Monday, December 28, 2015

A Midwestern Girl's Guide to Moving West

Hello again, Gentle Reader! The last you heard from me, I had moved the Manwich out to Arizona, but I was heading back to Indiana. At this point, I've been out in sunny Arizona for a little over six months. While I don't consider myself an expert on Western living, I can offer a few helpful tips for anyone Back East considering a move Out West :) Without further ado...

A Midwestern Girl's Guide to Moving West

  • Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way: Find a sunscreen you really, really, really like. Like, the kind that you'll fight with your SO over to use up the last little bit. For me, it was finding something mildly sweatproof in spray-on form. I also found a really lovely facial moisturizer with a good SPF. Just think of living in Arizona like living at the beach all the time: you get that awesome summery sunscreen smell without the humidity or hurricanes!
  • Other obvious statement: Learn to love drinking water. I got a lovely adult sippy cup (it has a straw) at Le Target when I was buying a six-pack of my spray sunscreen. My office has water coolers all over the place, so it's really easy to keep refilling my bottle during the day. Another bonus: super hydrated = lots of pee breaks = mini walk breaks during the day. Win win win!
  • Make sure you bring your sense of humor. If you move out West in the summer, like I did, you'll be hard pressed to find someone back home that won't crack the 'It's a dry your oven!' joke at least once or twice (a conversation). Flip side: you can giggle at all the AZ natives when they bust out legit winter jackets once the temp drops below 40 or 50. Tee hee...
  • Marginally related to item #1: Find a good moisturizer. It feels like the atmosphere is just sucking the life out of my face some days. I use this stuff because it doesn't make me feel like an oil slick, it doesn't smell weird, and it works!
  • Sad news: You should probably find new friends that live closer to you now, because everyone will assume you've dropped off the face of the planet once you've moved out of their time zone. Just kidding. A little. Kinda. But honestly, it does suck being so far away from all my old friends. And it also sucks a giant pile of poo that people take things like thank you notes, emails, and/or texts foregranted. I tried to combat this a little by sending out a spectacular Christmas card and being proactive with holiday texts, but...le sigh.It just happens, I guess. You should try to entice them to visit with a.) numerous Facebook/Instagram posts of all the gorgeous sunrises/sunsets you enjoy, b.) numerous Facebook/Instagram posts of all the awesome nature-y stuff you enjoy, and/or c.) a picture of you at the pool in mid-January. Pool-side tasty adult beverage optional :) [Aside: your friends better be the good kind with a sense of humor, or else they probably won't appreciate living in a dreary gray slushbox in January while you're enjoying 60s and sunshine. Use your best judgement on this one...]
  • If you don't love Mexican food now, you will soon. Or else. The Canadian and I were going through a period during his hockey season where we were almost regulars at the Nico's Taco Shop that was a 5 minute walk from our apartment complex. Their carne asada burritos? So good...and also very acceptable as tacos, too! There are so many good places to eat! And horchata? Didn't know what it was six months ago, but if you offer me some now, I will not say no.
  • And the outdoors! We bought an annual National Parks pass (best $80) and have been using it almost every month. The Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Saguaro, and Sabino Canyon trips have been great long weekend adventures (which will be recapped in upcoming posts...hopefully).
And now, time for audience participation :)
- If you've made a big move from one side of the country to another, what are some helpful tips you picked up during your first few months in your new state?
- Never been to Arizona? What burning questions do you have about The Grand Canyon State?

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Manwich is sleeping off his catnip high, The Canadian is getting excited for the Jets/Coyotes game on NYE, and I'm in love with my new Garmin running watch!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas from Sharona and The Canadian
(and our kitties, Sammy and Mannie)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Manwich's Big Adventure!

In case you missed it, I'm moving. Again. This time, to Arizona! It's basically my first real move (that is, one involving the interstate, multiple time zones, and paying other people lots of money to haul my stuff). Mannie was upset about the disruption and decided he was too good to sleep on the floor (or he was nervous that he'd get packed up in a box if he wasn't sleeping in an obvious place)...

In order to get a Mannie cat from Point A to Point B, I needed to successfully navigate the WL to Indy drive, IND security, two flights, the Minneapolis airport, and a drive from Phoenix to Tucson.

Our trip got off to an uneventful start when Mannie assumed his normal car spot on the middle front armrest and proceeded to drool on M's leg for 75 minutes. I wiped down his special airplane carrier with pheromone wipes and in he went! Success so far! Then came security. When The Canadian traveled with Miss Sammy, he didn't have to strip AND take her out, so I wasn't too worried about Mannie (since I didn't know how I could handle putting on my shoes while cat wrangling...).

I. Was. Wrong.

Leg room galore!
Hi Mannie!
Apparently (I learned this after the fact), you can request a private screening when traveling with a pet. Then you don't have to remove them from their carrier in front of a ton of people, try to hang on to 14 pounds of squirmy cat in front of unhelpful TSA people, and you (probably) won't get clawed up as you try to stuff 14 pounds of cat back into his carrier post-security screening. Positives of this: everyone felt bad for me! The TSA people didn't have anything but alcohol wipes, so I used those. By the time I got to my gate, my arm was still bleeding. I initially asked if there was any way I could get a set with more space (ie, please move me from the cattleyard that is normal coach) oh, and could I also get a bandaid for this carnage? The Delta gate ladies were super nice, and Mannie and I ended up with an entire Economy Comfort row to ourselves! 

Post-security carnage...
Once we got on the plane, we sat there for a while. Apparently there was some sort of issue with the engines. So I sat there texting The Canadian and watching my 51 minute layover in Minneapolis disappear. Eventually we got on in the air and were on our way! Mannie was a champ and was just a little cranky during takeoff. I was super glad to have been moved up to row 11 since I had 20 minutes before my flight to Phoenix was scheduled to leave.

I learned that Terminal G isn't as close to Terminal F as you'd imagine. I was that crazy person running through the MSP airport with a pissed off cat in his carrier on my shoulder. I thought about taking off my flipflops so I could run faster, but I was scared of bouncing Mannie around too much. I made it to my gate at the last boarding call and we got on the plane without any problems...and had an entire row to ourselves again!

Mannie was so good during this flight too, and we landed in Phoenix without any more problems. The Canadian was on the other side of security with food for me and a litter box for Manwich waiting in the car :) He's really the best, guys...

Since I felt so bad about traumatizing Mannie, we made a Petsmart run yesterday so I could buy him a kitty skyscraper. He is enjoying it, I think:

While he's enjoying his view from up there, I'm enjoying the view from Pool #2 (I'll try out Pool #1 on Monday, I think)...

 And now we're settled in to Tucson! I'll be here for a few more days, then head back to WL to finish up my dissertation stuff. Mannie gets to hang out with Sammy, The Canadian, and his skyscraper, so I think he's forgiven me.

More adventures to come from the American Southwest!

Saturday, May 23, 2015


...isn't waiting in line at the Post Office or the BMV.

It's waiting on your advisor to respond to your emails and read your dissertation because your life is literally on hold until he does so.

I am so PhDone with this nonsense...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 Big Sur Marathon - Boston 2 Big Sur, Part II

Sometimes, the fact that something is a complete and total unknown is a good thing. Case: I didn't know what I was getting into when I ran my first marathon, and it ended up being my fastest time for a year and a half.

Sometimes, being blissfully ignorant is the only good thing about a situation. Case: Running two marathons on opposite coasts SIX days apart.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

2015 Boston Marathon - Boston 2 Big Sur, Part I

This spring's training and racing has been a little different from previous years for lots of reasons. In terms of training, I just never really felt like I hit my stride/found my groove, and it resulted in some 'meh' races and a huge lack of motivation.

J is such an inspiration and all-around
wonderful human being :)
Luckily, as the 2015 Boston Marathon grew closer, I was able to reclaim some of that excitement and I was looking forward to the trip to Boston (and running, too, I guess). I was able to stay with my wonderful HS pal in Somerville again (and chill with Miss Biscuit and eat like a queen), plus meeting up with a runner from WL and another TNC member were also on my agenda.

Sunday in Boston was GORGEOUS. I hit up the expo, bought a hat (got my jacket and a tank ahead of time this year...lesson learned from 2014!), and went out for a delicious lunch. I watched so many movies and had a couple of good shake out runs.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Disney Week!

3.5 months later....

My friend Matt is, to put it kindly, a huge Disney nerd. He's also a runner, so what better race for his first marathon than the Disney World Marathon! The fact that my birthday fell on the Wednesday after the race made a perfect excuse to spend an entire week hanging out in theme parks and ignoring grad school for a bit :)

The race was on a Sunday, but we flew to Orlando on Friday. In preparation for a very early Sunday morning, we had a dress rehearsal middle-of-the-night wake-up call on Saturday to watch the SpaceX launch!

Sunday was the race (which you guys already read about). 

Monday: Epcot! Lots of space/futuristic stuff, a world showcase (and tasty beverages), and rain, unfortunately. But it was a good first day!

Cokes around the world!

Tuesday: Universal Studios! (Not just Harry Potter...) This was SO MUCH FUN! Matt made me venture outside of Hogwarts and Hogsmede, which ok fine whatever, but seriously, all the Harry Potter stuff was truly what I was the most excited about :) Highlight: being chosen for Ollivander's wand demonstration! And the Gringott's ride! And the dragon! And the frozen Butterbeer!

Wednesday: My birthday! What else to do today but go to the Magic Kingdom! I even got a birthday button :) I think we rode all the big rides (that were open) AND even waited in line to see Anna and Elsa. The only thing I remember from my first Disney trip (when I was 4 or 5) was the Peter Pan ride, which, sadly, we didn't go on...but everything else was fun (including the Teacups, of course!)

Thursday: We hit up Kennedy Space Center to see Atlantis. This was probably more exciting than the marathon OR Harry Potter OR my interaction with Gaston. Sorry for all the pictures (it's so incredible in person!), but I have to share them with you :)

 Tee hee, space toilet instructions ------------------------------->>

Friday: Epic day of park hopping. We started the day in Animal Kingdom, Matt's old stomping grounds, then hit up Hollywood Studios before bouncing back to Epcot to see their nighttime fireworks/light show.

Goodbye Disney World!
So basically, a really awesome trip, right?!?! What I didn't talk about (but definitely will in another post): all the characters I met! 26 miles of marathoning, 26 characters met, complete with pictures and autographs. It was a crazy busy week, but the weather in Indiana totally sucked in January, so it was really lovely to escape for a bit :)

I escaped to Tucson for a week in February, Vegas for a week in March, and will be heading to Boston and San Francisco/Monterey/Big Sur for weekends in April. I think my travel bug is telling me that I'm destined for a warmer location soon :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Long Time, No See

Usually you can tell how crazy hectic things have gotten for me by the frequency of my blog updates :) Since it's been almost two months since the last one, I guess I've been up to quite a bit!

I still need to post about all the fun stuff that I did during my post-marathon week in Orlando, my big post-graduation news, and my spring break trip to Vegas...but I'm just not really feeling any of that right now.

Running has been disappointing more often than not lately. Nichole reworked last week's schedule to give my legs a chance to bust out of a funk and get their fresh, bouncy feel back. It worked for a few days, and then yesterday's disaster happened.

Sometimes you are looking forward to a long run...a chance to spend 18 miles in the sunshine and fresh air? Yes, please! Except yesterday wasn't so wonderful. My hip was cranky from the start, and by mile 8, it was so annoying that I had to stop for a bit and whine to The Canadian. It felt ok until ~13 miles, but by then I was so over running that I just wanted to get home and take a hot shower. I am glad I made it to 15 miles, but ugh. I just feel so far behind where I was for Grandma's or last year's Boston and I'm trying to stay positive about my upcoming races, but... It's hard to be Suzy Sunshine when your workouts are all during into train wrecks.

Maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but it's supposed to snow 1-3" here today. I am over winter and crappy runs and disappointing workouts (and races!). Ugh.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WDW Marathon recap

Ready to race!
I guess I owe you guys a race recap, right?

I can't believe that two weeks ago, I was hanging out in the Magic Kindgom, spinning around in a teacup/meeting Ariel/eating Dole Whip/celebrating my 28th birthday! Today, I'm spending 7 hours in the tutorial room for ME 200. Boo :(

Going into the marathon, Nichole made the comment that she thought I was in sub-3:15 shape. Crushing some major workouts IS a really good sign :) Unfortunately, I am not a very good racer in heat and/or humidity. Orlando's forecast was calling for a decent amount of both (for a marathon, anyway). Thankfully the forecast kept getting cooler and since the race started at 5:30am, I was going to be running a decent chunk of it in the dark.

Race game plan: UCAN 30 minutes out, 5:00 super easy jogging with 10-15 minutes to go, UCAN goo at 1 hour, Roctane Gus every 45 minutes after that (total of 3, with a backup 4th). Start out 5-10 seconds/mile slower than goal MP (so 7:35-:40), go for the 3:15 and see what happens!

Race execution: UCAN consumed, jog done, UCAN goo leak all over my hands, 3 Roctane Gus consumed, 1 Roctane gu dropped while fishing out #3, lots of Gatorade with the Gu/water with the UCAN, and no GI episodes!

Per usual with me and marathons, I do not remember large chunks of this course. I remember most of the Magic Kingdom, but only a very small bit of Animal Kingdom. I remember hating all the turns in the Wide World of Sports (I have a very grumpy face in all my race pictures here). I saw the Team Sparkle girls in Epcot and Aladin ran with me for a bit! I high-fived Pluto at the finish line! My hip held together admirably! I ran a 3:20:18! I was the 24th female finisher, 5th in my age group! I had a great race, physically, mentally, and emotionally!

Honestly, this was such a cool race experience. Disney definitely has the gear check process down exactly as it should be done. I wasn't the biggest fan of the really long walk to the start corrals (no worse than Boston) or the lack of porta-pots once you were in the corral, but nothing that was terrible/a deal breaker. My favorite part of the race was seeing Cinderella's Castle all lit up with lights. All my race pictures here feature a huge smile :) [Please don't sue me, MarathonFoto...]

Isn't this COOL!?!?

Also, this was M's very first marathon! As his coach, I was super nervous about his race once I finished mine. He ran a 4:00 marathon with two picture stops (very well-deserved), so a huge shout-out to him :)

Birthday/good luck flowers
 from my parents :)
To celebrate my birthday and M's graduation, we spent the entire week getting the whole Central Florida experience: Monday at Epcot, Tuesday at (both) Universal parks, Wednesday at Magic Kingdom, Thursday at Kennedy Space Center (!!!!!), and Friday park hopping between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. M's friends Jason and Erica work at Disney, so that made things a lot more fun :) Being chosen by Olivander for the wand demonstration in Diagon Alley was pretty freaking awesome too :) I'll recap my trip in a later post because there's so much cool stuff!


For those of you playing along at home:
1.) Disney World, or Disney Land?
2.) Best birthday memory?
3.) Favorite race experience?

Sweet, sweet success...marathon #6, state #6

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ready or not...

...I run a marathon on Sunday!

Last year, I thought training for and running Boston was a challenge because I had to training through the winter and hope that March wasn't gross. But then April rolls along and usually feels super spring-like for enough time that you aren't afraid of running for 3.5 hours in shorts with your winterfresh legs on display.

This marathon is NOT the same. November (with the exception of Thanksgiving) and December have both been pretty mild in the Midwest. (I *was* running in shorts on Christmas Eve!) This week, however, Indiana has been in the icy grip of an arctic blast this lots of treadmill time and a frantic (but successful!) attempt to sneak into Lambert yesterday morning.

My poor tender flesh is not ready for the heat (or the humidity...oh the humidity) of an Orlando morning. CoRec running is my feeble attempt at heat acclimization, so we'll see how that works out for me. They had wind chill warnings issued for Disney/Orlando this week and I just kept thinking about why it couldn't be just a little teensy tiny bit cooler for marathon morning, but whatever. I've put in the training and that's all I can do (besides rock my sparkle skirt and crush the hopes and dreams of many future Mousketeers).

I walked at commencement and was hooded as a PhD. What am I going to do now!

I'm going to DISNEY WORLD (after I run the WDW Marathon)!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015

The start of a new year provides a handy excuse to wrap up your life in neat boxes and check things off lists. Here we go with my resolutions/goals for 2014:
  • I'm going to run the Boston Marathon. Yup! 3:28, and it was totally a spectacular time, both on the course and with friends in Boston. Can't wait to run again in 2015 :)
  • I'm going to graduate from Purdue University with a PhD. Sigh. So close! I did walk at commencement though...
  • I'm going to get a job. It will be an awesome job. I will love it. Not quite, but I am currently applying for positions!
  • I'm going to enjoy running and throw myself into this with gusto. ABSOLUTELY! I had a phenomenal winter/spring training and racing season and took a break from marathons to focus on my speed this summer/fall.
  • I'm going to update this blog at least twice a month so y'all can follow the adventures of me and my fuzzy cat :) Check! Fuzzy cat is getting fuzzier and I had some amusing posts :)
  • I'm going to use my fear of the unknown to my advantage - pink cheeks, new life experiences, letting go of total control over all the things...I will be a stronger person for all the emotional adversity I experienced and I will know what I want and who I am and how to use my strengths and weaknesses to my advantage. Absolutely (again!)

2014 will be my year. And it was most definitely a good one...

That said, 2015 is already shaping up to be better than 2014 was! The Canadian and I rang in the New Year at Howl at the Moon in Chicago, I'm going to run the Walt Disney World marathon on January 11, a pretty awesome trip for Spring Break is (kinda) in the works, I have a schedule that I feel good about to get my defense and dissertation FINISHED, I'm going to run Boston again (and then run Big Sur six days later...), and I'm going to FINISH my PhD. That gets me to mid-May.

After that?

No idea :)

I do know that I am so happy. I have wonderful friends and so many people who are incredibly supportive and positive and can always make me smile :) No official goals (besides the school ones!) or resolutions for 2015. I just want to stay happy and healthy. Maybe that will involve killer margaritas, finally getting a Canada stamp in my passport, or teaching Mannie to peacefully coexist with other cats. Maybe it will involve moving to a totally unknown place to start a brand-new job that I'm not sure I'm ready for (even if the people who hired me are totally confident). Maybe it will involve reading a book for fun each month, stopping to take more pictures, or baking cookies for my friends, just because.


For those of you playing along at home:
1.) What is a little thing that always makes you happy?
2.) How did you ring in 2015?
3.) Do you actually know the words to 'Auld Lang Syne'?

Merry New Year!