thick fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds is supposed to be Canada's gift to the world's taste buds? All the pictures I saw online didn't make it look awesome, but hey, I'm up for an adventure.

So Tuesday night, I cashed in my bowling bet victory and Mr. Canadian made poutine. Fries were from scratch (only one minor grease fire), gravy was from an envelope, and the cheese curds were (accidentally) garlic-flavored. [Minor aside re: cheese curds - what are they, exactly? The package had an explanation on it, which I didn't read, but it makes me a little nervous when food has to explain what it is...]

Aside from being hella salty, it was...decent? I don't know how to describe it, really. I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, I like fries, and brown gravy is usually pretty good. Jury was out on cheese curds (garlic wasn't helping their case), but the overall combination was interesting (but in the good sort of way).

If I'm ever up in Canada, I'll give it another go. Maybe I'll appreciate it more if I get hit in the head with a hockey puck a time or two :)

For those of you playing along at home:
1.) What is your favorite non-American country?
2.) Most memorable international travel destination (or most desired!)?
3.) Favorite thing about Canada!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Confession time

I'm sure this will end up being a regular blog feature (once I get back to a regular blogging schedule...) because, honestly, everyone can admit to stuff like this. I'm not talking about Deep Dark Secrets but those little things that you sit there and wonder, "Huh, does this make me a terrible person/awful engineer/hypocritical feminist/slacker/etc?".

Glamour has a fun little section in their magazines each month called "Hey, It's OK..." that I really like. It's just fun stuff that probably more of us stress out about than you'd realize. Only once have I seen something that I actually do listed under the "It's NOT OK..." and I got all bummed till I realized I was reading a magazine from 2013 (I'm moving, ok, and purging in the process) and pfft on you, Glamour, I'm still ok with it.

So, anyhoo, here we go!

  • I can't stand crop tops. Especially in December. YOUR POOR STOMACH. It is neither warm enough nor sunny enough to show off your middle. And I think they look dumb. And everyone says it's an 80's comeback which makes me feel old because I was BORN in the 80's.
  • People who shorten words. Like hubby. Or totes. Or natch. (Preggers or preggo are probably the worst.) Seriously? Just use the whole word, especially if you're speaking. Your thumbs don't have to work overtime to get your mouth to work correctly, do they? (And yes, I realize that I am guilty of this as well. Do I smell a New Year's Resolution?)
  • I am lazy about eye makeup. I usually take off however much mascara comes off when I take my contacts out. Eye shadow usually doesn't make it on my face because, ugh, it's so much work to make it actually look gooooood. (Not really. But kinda sorta.)
  • I have Feelings about Leo. Like, he's adorable in Titanic but a legit good actor in his recent movies. I can want my DiCaprio cake and eat it too...
  • Some days, I say more words to Mannie than I do to a fellow human being. Mannie isn't judgey, he doesn't interrupt or ask dumb questions, and he's never given me bad advice.
  • I'm a female engineer, but I really just can't get on board with girl-specific Legos, lots of STEMspiration methods, or people who tell me that as a professional/career woman, I can have it all. I call shenanigans on all of this...
  • I'm really getting into Game of Thrones, but gah! The boobs! The blood! I think I'd rather read the books, but the show is just so pretty.
  • I refuse to use the Starbucks names for sizes. They're small, medium, and large(r than my stomach capacity). You know what I mean when I say 'small'. Just make it. Please. And to my friends: don't give me the stink eye when I use my middle name instead. They never spell my first name correctly, so by saying I'm 'Liz' or 'Beth', I'm doing everyone a favor. Really.

For those of you playing along at home:
1. What are some of your little quirky pet peeves?
2. How do you eat M&M's: ROYGBIV order, or all willy-nilly?
3. What are you most looking forward to about Christmas?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Final fall race recap

There's a distinct lack of pictures with this post since neither of my fall half marathons were particularly photogenic.

The 2014 Columbus Half Marathon (now a race of Many Names) changed their course a little this year due to a different start/finish line setup. I really loved the old course and the separate start and finish lines, but it was a pretty big headache for the race organizers, so they changed things up a little. However, they ended up with some pretty gnarly gear check problems, a spectator-deficient start and finish area, and a medal snafu. This, combined with a not-ideal race for me, made for a little bit of a bummer of a weekend.

Sometimes you step up to the starting line of a race and just feel that today is your day. You feel invincible, unstoppable, absolutely fantastic. I didn't feel like that before Columbus, unfortunately, but was able to run a 1:31:11, good for my second fastest half marathon. I was feeling pretty good through mile 9 before things fell apart a little bit.

Big thanks to E for being my road trip buddy to Dayton to pick up The Birdman and then for being an A+ cheerleader on the course!

Two weeks later was the Indy Monumental Half. After Columbus, I really wanted Indy to be my day, but then I ended up flying solo for a week in terms of training and I feel like I just didn't hit what I needed to in those two weeks to have a great race at Indy.

It was much colder than it had been before, so I was all flustered about what to wear for the race. This one was a little windy too, so all my pictures definitely look like I was riding the struggle bus :( The Canadian was a champ and cheered for me at this one, along with a surprise Becca sighting! 1:32:31 was definitely not what I had in mind heading into this race, but it was rough mentally and physically.

Luckily I recovered quickly and have been in the full swing of marathon training! I've gotten in a 20 miler and 22 miler the past two weekends and have 21 on tap for this Saturday. I love these long runs, but part of me is also missing all the fast and speedy stuff I've been doing this summer/fall :) I'd love to PR at Disney (and Boston :D), but I'd also love to run another fast/PR 3K (or even indoor 5K) this winter. However, with a full marathon on January 11, that's probably going to make fast track stuff difficult :) Oh well, see what happens!

I recently found these really cool race posters online, and it's gotten me thinking about all the fun and crafty ways I could display my marathon (or big half marathon) medals/bibs/etc. My long-term goal of running a marathon in all 50 states is presenting a challenge for finding a fun way to display stuff without taking over my apartment (or eventually, my house).

On the school front, my immediate priorities are a.) sorting out issues with my PDA system and b.) applying to jobs! I have a decent list started and am actually pretty excited to applying to stuff. I have a good mix of faculty positions, research-focused careers, and some industry opportunities in the mix, so hopefully something works out! The Canadian had an interview in Baltimore a few weeks ago and is heading out to Arizona to interview with a different company soon...guess I need to get on the ball and start applying places so I can get a few long-weekend vacations in my schedule :)


For those of you playing along at home:
1.) How do you mentally rebound after a difficult race?
2.) What's your fun/creative method of displaying race bibs and/or medals?
3.) What state do you think has the prettiest license plates? (I don't want my car to be ugly when I move! :D)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Oh man, you guys. 2015 is going to be the BIGGEST PILE O' CRAZY I've experienced yet!

Previously, in Sharona's life...

- This summer/fall, I forsook marathon training in the name of being a Ms. SpeedyPants. This goal was met with mixed results. My goal half marathons, Columbus and Indy Monumental, didn't go how I wanted and now I have a *very* cranky hip, but, you know...adversity builds strength and all that jazz.

- Mannie was dressed up as a pumpkin. I am still alive. Sammy was dressed up as a pumpkin. The Canadian is still alive and receiving dead mice from Miss Sammy. Life goes on.
So very true. You've been warned...
- December 2 was scheduled for D-Day! Unfortunately, I was a little too ambitious with my plans for this semester, and now my Due Date has been moved to mid-late February. I cannot tell you how less stressed I am about *everything* in life right now. I'm still going to walk for commencement in December since my friends are graduating, but I won't actually be Dr. SmartyPants until May 2015. Bummer :-/ I'll try to keep everyone updated on the page count/overall progress of my little bundle of joy! (What are your suggestions for the most obnoxious pregnant-lady things I can do with my dissertation? I'd take belly shots, but they seem a bit anticlimactic. I don't plan on gaining thesis weight...)

So. 2015: Disney Marathon. Boston Marathon. Big Sur Marathon. Defend my dissertation. Graduate. Get a job. Move out of West Lafayette. Just...normal life stuff, right?

Can't wait until this is me! ABD!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sometimes my cat wears stuff

But he always hates me when he does. Womp womp.

I'm a pumpkin!

Perhaps the costume is too small?

Tipsy cat in 3...



Sammy made a much better pumpkin :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stuff I'm Loving

Yay! Time for me to window shop, and then share all my fun findings with you guys :)

Stuff I'm Loving, October Edition

Picky Bars!
They're a bit pricey, but mmmm, so good! I've tried the Smooth Caffeinator, Need for Seed, and Cookie Doughpness. The cookie one has been my favorite so far. SC was good, even if the coffee was a little overwhelming at first. Not a huge fan of NfS, but it was still tasty enough. I feel better about grabbing one of these guys with my protein shake for a post-workout breakfast or an energy boosting snack to get me through a long afternoon than I do about Clif Bars.

Saucony Bullet Capris
Dawn has these at the store right now and they're taunting me. I really like running in capris; my quads and hammies stay warm and toasty, but my calves can catch the breeze. I feel like they're a very fall thing to wear, and they're nice for winter races too where you want to be warm, but not *too* warm.

Saucony Swift LS
Another in-store item :) It has the cozy thumb holes and it's super duper soft. I really like the bright orange-pink color too - so cheery! I really don't need any more LS running tops (but I *do* need capris. Really.), but this one might come home with me if there are still some left at Christmastime.

Humiliating Mannie
Mannie has a pumpkin costume. He hates the hat. Video to come...

Meatball Pizza!
I'll share the recipes I used for this in an upcoming post, but know that this thing is DELISH. The Canadian mentioned that a meatball pizza sounded like the best thing ever and it was all I could think about for a few days. When I went out to a brick oven pizza place in Lafayette with some friends and they had a meatball pizza on the menu, I couldn't resist! Sadly, the meatballs were not spectacular, and the entire thing was a little too sauceless for my taste. What's a girl to do?!? Make her own, of course! Whole wheat pizza crust, super easy sauce, homemade meatballs (thanks, C!), and slices of fresh mozzarella. Yummmm :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

More race updates - final stretch!

School has been so busy recently! TA hours, lab struggles (then miraculous solutions), training program duties, attempting to piece together a social life...I am so thankful that my friends understand all of this and tolerate me :)

Two races since the last time we talked, gentle readers:

Delphi Diamond Dash (Delphi, IN; September 13)
This was a cute little 5K just up the road in Delphi. It wasn't big and I had no idea where the course went, but it was fun! I forgot to start my watch, but I was averaging 6:25 pace for 2.31 I'm gonna say that I ran a 19:50-19:55. Whatever my time was, it was good for 1st place female and a top 5 overall finish! This was one of the first cool mornings that we had and it was GLORIOUS!

I'm Shalene Flanagan, and I hover
when I run..
Choholic Frolic 10K (Indianapolis, IN; September 28)Results!
This was the first time this event was in Indy, so of course there were a few hiccups. I don't think anyone was expecting late September to be as warm as it was, so a 10am start time for the 10K sucked. The course wasn't anything too exciting, two laps through the state fairgrounds, but the post-race chocolate/food was nice and the age group/overall awards were AWESOME! I have a new "10K" PR* (the course was awkward old man pants short), 2nd place female, 1st place in my age group (20-29...serious business!), and 4th overall. 

This race kind of crushed my soul a little (dramatic much? le sigh...) and I ended up running for barely 20 minutes on Monday and took yesterday off (aside from some leisurely biking and a yoga for runners video). I have mile repeats tomorrow, a decent long run/workout on Saturday, a big workout next Wednesday, and then...the Columbus Half Marathon! The goal there is to run 6:45-6:50 miles and break 1:30. Bam. Easy peasy. I'll leave you with a picture of CHOCOLATE:
Chocolate gives me the giggles :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Race updates!

Since my last post, I've been a bit busy with the start of my last school year (specifically, TA many. hours.) and racing! Training has had its ups and down, mainly due to the sudden appearance of SUMMER, but I'm (still) not hating speedwork as much as I feared I would, and people are noticing my impressive muscles from Nichole's lifting plans :) So what have I been up to on the racing front?

Only race picture of me:
ugly/wonky part of stride
Fail! :-/
Katie's Run for Autism (Noblesville, IN; August 17) - Results!
So this was a first-year race in Noblesville which didn't really bother me since they had held this event in Bloomington for a few years...but I should have been wary of a first-year race. It was pretty low-key, which was nice for my first race back, but the weather was a big pile of suck as it was warm and HUMID. I was in first for miles 1 and 2, then my legs pooped out and I got passed by a girl and her training partner dude. Needless to say, I wasn't super stoked about ended up second, but then the results people/timing company screwed up results hard core and I was left off the list AND the awards list. The 'third' place woman didn't show for her award, so I snagged her glass and booked it home. Luckily the race sticker on the glass peeled off without too much work, so there's a win. First race of the season, done. Ick.

Not shown: Old, old orange shoes :)
ONU Alumni XC Meet (Bluffton Nature Preserve, Bluffton, OH; August 29) - Results here!
I love going back to ONU events to see the team and meet up with all my Polar Bear alums that I haven't seen in a bit. This year was hot and humid like last year, and the course wasn't well shaded for the second loop of the 5K route. I got out well, in second for the alumni behind Karen, and then just tried to hold on to my position. I ended up second for the alumni team, 19th overall, sneaking in just under 21:00. My legs (ok, just my left quad, basically) hurt like hell after this. I'm not sure if I blame grass or the fact that I wore my college racing flats (since I couldn't find my high school/college spikes...).

Blueberry Stomp 15K (Plymouth, IN; September 1) - Results!
I was really hoping for a fantastic race and a chance to snag some money, but 'twas not my day. Another adventure in humidity, so that sucked. I forgot that this course rolled so much in the middle section, so even though I tried to keep up the intensity and the pace, I fell off the speed wagon a little and ended up fourth female overall. At least I won my age group and ended up with a Sportsula...a giant grill spatula with a bottle opener in the handle! As soon as I get a grill, that sucker will be getting a workout :) I should also note that Erin and I were super disappointed by the lack of blueberry pie at the festival. Yes, we found blueberry mini-donuts, but they just don't cut it when you've had your heart set on pie and ice cream for days. Le sigh.

Next up is a 5K in Delphi, IN followed by a 10K down in Indy at the end of the month. My legs have been feeling pretty beat up lately with all the workouts, but I'm really hoping that it pays off with a 1:29:XX half marathon in ~6 weeks!

In non-running related news, I have a (long overdue, like, haven't gone since March?!) haircut this afternoon. Erin dyed her hair black and got some dark red highlight put in her bottom layers, so I've been toying with the idea of a bit of a hair change. Maybe long swoopy bangs? (But then they might be a pain in the bum while I run, and my butt hurts bad enough as it is. Also: Jenny Simpson's race pictures with her bangs look a little goofy, but she's running SO WELL right now that maybe bangs are the answer?) Maybe some streaks of awesome color in there somewhere? 

I had lunch with Gingerbread Man at Jimmy John's today and he was teasing me about finding all sorts of stuff in my hair since it's so flippin' long. Like, maybe I'll get a few dollars in change and find my spare car key in there :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reality vs Cookbook

So back in June, Erin bought me a copy of The Runner's World Cookbook. She had made a couple of recipes that were pretty good, one of them being some type of cake...featuring black beans. What. But seriously, it was pretty tasty! Barely beany at all.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I decided to try my hand at the same recipe. I should have know that I was sailing in dangerous waters when I was looking up substitutes for agave syrup and oat bran flour.

The initial steps were promising:

Frosting hides a multitude of sins
but unfortunately, things weren't quite as tasty as they seemed...

vs. cookbook
 Needless to say, I need to compare notes with Erin because this recipe was a complete and total FLOP for me. So now I'm stuck with a 9"x13" pan of beany brownie things in my fridge. (At least the frosting is decent...) Any takers? :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Taco Tuesday!

Ok, not really...sorry :)

My last post wasn't a post as much as me inventing a reason to use a Kelly Clarkson song, so I actually apologize for that. I'm sure that you've all been gnawing away at your fingernails to see what I'm up to!

Fear not, gentle reader, the wait is over!

I've been in a weird funk recently and I'm not totally sure what's behind it. Maybe it's the fact that from 9am to noon every single weekday, I sit in an overchilled, windowless tutoring room and answer questions/hold hands/put out fires for my Thermo Babies. (At this point, my future possible careers as professor and/or mother are questionable.) Maybe it's the fact that it's currently only 72 degrees...and it's JULY 29. WHAT.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's because Nichole is trying to turn me into a speed demon with track workouts, therefore making my running recaps all ~*suPeR speCIaL*~ "Hey guys! Today I ran really fast around in a circle. Then I stopped and wheezed and yogged for a bit. THEN I RAN FAST AGAIN, but not as fast as Nichole thinks I can which makes me sad and feel like a failure :("

(j/k Nichole, I don't feel like a failure)

So basically this post is a mad grab bag of everything that's been bouncing around my head, dying to get out, but totally not worthy of an entire post (see: Kelly Clarkson songs).

I've watched The Lego Movie THREE times this month. THREE TIMES, YOU GUYS. Like, everything is awesome, but maybe...not quite...that awesome. It's totally turning into 4th grade lunch all over again, except this time around, I won't hate bologna+mustard+cheese on white for the rest of my terrestrial existence.

In other news (so, Important Adult Things), I got a raise at the running store! Yay! What am I planning on doing with my new-found wealth? Probably buy Blizzards at DQ more often. I've been craving Reese's PB Cup Pie Blizzards almost as much as I've been craving naps (which is a whole big bunch, because after you've spent 3 hours coddling sophomores and then running, or perhaps waking up at the buttcrack of dawn to run and THEN coddle, you just want mac & cheese for lunch and to sleep like Mannie until dinner).

I just finished reading "Rocket Girl" last night (reading for fun WHAT), the store of Mary Sherman Morgan, who was a pretty big part of the reason America was able to launch anything (monkey, satellite, bowling ball, etc.) up into space. It was a pretty interesting book and I think that anyone who's currently pursuing a science/engineering-y career would like it, space-y people more than the rest of you silly jokers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dear Running

'Cause we belong together now, yeah
Forever united here somehow, yeah
You got a piece of me
And honestly
My life (my life) would suck (would suck) without you

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vote For Me!

I've submitted an entry to the December 2014 Runner's World cover contest!

Much like my Saucony Hurricane application, it was done as a 'hey that sounds fun' turned into 'hey I'll actually do this' idea. Unlike my Hurricane application, I'm hoping this one will be successful!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Stuff I'm Loving - July Edition

Today marks the first day of my new training cycle! Nichole is having me focus more on speed for the next month-month and a half. I'm equally nervous and excited. I never though I'd break 20:00 for a 5K and now my PR is a 19:43, so I have a faster-than-marathon-pace gear in there somewhere!

I took two weeks almost completely off of running after Grandma's. I was sick for the second week of that (boo!), so it was a much-needed break. No cross training, even! To say that I was lazy would not be untrue :)

So what's on my radar of Cool Stuff We Should All Have for July? Here we go!

Meijer Dark Chocolate Cocoa Dusted Almonds
Someone (I think it was Jenn) gave me a bag of these in my box o' awesome. They. Are. Delish. Almonds are pretty good for you until you cover them in chocolate x 2. They're also a super tasty car snack, so +1 for summer roadtrips! (Just don't leave them in there, lest they melt and make you sad...)

Lindt Chocolate Minis
Also in the box o' awesome! The bag is super cute (Nice to sweet you!) and these suckers are good. They're really rich, so you can honestly only eat one or two (at a time) before the sugar rush is overwhelming. I really like the caramel brownie ones!

Ulta nail polish - Boogie Nights
I visited my sister down at IU this weekend. She has a wee bit of a makeup/nail polish...issue...and I was given the chance to snatch up some of her unwanted extras. This polish is described as 'a glitter bomb' and I can't wait to try it out after my 4th of July manicure is gone. (Side note: my nails have been all glammed up since the Thursday before the marathon! I am a big fan of this whole 'being a girl' thing because nail polish is FUN!)
NyQuil Severe
Hey. I was sick. This stuff was awesome. I slept like a baby and my throat didn't hurt and my everything else wasn't achy and I wasn't alternately freezing/sweating to death. I almost never take stuff when I'm sick, but when sick gets between me and sleep, I pull out the big guns. This particular bottle promised to be 'Berry Flavor' but it still tasted like butt. Just...berry butt.

I'm heading down to Cincinnati at the end of the month for a bridal shower/bachelorette party for a good college friend. Cincinnati has an IKEA. I will be visiting it and buying a garlic press, and possibly pants-wearing broccoli or owl things. It's probably a very, very good thing that IKEA isn't closer...

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Angry Carb Monster

I like this whole 'regular update' thing; it's kinda nice :)

One really big change to my taper before Grandma's Marathon was to try Nichole's carb depletion/load cycle diet...thing. I was a little nervous before starting it since her blog posts on the subject weren't especially encouraging. Lack of carbs + first week of summer TA hours = potential for a meltdown

Honestly, it wasn't quite as terrible as I was expecting. I really missed my carbs, yes, and it was incredibly annoying to learn that just about everything has too many carbs in it for my pseudo-Atkins diet. It was hard for me to get enough calories in...there's only so much chicken and tuna I could stomach.

Thanks to my handy-dandy calorie tracker website, I could keep track of carbs and calories. I also downloaded a few Atkins diet menu plans to give me some ideas (totally recommend doing this!). So what did I end up eating?

  • Eggs. Lots of eggs.
  • Sausage links!
  • Almond milk (not terrible...get original, not vanilla since it has too much sugar AND CARBS)
  • Raw broccoli
  • Flourless chocolate keto cake (this, plus Erin's avocado totally saved me)
  • Turkey pepperoni
  • String cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes (only a few...)
  • TUNA
  • Spinach
  • Green pepper (again, not a ton)
  • Avocado!
  • Tilapia
  • Asparagus
I definitely got stuck in a rut with breakfast and I was really tired of chicken by the end. (I don't think I've eaten chicken, aside from a post-marathon burrito, since this week...) I also drank a TON of water, partially because all the sodium was making me thirsty, and partially because I was still kinda hungry and at least water was filling me up (and was carb free, to boot!). 

I had a tuneup workout on Tuesday of The Diet. Nichole adjusted my paces (SO MUCH SLOWER) and while I felt totally weird and not like myself at all, the workout actually went well. It was oh-so-nice to wake up on Wednesday morning and eat some pre-run animal crackers and then have a bagel for breakfast :) Spaghetti had never tasted so good!

I think this had a positive effect on my race. I had my pre-race UCAN drink, a UCAN gel, and two Roctane Gu's during the marathon, which is pretty normal. I never felt like I was in danger of an energy crash, which was pleasantly different. (Maybe it was my 2:45am bagel/breakfast #1...) Overall, I guess, I'll have to say that this is definitely something I'll consider before my next marathon. I don't feel like I was especially creative with my menu and, like I said, getting enough calories in was a challenge, but the end benefit was worth it!

Yay for crazy runner things :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 Grandma's Marathon

Hey howdy ho, neighborinos! I ran another marathon this past weekend up in Duluth, MN (home of Kara Goucher!). Since I have been lax about blogging lately, I figured I should get this post up so you don't think I've fallen off the face of the Earth or anything...
Thank-you muffins for my catsitters and drivers :)
Travel food!
On Thursday, I flew into MSP where Nichole and company were planning on picking me up. My flight was delayed coming out of Indy (THANKS DELTA), so it was late when I got into the Twin Cities. Luckily, the Porath Prius was fully loaded with Rice Krispie treats, so Nate was happy. Wearing my bright orange Boston jacket was a smart move because the airport was pretty busy. Craig definitely had no problem spotting me as I stood in the middle of everyone, looking like a lost puppy.

Friday was chilly, foggy, and full of surprises! We stayed in a house that is rented out to four guys attending the UMN-Duluth. It reminded me so much of Thee Taj from my ONU days, hence the reason for wearing socks (at least) at all times...

My shakeout run post-packet pickup felt decent but not great. That's about how the Boston shakeout run went, so I wasn't worried. Plus, I spent most of the 10-15 minutes we were running talking to first-time-marathoner Amy and enjoying the scenery of downtown Duluth. Nichole put on her coach hat when we got back and made everyone talk about our race mantras and motivation and what our in-race nutrition plan was going to be. I really struggled with motivation after Boston and since I'm not a naturally super positive person, the 'warm fuzzy' part of the afternoon was difficult.

Box o' awesome
To make things better, though, Nichole brought out a surprise box for me! Matt had gone to the trouble of contacting tons of my friends and training buddies to make an awesome surprise box. I started crying as I read all the cards, but then there was a ton of chocolate and some sparkley nail polish and other fun stuff to turn my tears into a giant smile. I really have the best friends!

We spent the rest of the day watching (and then quoting) Top Gun and eating CARBS. (OMG, there's another post I need to do about CARBS or the lack the blog this weekend!) Off to bed early for a marathon in the morning!

Foggy morning in MN
I woke up at 2:45am for first breakfast on Saturday morning, then at 5:45am for second breakfast and to get
up for reals. It was a pretty relaxed morning since we were going to be dropped off at the starting line. I lost everyone when I had to take off my pants at gear check, but then I found Amy and Nate in the starting corral. I was really thankful to Claire and Jake for running out and getting me a pair of gardening gloves the night before because it was chilly! It was also really foggy, so being damp didn't help.

When the race finally started, my goal was to stay between 7:45-7:35 through halfway and then re-evaluate. Every once in a while I'd look down at my watch and see that I was cruising at 7:30s and I really had to hold back. It felt nice to be able to tell myself to slow down! The course, while totally enveloped in fog, was really beautiful. I felt like I was running in Oregon or Washington. You could hear the waves lapping on the rocks and fog horns from ships out on the lake. So nice :)

really wanted that 3:20!
Once half hit, I was just over pace for a 3:20 full, so I decided to buckle down a little and see if I couldn't make 3:20 happen. 'Just 10 miles, then a 5K'...'just 8 miles, then a 5K'...'just 2 miles, then a 5K'. The 5K, I decided at mile 13, was when BEAST MODE would kick in. Looking back at my splits, I think beast mode started at half! The last 10K was a very concentrated effort to GO. I wanted that 3:20 so badly, but it wasn't
until 5K to go when I realized that I was going to come in under that, even!

Am I going to make it?
I was so thankful to have Kara run with me for a bit during the last little twisty turny section by the finish. I thought I was going to bite it on a pretty substantial downhill, but I kept rolling along. It was so encouraging
to hear people cheering out "Great pace!" or "You look awesome!" as I was running at the end. I just felt so strong the entire time! Looking at some of the race photos, I know I still get wonky arms, but hot damn, I wanted that 3:20.

This weekend was more than just trying to set a new PR after 5 marathons around the 3:28 mark. I wanted June 21, 2014 to be memorable for great reasons instead of for the emotional baggage that's been associated with it. I wanted to prove that I am NOT a 3:28 marathon. I wanted that smaller Boston (and Disney!) Marathon bib number. I wanted to really reap the product of six months of hard training. I wanted to prove to myself that the 18 mile run I did on a treadmill was worth it, that not eating carbs for three days was worth it, that lifting twice a week and not drinking margaritas and going to bed early and waking up at the buttcrack of dawn for too many weekends was worth it. Setting a 10 minute PR was definitely the result of being so driven...3:18:16, and I worked for every second of it!

So was it all worth it, truly?

Yes, yes, yes. I know that I have the absolute best friends in the world here in West Lafayette, in Morgantown, WV, in East Granby, CT; that my running family in Northfield, MN means the world to me; and that I have a coach who is willing to dress up in a cow suit to cheer me on, believe in me even when I'm not totally sold, and push me beyond what I ever though I could do.

Training for a marathon changes your life. It's impossible to be the same person at the finish as who you were 26.2 miles earlier. This weekend renewed my passion for life and for running. You betcha that I'll be back out on the roads next week with a smile on my face and a new goal in my mind and even more passion and enthusiasm in my heart.

Running is a love/hate relationship sometimes. The races where you finish and feel like you couldn't have put an ounce more of yourself into it are where you make that relationship stronger. I finished with a huge smile on my face and another finish-line fist pump (watch it here!).

This race was the perfect end to a rocky journey. Thank you to everyone who made it possible!

All smiles post-race with Cory

Marathon crew and cheering herd!
EDIT: My lovely friends are also good proofreaders and told me I forgot to mention my actual time. Oops :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to...make a dress in less than 24 hours

I'm currently holding my first session of TA hours for the newly-started summer semester. I have one student. Yay!

I'm also currently trying to not think about foods with carbs in them (which, btw, is practically EVERYTHING). I would just about kill someone for a bread crust right now. Ugh.

Anyhoo, I went back to fair Ohio last week for a few days. Not as scenic as Wisconsin, but I got to see mum and dad for a few days and meet the new kitties. I didn't plan on doing anything terribly productive, but then mum asked if I wanted to swing by JoAnn's and I had to say YES of course, and then I remembered this super cute dress that Kristel made and YES, I would like to make that. In less than 24 hours.

So how do you do this? Lucky you, I have this super helpful step-by-step (mostly) tutorial! Here we go!

STEP 1: Pick a pattern that says EASY on the package. It will be a big, fat liar, but won't hurt your chances of success. (Pro tip: pleats are not easy.)

No directions in MEOW?
STEP 2: Cut out the pattern pieces. It's very helpful to have paperweights and/or other help during this stage. You should probably iron the pieces first as well to increase their appeal.
I'm just going to sit...HERE. This looks nice.

STEP 3: Cut out the fabric. Again, HAVE HELP. Or at least supervision.

STEP 4: Follow the zillion and one pattern directions. Get mum to interpret things, because if you're both staring at step 19 with perplexed looks, someone will come up with something to avoid permanently wrinkling their face in a ponderous look.

Gracie was such a good helper!
STEP 5: When things don't come together right, meh. No biggie. Sew it later.

STEP 6: Leave the hand stitching for later! It's almost wearable as-is. Try it on because you will look fabulous in your new dress!
OMG. So exhausting. Being cute, that is...

Other pro tips: Pins lots, use big stitches for machine basting, and use an invisible zipper if possible. They're actually easier to install sew in than a regular zipper, provided that you iron it into submission first (and hand baste - ugh, I KNOW - it into place).

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Putting it all in perspective

Perspective is one of those sneaky things that seems to work out better for everyone else.

Like, you are complaining to your significant other that you feel so fat and lazy. If they're not a terrible human being (or if you aren't legit fat and/or lazy), they'll probably respond with something along the lines of "Oh, that's not true. You're not on 'My 600 Pound Life' or sitting at home every day. I bet your sofa doesn't have a butt-shaped dent in it!" Well, ugh. I mean, technically, they're right BUT (and that 'but' negates everything before it!), you still feel fat and lazy.

I had a friend of mine complain about how he didn't PR in his spring half marathon after experiencing epic time drops between his first and second and second and third half marathons. I snapped back about my marathon times and how they're stuck at 3:28 and why am I not getting faster gahhhhh.


This morning I ran a 5 mile race down in Indy. I don't usually do the 5 mile distance (just on Thanksgiving Day back home in Ohio), so it was a nice change of pace for a fun distance. Unfortunately, I felt like a big ol' bucket of yuck on my warmup and started getting upset. 

PERSPECTIVE: I am currently training for my second marathon in three months. My legs will not always feel like glitter and unicorn farts. 

I was also stressing about feeling really chubby this week, to the point where I was selecting race apparel on Friday night based on what made me look/feel skinny.

PERSPECTIVE: I am not an overweight individual. My chubby feeling is the result of stress eating, lack of sleep, and poor food choices.

It's hard to keep things in perspective sometimes, isn't it? As runners, we love to feel fast and willowy all the time. Unfortunately, we're mortal human beings without unlimited funds and/or Alberto Salazar to keep us in line. This means that sometimes our legs will feel junky and our midsections will feel chubby.

So what do we do?

Keep it all in perspective.

I went back to my trusty running training log to see how my 5 mile race times have progressed since the fall of 2007. Six and a half minutes over six and a half years. I finished as the second female (which I started beating myself up about: first was only 20 seconds ahead of you! You gave up during the middle miles! You -- wait, you're training for another marathon. That shut me up pretty quickly. That, and awesome post-race cookies...) and top 10 overall. Not a shabby performance, but one that, if not kept in perspective, could be viewed as disappointing. 

Don't let one bad race ruin your running parade. Keep your head up, re-read a log of your favorite running moments, and keep your running shoes firmly on level ground. Running is full of ups and downs; enjoy the ride.

Because Rome wasn't built in a day.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The 2014 Boston Marathon

Yes, yes. That's right, Gentle Reader. I am finally recapping my Boston Marathon experience, a bit tardily. I'm gonna warn you, though, this is a bit of a novel. Grab a cuppa and settle in, it's Boston recap time!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Stuff I'm Liking - May Edition

So no, this isn't THE Boston Marathon recap post (I'm working on it!), but it's still full of good/fun stuff :)

Being mostly in-between TA positions right now means that I am picking up lots of extra hours at Fleet Feet in order to pay for things like rent and cat food. Unfortunately, this means that I'm spending lots of extra hours around cool running gear that I really shouldn't even consider buying. Couple this with an epic case of post-race blues, and I'm in trouble. So without further ado, I present....

Cool Stuff I Wish I Had Right Now

NB 890v4 - Boston Edition: I ran my Boston in the normal version of these shoes and absolutely loved them. So of course I want the Boston version. (Un)Fortunately, it looks like they're sold out of my size (8). Go figure :(

ROLL Recovery: This training block has taught me that getting older sucks big time. The first three body parts this website mentions are the quads, hamstrings, and IT band. I'm sold...except it's the same price as those shoes I want. Decisions, decisions...

Erica Sara Designs: 'Feminine jewelry for fierce women' sounds pretty cool. They have these super cute 'run' rings and 26.2 necklaces. I am a pretty, sparkly runner and I need some bling for my body to match my sparkle skirt, natch.

Saucony tanks: I can't decide which pattern I like more, the Daybreak or Velo print. I realized (this weekend as I was post-finals cleaning/purging/organizing) that I actually don't have nearly as many tank tops as I thought I did. Since this summer is supposed to be a scorcher (and since I've been doing my daily pushups), I think I need to up my supply.

New Balance tank: The Momentum Racerback print is super cute. Can I please just live in running clothes? I'd be up for a radioactive spider bite if it meant that all of a sudden I was an Olympic-caliber athlete and someone would be paying me to run and look sporty all the time.

Ridiculous print Nike shorts:, of course I need them! Do I seriously need an actual reason to want to wrap my tushie in bright orange zigzag print spandex? No? Exactly. Didn't think so. Besides, looking this crazy during a race will either make people think I'm a total speedster badass, or a sorority girl who doesn't take this seriously. My lack of iPod and prominent watch tan line (omg, it's there already how did that happen??!?) will probably put me in Camp A instead of Camp B. Sweet.

Speedy Freezes: Ok, maybe not now, but definitely last night. All I could think about for the last 2 miles of a buggy, humid run was how delicious a Speedy Freeze would taste/feel. Not that weird brown dude on the right, though (Coke slushies make me sick), but definitely Blue or Red or Mountain Dew. 

Stupid disclaimer note so no one gets up in my biznass about this: No one sponsors me, no one paid me to write about their stuff. I just like pretty, pretty things and thought I'd share my current favorites with y'all!