Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Was I Brave in 2008?

As I've noted before I don't tend to make resolutions to start the New Year, however, this year I did. I made one and that was to be more brave and take chances that I normally wouldn't.

I traveled a lot in 2008. From Vietnam and Thailand to LA to NYC, St. Louis, D.C. and Las Vegas. I traveled with many differnet people and to places in which I was out of my comfort zone be it because it was a foriegn country or because I was traveling with people I had never traveled with before, which I think is brave. It's not always easy to travel alone across seas or with others and I learned a lot about myself and my travel companions on each trip.

In 2008 I ran. A lot. I signed up for a marathon which took more guts than I can even explain - and that was just clicking "register" on the online form. Little did I know that the training that was going to follow took a lot of bravery. I ran on my own, for hours and hours at a time and I logged several miles out on the roads of Beloit. Each morning that I got out of bed and put my running shoes on required me to be brave. To push my body to go distances I dread driving let alone running. To do something that I never, in my wildest dreams could have imagined.

Running the actual marathon scared the hell out of me. Would I finish? Would I die? Could I handle this huge task on my own? Would I make it to the start line in time because the lines for the bathrooms were so long? I was nervous. Running over the Mississippi for the first time (of 4 that I would cross it) I took a deep breath and told myself to be brave. I was, and I finished and I didn't die and I can't wait to do another.

I moved out of my lovely apartment and back in with the 'rents. Now, while I love my parents (Hi mom and dad!) it was a very hard, brave adjustment to pack up my boxes and move back home. I'm saving some money and this is allowing me to figure things out - what I want to do and where I want to go and for that I'm thankful, however, leaving my comfort zone took a lot of bravery.

I met a lot of interesting people in 2008. People who have had a major impact on my life and with all of them, I had to be a little bit brave - be it slipping someone my phone number or saying hello, or just letting my guard down; it took some bravery on my part and with all the people that have come into my life this year, it was worth it. I learned from all of them and the relationships and friendships I've had with them all mean so very much to me.

I took my niece on a day long outing - to work. That was VERY brave of me. Now granted, she's like the best kid in the world, but one never knows how the day of a two year old is going to go. However, she hung out at the capitol and saw the Christmas tree and even took a nap! She was amazing, and it was well worth being brave.

While I haven't jumped out of a plane or climbed a mountain or went running with the bulls I think I stuck to my resolution and was pretty brave this year...

Did anyone else make New Years resolutions? Did you keep them? Any thoughts for 2009?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If Not Interesting, at Least Entertaining!

So I was tagged by my friend Ann to write 6 "interesting" things about me, thanks to her for thinking I have good stories!!

On my way to work this morning I was thinking about this as I listened to the XM Jazz channel and drank Starbucks from a RED cup (which, if you don't know, I love the red cups, they make me happy). Anyway, my diagnosis was that while I may not be overly interesting, I do put myself into interesting situations that give me some entertaining stories. So, here we go (oh, and since I don't really have anyone to "tag" I'm going to do more than 6 things...).

  • I broke my toe while swimming in a waterfall in Australia. We were camping in the Outback which was just like "Survivor" except we had really yummy food, a guide, tents and sleeping bags, so you know...it was really nothing like "Survivor" it's just fun to pretend.

  • I have a weird fear of wax people. When I was 5 we lived in Texas for the summer and on our way back to WI we stopped at a wax museum, which I thought (at the time) was super cool. Until, I had a reoccurring nightmare (seriously, I had it as recently as a couple years ago) that I was locked behind glass at a wax museum and my parents walk by saying "we used to have a daughter that looked like that. I wonder what happened to her" - I then proceed to bang on the glass and cry for my parents and they leave and I'm left with the creepy wax people, who if I am real they could be too. Yes, the wax people are not my friends.

  • I was once offered cocaine by a porn "star" while she was peeing in the bathroom of the Hollywood "IT" bar of the moment. For the record, I politely declined. That was probably one of the weirdest nights I had while in LA.

  • In college Ryan Longwell (when he was a Green Bay Packer) was gracious enough to let me interview him about Leadership for a paper I had to write. He was fantastic and let me have some time with him for a really nice chat, took a picture with me, signed an autograph and a few months later, he came into Office Depot (where I worked through college) and asked me how I did on my paper, I then sold him a fax machine and a couple years later he sold out on the Packers to go to the Vikings.

  • I saved William Shatner's seat at Comedy Central's Last Laugh 2004. We had amazing free seats but 2 of us from our group had to move because that's where Shatner was sitting after he was done with his opening routine. I said I would go, but, got to stay for awhile and sit next to his lovely wife (not the one who drowned) and when he was done, he thanked me for saving it. When he and his wife left at intermission, he walked passed me and told me to go take my seat back. So now I'm a Treky - just kidding. But, I am a huge fan of Priceline.

  • I have an uncanny sense of direction. This was proved when a certain someone left me in a super sketch outdoor bar in Pattaya, Thailand at 3 am and I had to walk back to our hotel without knowing where I was to start, or which direction the hotel was, oh and I may or may not have had a few alcoholic beverages it was FUN and INTERESTING. However, like always I found my way. Needless to say, he got yelled at for that one, big time.

  • I've been able to do a lot of interesting travel: Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, a good chunk of the 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Grand Cayman, Jamacia...All of which come with great fun and some pretty good stories...I also have a list of places I want to go and it's quite extensive. Some of my favorite trips though were driving to and from LA with my grandpa, amazing scenery, lots of stories and really special times with him! I'm dying to do something like that again soon!

  • I have a "bucket list" of things to do before I'm 30 - the list includes sky diving, canoeing the boundary waters, learn french, and become adept at some form of dancing. These are some of the things that are not yet checked of. I need to kick some butt in the next year and a half!

  • When I was 13, the Beloit YMCA sent me to "World Camp" in Michigan with a group from Milwaukee. I was the youngest one in the group by about 3 years but managed to fit right in and have an amazing 2 week adventure, camping, canoeing, hiking, hanging out on Mackinac Island, and meeting really cool people from all over the world. As a side note, the night before I left, I had friends over and we made pizza and because I'm kind of a slob I dropped a glop of piping hot cheese on my chin and got a nasty burn - what a great first impression!

  • In grad school I won a grant to travel to Portland, OR (which is an amazing city) for the Western Political Science Conference. I was also a TA and that yielded some great stories.
So how it's supposed to go is I'm supposed to "tag" people to be "it" so that they can share interesting stories about them. However, my loyal readers have I think already been tagged, unless Chris hasn't - and if not, I'm tagging you Hankins! However, as much as I stalk blogs I don't really have anyone else to tag (because I'm a STALKER, I don't really KNOW them!). So, if you blog stalk me and have one of your own, feel free to do this - it's kind of fun!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


So, I'm kind of a blog stalker. I love reading blogs, in fact, it's my morning routine to check all kinds of blogs, mostly of people I don't know.

A few of my friends write blogs and I so enjoy catching up what's going on in their lives, but I've branched out to blogs they read, written by people they know and I don't, and from there I continue. It's interesting to read about what kind of daily lives other people lead.

I've found lots of runner blogs and blogs about yoga, and blogs just about every day life and I love reading what these people have to say. They all seem to lead more interesting lives than I do - or at least have more to write about than I do lately.

Maybe it's a little weird that I take the time to see what people who I don't know are saying, but I think it's fun to read something different or come across a really fantastic writer. Amen for the internets (ha ha).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nothing Better Than a New Pair of Shoes

I got a new pair of shoes yesterday - Asics 2140's and they're lovely. They're grey and blue and green and they even have a super cute, funky design on the inside. They make me motivated to get off my butt (which has been getting a lot of use in the sitting position lately).

Although I have yet to take them out for a run, I wore them for a work out (where we ran lots of stair laps) and they were delightful. It's fun to get a new pair of running shoes - and it's pretty routine about every three months for me.

I officially retired the latest pair, the pair that got me through the marathon and had a whole lot of miles on them. I know I'm a big dork, but it's kind of sad retiring an old pair of shoes. Especially ones that got me through such a huge event in my life. But, like my new car, I'm ready for new adventure and lots more miles on the new pair.

The Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis is on Saturday in Janesville. Last year Paula, Melinda and I ran it and it's a nice run but I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to bear the cold and potential snow this year - and that makes me a total wuss, but whatever. Anyone game to run it with me?? I need a little motivation!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas in the Capitol

The capitol smells like pine today and this morning when I walked in, there was a huge tree laying on the rotunda floor ready to be put up.

The dragging in of the capitol Christmas tree is one of my favorite events and I missed it this year. It takes several people and a lot of rigging to get the thing through the door and is usually pretty entertaining.
It's up now though, and over the next several days it will be decorated with ornaments made from kids around the state. Last year Beloit kids had their handiwork displayed. It's always fun to see what they come up with. Cheeseheads, badgers, Packer helmets, and all things Wisconsin usually fill the branches.

Christmas is such a fun time of year in the building. Bands and choirs come in over the lunch hour and preform fun holiday music, the tree is always beautiful and there's lots of merriment around before we have to buckle down and start a new session in January.

If anyone is in Madison anytime soon, stop in and see the tree and come say hi!

Monday, November 17, 2008

What a Weekend

First thing's first - I got a new car this weekend. It's a two door, 2009 Chevy Cobalt in a really cool, dark metallic-ish blue color that I am loving. And, while I'm sure that I will love this car as much as I loved my other, it was a little sad to leave my silver Saturn looking all lonley without any license plates in the dealership parking lot.

The Saturn and I have been through a lot together - we've gone on lots of fun times together and it's sad to see it go.

My new car doesn't have the bumps and bruises that the Saturn came to have - all of which had good stories. Like the scratches on the bumper? Those were from the time I got rear ended in LA while stopped at a stop light because the girl behind me didn't see we were all stopped. Right on Hollywood Blvd.

The square indentation on the front bumper? That was from running into Chuck's truck while stopped at the Taco Bell drive through - because I wasn't paying attention. Minnesota Mike was with me for both of those.

The Saturn was with me through my time in LA and for that sole purpose it's sad to leave it behind. It's like really closing a chapter in my life. The last 6 + years with that car have been interesting. Now, it's time to put some miles on my new car!

Which, I started with by traveling to Green Bay on Sunday to watch the Packers beat the Bears. It was a fantastic day and a friend from college went with me. We tailgated and made eggs and bacon on the gril as we froze! It was fun to catch up - it's always fun to me - and interesting to see how easily you can pick up with some people and just feel like no time has passed and you're comfortable with each other.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yeah, I've been busy

So I just realized that I haven't written ANYTHING in a couple of weeks, which really isn't a shocker...I've been a little busy...creating change in some places and ensuring no change in others (aka making sure I continue to have a job).

I'm not going to go into how awesome I think the election turned out - but I will say that my boss killed with 67% of the vote - for that I am thankful (because you know, I still have a job).

Now that the election is over, my focus is on getting a county budget passed and once that is done tomorrow, my life will get less crazy - meaning that I may be able to go to yoga classes and read a book, and get my Christmas shopping done. YAY for that!

I'm so excited to read again - not that I haven't read anything over the last couple months, but yeah, I really haven't. I have however, been carrying around "My Life on the Run" by Bart Yasso - that talks about his running adventures around the world. I have read a couple of chapters and it's going to be great, I can tell. AND I have TWO Runner's World magazines to read and a Women's Health (ok, these don't count as substantial reading, but they're fun) - I CAN'T wait!!

If anyone has any good book suggestions, throw them my way!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Simple Things

I've always been a simple girl - or at least one who's easily amused and finds joy in very simple things. Little things make me happy or get me excited and every new experience, and even things I've done before have this amazing effect on me (ok, so side note - for the last 5 min. I've been debating about effect vs. affect and while I think I used the right one here I always have a hard time with that).

50 things (out of many many more) that make me happy (and I promise they won't ALL be food nor will they be in any particular order):

1. Laffy Taffy (banana especially, but I'm an equal opportunity laffy taffy eater) - I also totally crack up at the jokes that are written by grade schoolers.

2. Nerds Ropes - ok, really, an incredible Wonka creation (God bless that man)

3. The crackle of fallen leaves

4. The smell of fall - crisp air and burning leaves

5. New school supplies - I always LOVED this as I kid, new pens and pencils and fresh notebooks, new bottles of glue - I always packed them all in a new backpack the night before the first day.

6. The Apple Hut - Fritz's fresh out of the hopper apple doughnuts are to die for. I love walking through the trees and sneaking an apple and picking out pumpkins...

7. Yoga pants, a sweatshirt and ballet flats make me really happy

8. Flip flops - which is one of the reasons I loved living in Cali so much - I could wear them year round!

9. Canoe trips with lots of friends and even more beer

10. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches - with strawberry jelly

11. Quaint downtowns with fun little shops and old buildings

12. Christmas lights and singing Christmas carols - even more so because they bug my sister

13. Hot Chocolate with peppermint schnapps

14. I can't resist smiling at pandas, dolphins, orangutans, chimps, koalas and wombats. Baby animals of all kinds that look cuddly make me happy.

15. I think pigs are pretty awesome. I would love to play with them in the mud.

16. Travel - by plane, train, or automobile; if I'm going somewhere, I'm happy.

17. Southern Utah - probably my favorite scenic place in the U.S. - Zion National Forrest and Brice Canyon are really incomparable to much - even the Grand Canyon in my book.

18. Running - nothing beats putting on the running shoes - when I run I think - about everything, I day dream, I answer my own questions and am very introspective.

19. Swimming - When I jump in a pool to do laps my brain quiets and I am very meditative like.

20. Yoga

21. My niece - while my entire family makes me happy, my niece is the most amazing person in the world. I can have the worst day ever and I just look at her and nothing matters - she makes me smile and totally cracks me up. She is the coolest kid who continues to blow me away with how smart and funny she is.

22. Chai tea lattes

23. Green tea, especially in late afternoon when it gets really cold in the office

24. Sea shells - I love picking them up and looking at how different each one is from the next. They make me think of my mom, who always collects shells and of my grandpa who was rather creative in using them.

25. Peanut M&M's - yeah, we all knew that would make the list. However, I do love the Yellow M guy - he's quirky and funny.

26. Art - and while not all of it makes me happy, most art can move me - inspire me, make me think, make me smile, sometimes make me a little sad, but that it can move me in any way makes me happy.

27. Getting my hair did - yes, I just wrote that - I love spending time at the salon, it's great downtime and I happen to love my stylist. And, I feel like a whole new woman after I get my hair cut and colored - even if it's the same

28. Big hoop earrings

29. Shoe stores - just being in one brings me sheer delight. But trying them on and buying a new pair makes me giddy!

30. My friends - while they really don't fall below flips flops, peanut m&ms or laffy taffy I should mention them now. I have this amazing, core group of people in my life who I appreciate so much. Some live down the street from me, others across town or in different WI cities, and still others across the country and some in remote areas around the world - I have been able to depend on these people when I need them the most, trust them with secrets and have more fun with them than any normal person should have. They are more than my friends, they are family and without them I could not be the person I am.

31. California - northern, southern, and everything in between. I am truly a "California Girl" and an "LA Woman" at heart

32. The Ocean

33. Movie theater popcorn

34. Packer football at Lambeau Field - I still swear that everyone should try to see a game there sometime - even if you're not a Packer fan! The history is incredible and it's such a fun time.

35. Gossip magazines

36. A good bottle of wine - a cab or a pinot noir - and ok, I'll be honest, even a crappy bottle of wine can make me smile. But the good stuff? It really makes me happy.

37. A baseball game on a perfect summer afternoon with a beer and a hot dog

38. Reading, I love to have my head buried in a book

39. Rainy days with nothing to do but stay in bed and read, nap, and write in my journal

40. My journal - it has become this amazing thing for me over the last year - I love writing and I love finding things to put in it - inspiring quotes, pictures, etc.

41. S'mores - even more so if made over an open fire while camping

42. The beach - I love sand in my toes and playing in the water, having a margarita, reading a book, ahh...the perfect day!

43. REAL Christmas trees - while I haven't had a real one since I was in college, I love the smell of them and putting them up and decorating (I love that about a fake tree too, but there's something that I really enjoy about a REAL one).

44. Hockey rinks - the game itself makes me happy, but being in a rink and the smell of the ice and the sound of skates on it really makes me smile.

45. Pictures. My own especially, but I love looking at other people's pictures, hearing about trips or people in them. I love taking pictures so to be able to capture and keep so many memories, and I can look at them over and over.

46. Massages

47. The first heavy snowfall. When the snow sticks to everything and it's a beautiful winter wonderland. (then I'm pretty much done with it!).

48. Thanksgiving - I think that this is my favorite holiday - you get to hang out with the fam, eat yummy food, take naps, watch football and unlike Christmas, you don't have the pressure of trying to find the perfect gift for everyone.

49. Coffee - let me drink it in an adorable little coffee shop and it's even better.

50. Flowers - while I love being the recipient of an awesome bouquet of flowers, I just love looking at them in people's gardens, in parks, etc. The Capitol always has an awesome display of something going on.

I could go on for days, and may continue to add to this list, but it's fun to think about the little things that can make you smile. It doesn't take grand efforts to make me happy and I appreciate that about myself. I like that I can find happiness in the small things...

Monday, October 20, 2008

A year of running coming to a close

A year ago today, October 20th I ran my very first "official" 5K ever - the Y's annual Fall Classic. On Saturday, October 18th I ran it again to close out my first year of running.

As I walked into the crowd to find my place towards the middle of the pack, I started to think about what a whirlwind the last year has been. And I know I've done a lot of reflecting on that (ok, a ton, I know it's all I talk about) but it has been a huge deal for me - a long time (26 ish years) non runner.

So instead of boring you with the details once again on how my life has totally changed and I'm this new/not so new person, blah blah blah...I'll talk about how the runs were different because you know, that will be exciting!

A year ago I had to walk a portion of the race. I couldn't run the whole thing. This year, it was cake (well, not really because I was still pretty sore...but you know, I can run 3.1 miles with ease now).

A year ago I wore really crappy adidas not for running tennis shoes, because it's what I had. This year, I wore my top of the line, super sweet, got me through a marathon asics.

A year ago the hill on Moccisan killed me - it sucked hard. This year I commanded it. It's my hill. It's the hill that I ran several times a week during training and let's be honest, it's not the Bayliss Bitch - that hill is mean.

Last year as I ran I reflected on what it took to get me to that point, and I cried when I finished. This year I reflected on my past year of running and all the things I have accomplished, and I cried when I finished. So, you know, whatever, I'm a baby.

Last year I finished in 33:16 and got 2nd place in my age group. This year I finished in 30:13 (my slowest 5K time since this race last year!!) and I got 2nd place in my age group.

A year ago, a girl threw up in front of me - before she made it to the finish line, so I ran around her and didn't bother to see if she was ok. Which, may make me mean, but I was focused and well...this year, no throwing up - thank goodness!!

So, this week starts a new running year and I am SO looking forward to cool races in fun places! Bring on the running!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Kids on the Block...had a bunch of hits

Chinese food makes me sick, and I think it's fly when girls stop by for the summer, for the summer...
Ok, so I like quoting LFO (one hit wonder) Summer Girls when I start to talk about the New Kids on the Block - I just can't help it.

The second that Mary found out the NKOTB was touring again she was sending out emails to get people to come to the show in Chicago - actually she was pleading to find anyone with an AMEX because they got priority purchasing. Thankfully, she found someone willing to buy and 6 of us were willing to go. Thanks to her SO much for coordinating an AMAZING time!

I saw the NKOTB for the first time when I was in 4th grade in Alpine Valley with my parents and the Davis family. It was a HUGE deal for me. I was in love with Jordan Knight and thought that the NKOTB was the greatest boy band ever - and I still, to this day, believe that. Especially after Saturday night!!

Mary preped us by sending the NKOTB Greatest Hits and their new album The Block (which is actually really amazing). So, for the last few weeks before the concert I had been rocking out to Hangin' Tough and Step by Step and all my other old favorites while learning the words to their new songs.

I went to Chicago on Friday night and got to Mary's and broke out the tee shirts and puffy paint - we were doin' this show up right. Mary, Angie and I decked out shirts for all of us girls and watched the 1990 VHS tape of the kids - a couple of times!

Saturday morning, while drinking coffee, we watched VH1 "episodes" of interviews with the NKOTB talking about their old songs and their new ones and watching all of the music videos - like 30 of them in total. It was all New Kids all the time and it was FUN.

When Leslie, Steph, and Tami showed up the giddy-ness was on and we suddenly transformed into crazy teenagers.

The show was amazing - and I have never seen an arena full of 28 - 35 year old women screaming like they were 4th graders seeing their favorite boy band for the very first time. And man, was that cool.

The Kids - yeah, they're not kids anymore. They've all aged extremely well and are smokin' hot. And even though they're pushing 40, they've absolutely still got the right stuff - they can still sing and most importantly they can still dance!

I lost my voice - screaming and singing - and had the best time! And, I'm still admiting that I heart the NKOTB!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I survived 26.2 and I can't wait to do another one!!!

I packed up my multiple bags on Saturday morning getting ready for the drive to Iowa and I made sure to wear my running shoes so I would not forget them! (Thank you Chris Hankins for being my reminder...) I packed two pairs of running capris, cold weather gear, hot weather gear, like 4 pairs of socks, a jar of peanut butter, many bananas, clif bars and GUs, and an extra pair of shoes just in case I had a tragedy with the ones I was wearing...I was ready to go and a little nervous!

I rode with my parents, sister and niece and tried my best to zone out on the 2 hour ride, unfortunately, traveling with a 2 year old means constant entertainment that you don't want to miss, so there was no zoning out for me and many rounds of camp songs...

My grandparents and aunt Beth were at the hotel when we arrived and it was so nice of them to join in the festivities!!

Liz, Katie and I met up and headed to get race packets for Katie and I, check out some of the route, and browse around the expo. It was so nice of Liz to make the trip (and for Nicholl, Chris, and Katie's mom to come too!!) - Katie and I had awesome cheerleaders throughout the race!

I vegged out in my hotel room thinking about what I've been through in the last year and how amazing it is that I was even at this point - going to be at the starting line of a marathon in the morning! It was only a year ago this October when I ran my first "official" 5K and now here I was, going to attempt a marathon.

I was really done being nervous by Saturday and just ready to get the show on the road. There was nothing more I could do to prepare, so now it was just a matter of going out there, doing my best and seeing where it would take me!

My parents took Katie and I to the start line and we decided we should go to the bathroom before hand. A word to all of the race planners out there - if you have an event with 2,500 runners - you should probably have more than 10 bathrooms at the start/finish line...just a thought!!

Anyway, as most of you know I have a bit of an obsession with being late for things. 5 min. early equals late to me - it drives me nuts and I get a little crazy. However, the race did not start with out me and I was able to make it into the bathroom which was awesome since I didn't want to have to stop on the route! (I know that you were all dying to hear about my bathroom issues for the day!)

Katie and I squeezed into the crowd in between the 4:15 and the 4:30 pace groups as we started out - crossing the Mississippi river for the first of 4 times. I was feeling awesome and stayed between those pacing groups for about 18 miles. I fell back a little bit - with the 4:30 group and chatted with the pacer who had completed 24 marathons and a couple of Ultras (50 milers)!

The first 20 miles could not have been better - I felt amazing, I had awesome notes from people with things to think about - and think I did! It was an emotional roller coaster for me though - at times feeling that this was totally absurd and laughing to having mini melt downs with tears that I didn't want to expend for fear of dehydrating, but they came anyway and it was ok. It was part of the experience. It was a wide range of emotion but I never once felt like I hated it or like I wanted to stop and that in itself was awesome.

Coming across the Mississippi for the last time at mile 20 I saw my family and I don't know if they'll ever really understand how much I needed them at that point - or how much I needed my dad to walk out onto the course and give me a high five - it was awesome and it gave me a boost of endurance - that lasted you know until mile 21.

People have said that the last 6.2 miles of a marathon are the hardest. You train up to 20 miles, if you're lucky to get it in (which thank God I was!) so you know what it feels like to run for a long time, but nothing but running an entire marathon will prepare you for the hell that you face at mile 21.

I'm not even joking, at the mile marker, my right foot cramped up and then my right calf just tightened to the point where I had to stop and stretch it out. I walked a little ways and then would run until my foot cramped again and I continued this run/walk theme through out the rest of the race. I didn't feel bad about it though because it seemed to be a common theme with people all around me.

Those last 6.2 miles I focused on nothing but getting to the finish line. I was hell bent on getting there as fast as I could without injuring myself or having to crawl. I wanted to run across that line and do it with as much strength as possible.

The last 3 miles I started chatting with a guy who has run marathons before and even did an Iron Man in Brazil once and he really helped me get through. I hope he knows how much I appreciated him. He could have left me in the dust, but he stayed with me and would run with me as far as I determined and then walk for a little while and we ran the last .2 miles in.

As I crossed the finish line I thought I was going to cry and have all this emotion since I went through it all during the route - but I didn't. I laughed. And I hugged my family (I think my mom took all the emotion from me as she was sobbing!). And I said I was ready to do another one, and I am! I'm looking forward to checking out my options and doing it all over again.

My official chip time was 4:41:45 - not the 4:30 I was thinking I would hit, but ultimately, timing didn't matter for this one. I achieved my goals. I finished. I didn't die. I want to do it again.

A big thanks for all the support everyone has given me through this last year and especially in this last month as it came to be crunch time. I could not have done this without the support of my awesome friends and family...

Monday, September 22, 2008

DC (Area) Reflections - Finally!

I spent September 9 - 12 in Alexandria, VA attending a conference on Disproportional Minority Contact (DMC) in the Juvenile Justice System, as the Chair of the DMC ad hoc Committee for Rock County.

I'll forgo the big discussion of DMC issues for now, but it'll be coming soon, as it is a VERY interesting subject matter - one Rock County is on the forefront of addressing.

Instead I'll entertain you with all of the fun happenings of the week (it's much more fun to talk about non important social things anyway, right?!?).

After arriving in VA on Tuesday afternoon, I hopped the Metro up to DC and had dinner at a delightful Tapas place called Oyamel in DC with an old friend from college. It was so great to catch up with Becky about her amazing policy job with Planned Parenthood and about the fun things she is getting to do around the city and some reminiscing about the old times.

It sometimes seems funny to me how easily I can navigate DC - I will say that it is a VERY easy one to navigate but I haven't been there in a few years and can still manage to walk in the right direction - and get on the right Metro, even when trying to find something I don't really know the location of. I'd like to thank my father for my amazingly good sense of direction.

After dinner I met up with some of the guys I traveled with from Rock County and a friend of one who lives in VA. I was amazed at how hard it was to find a bar that was open past midnight there - now granted it was a Tuesday night, but HELLO, we're from Wisconsin where the bars are open until 2 am 7 days a week!!

We managed ok and I sang bad karaoke and drank way too many gin and tonics followed by an end of the night tequila shot which was just a really bad choice. I certainly do not have the tolerance for alcohol that I used to have and ending the night with tequila was not a good decision on my part. However, it was a GREAT time - you know, until the next morning.

I really love to eat when I'm on vacation - and in places that we don't have access to in Wisconsin and I had some good food on this trip. Our "data guy" and I had amazing Indian food one night, and the Mexican food that Becky and I ate was awesome. One of the nights we had dinner on the conference and had some awesome crab cakes (they were really in balls though) and amazing bruschetta, and the best chicken wings ever, great fruit every day and lunch one day was amazing salmon and turkey and fresh veggies. It was a great food week.

It was fun to get to know a couple of the guys that are working on DMC in Rock County a little better and they're all great and have really good ideas about the issue and for our county.

I also met some very interesting people - some from the DMC network, a couple of locals, and a really cool SoCal man (and just an FYI, when you're totally adorable, from SoCal, and amazingly fun and funny, I swoon...there will be more on him later too...I hope...)

Anyway, it was a great trip with lots of fun intertwined with a really good conference. I learned a lot and I'm really excited to move forward with this project in Rock County.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What a Way to Start a New Year

28. Seems a little crazy to me. Not scary, just a little strange and I can't pin point why. However, if the rest of my year as a 28 year old goes the way it has started, I'm in for a rockin' good time (yes, I just wrote rockin' good time, I'm apparently channeling the olden days lately).

I started my birthday out with a 20 mile run - what a way to start the day. It was a pretty solid run minus a foot cramp around mile 18 that I've never experienced before. good note to self to keep breaking in my new shoes and hydrate a little better. My time was great, even with the cramping incident and I'm ready to kick some marathon ass.

Some friends and I headed to Milwaukee for a great dinner at Fratellos and a trip to my favorite 3rd Ward bar where, as I walked up to the bar, I had a signature birthday drink ready for me. I have no idea what was in it, but it was green and edgy and a little bit sassy - a drink that had my name written all over it.

The rest of the night was followed by many more drinks in the form of gin and tonics (Brenda recently filled me in on a study that noted there was good potassium content in these - so really I was just helping alleviate the foot cramps...), fun shots, crazy dancing, lots of laughing and a nice walk back to our hotel.

It's always so much fun to get people together, especially to celebrate, and this was a great celebration! I'm looking forward to many more nights like this one for sure!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reflections on 27

So I know I did the whole big post filled with lots of picture reminders about what my 27th year was all about but I think I need one final reflection as I say goodbye to 27 today and hello to 28 tomorrow.

I've learned that people come and go into your life that either make you a better person or make you learn something about yourself, both of which in the long run are equally appreciated.

I've learned that it's ok to be strong and stand up for what you want. And while I've always tried to do this, I've realized that I'm sometimes too much of a people pleaser and in the long run am not really making myself happy. I have opinions, strong ones, ones that I need to share. I know what I want and I need to make it known.

I'm learning to be comfortable in my (new) skin. That I'm really great just the way I am and sure there will always be things that I don't love about my body but I know that right now, I can be happy with what I have to work with.

I'm learning to accept compliments without an addendum. I don't need to say "thank you, but" I can accept the fact that I'm doing something well and be proud of that. Which is easier said than done sometimes.

I've learned that people change. People grow and learn and move forward and sometimes the people that you thought you would always move forward with are not the ones that end up by your side.

I've learned that I can push my limits. I can test myself - both physically and mentally. I'm strong and I will adapt - I can, I will and most importantly, I am able.

I've learned that tough times don't last, no matter what tough challenge is put in front of me, "this too shall pass" and I will make it out on the other side a better, stronger person than I was before.

I worked my ass off (both literally and figuratively) in the past year. I've had some major accomplishments both personally and professionally. I've also had a lot of tough things to get through and while I'm still working on some things, I am completely ready as this new/not so new person to take on 28, kick a little ass as a tough woman and do it with style.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

LA Woman

I love LA - everything about it really - including the smog and the traffic. The second I step outside of LAX I take a deep breath and know that I'm home. Even more so when I'm behind the wheel of a car with the windows down, a little Bob Marley in the cd player, cruising down the 405.

I recently had a whirlwind weekend in LA with my friend Rachel, who had never been to my glorious city, so I was excited to show it off. And show it off I did.

We seemed to hit everything of importance, including the beach twice in three days, ate at some amazing places, saw all of my friends (if only for a little while here and there it was great!), saw a couple of her friends AND managed to do some hard core yoga at Maha Yoga with the "main man" himself, Steve Ross. Dance Club music filled the small space, as well as about 60 students with mats stacked upon one another and it was the most intense fun I've had in a "yoga" class. My abs still feel the work we did. And while I'm still a major fan of Iyengar yoga, and my lovely Brenda, this class would be an awesome thing to wake up to everyday!

Saturday was beautiful and we spent a few hours on the beach in Santa Monica body surfing, jumping the waves and just relaxing. It's been awhile since I've actually been in the ocean since most of my LA trips come when it's too cold but this was heaven. I always "feel small when I stand beside the ocean" as the song goes. Even more so when I'm in it. It's a great place to remember how big the world is and how small you and your troubles really are in comparison with bigger things that surround us. While in grad school, the beach would be my escape. I often went by myself to think and study and just be. It's hard to really explain the effect that the ocean has on me but it's unlike anything else. I feel at peace with myself and my world...it's kind of like running!

This was my end to summer, and in my dramatic fashion, it was a great way to say goodbye to summer and to start looking forward to fall.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm Just Saying...

I seriously want to make out with Forrest Mars Sr. you know, if he hadn't died in 1999. He is the absolute genious behind the peanut m&m and therefore I love him. I'm currently having a torrid love affair with his product.

Here's an interesting history of the m&m:


Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts

I like to think I'm a little bit of both - although my sister may tend to disagree. While I have not been "in the middle of it all" I have seen things, and frankly my street smarts tell me when to get the hell out of the way so that I'm not sucked into "the middle of it all" but they also tell me that we have big problems in the world that need to be addressed, which is my book smart way of thinking.

For example I can read about homelessness and tell you statistics on the subject and the people who are homeless but I've never experienced it, so it must mean that I don't really understand it.

However, I do understand that a homeless man on Rodeo Drive of all places, screaming at me, telling me he will blow my f'ing head off is probably mentally ill and needs more help than the crumpled dollar in his used McDonalds coffee cup will get him...he needs services, counseling, drugs - and not the kind he's used to. He probably needs to detox and he certainly could use a shower, a hot meal and some clean clothes.

And that's when book smarts meet street smarts. I think that the more data you can collect while providing people with services - going out onto the streets and talking to people, getting their story, finding out what got them to the place that they're in (which you have to have street smarts to do) - will help you develop programs and services that will ultimately solve problems.

I'm not saying that data is magic or that collecting it is easy. I just wish that there was some understanding that numbers aren't just pulled out of thin air (unless you're doing the most unscientific study in the world). People are out there in "the middle of it all" asking questions and gathering information, turning it into data and studying it - looking at trends and anomalies and coming up with solutions to put to use in the real world.

And, sometimes those solutions that we come up with on paper don't work "in the middle of it all" so you make changes until something sticks. The truth of the matter is that you don't really know how something is going to work until you implement it. Will giving a homeless person $100,000 to buy a home solve their problem? They wouldn't be homeless anymore right? Or would helping them with any AODA issues they have, teaching them job skills and interview skills among other things help more? You have to look at the data to see.

Numbers and people interpreting those numbers - the "book smart" people don't always have the answers and I firmly believe it's why you have to coordinate with the people that have "street smarts" to really start addressing some tough issues and finding solutions. Maybe I'm optimistic though.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some Fun Numbers

485.33 - the number of miles I have run since January (there may be a few I've missed because of laziness in recording in January/Feb.).

122.75 - the number of miles I have run in August alone...and we're not done yet people!

3 - the number of months that I have run over 100 miles in the month (I've read that sentence like 17 times and I'm still not sure if it makes sense. I'm sure my editor Jake will let me know...)

20,591 - the number of stairs I have climbed since June 2nd - which means I need to get kicking some stair butt so that I can get my "Mt. McKinley" challenge done at the Y (29,380 total stairs) before August 31st.

5 - the number of 5K races I have run

1 - the number of 8K races I have run

27:11 - my personal best in the 5K

3 hours, 22 min. - the amount of time my last run took (19.14 miles)

2 - the number of Snapper games I have gone to this summer - which makes me sad, they're always so fun!

12 - the number of times I have moved in my "adult" life (that does include a few moves to and from Green Bay, to and from Los Angeles and my current move) - you'd think I'd be good at it by now...I'm not.

8 - the number of books I have read since June

0 - (and this is NOT a joke) - the number of shoe purchases I have made since June (Ok, I SERIOUSLY have to go shoe shopping...Off Broadway on Sunset Blvd here I come!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sometimes I Argue With the Voices In My Head

Don't get all scared that I'm like Sybil or something, but today I had some rather large arguments with myself - all in my head of course, because as much as I think it's normal to sing out loud when I run, I draw the line at arguing with myself. I mean a girl's gotta draw a line somewhere right?

I ran 17.04 miles on Sunday. In 2:58:08. It's a little over a 10 min. mile, which I'm not all that excited about, but I need to slow down a little on my long runs. However, that's neither here nor there, the point is, I ran for like 3 hours and didn't complain once. In fact, I enjoyed it. A lot.

However, today, I had to argue with myself to get out of bed and continued that argument for six and a half miles. That's like an hour of running. When my alarm went off at 5 am I hit the snooze, even though that's sleeping in for me. I had to say, out loud, to myself: Get UP!

I slowly got up and got out the door and started off, and as soon as I started I immediately started an argument with myself. It went something like this:

"Do I REALLY have to do this today?"


"Are you sure? I'm REALLY tired."

"Seriously. Yes."

"I really hate this."

"But my body feels awesome, and it's only 6 -1/2 miles."

"Dude, that's 6 - 1/2 miles; that sucks."

"It's not 8, or 17. I just ran for 3 hours on Sunday, this is cake."

"I really hate this but I really love cake, I should be eating cake right now instead of running."

"No, I love this and it's why I can eat cake. Look, the sun's coming up and it's pretty out."

"It's hot, this sucks, I want to be back in my bed."

"Seriously, shut up and run."

"I think I'm going to get eaten by that turkey staring me down."

"Well, run faster then."

It was a very difficult mental struggle this morning which was new to me. I mean sure, I've had days when I don't feel like running or it sucks but I usually get over it pretty fast. This however, lasted for an entire hour. Annoying, and I felt a little crazy. I need to get back on my mental track of "I can, I will, and I am able." Hopefully Thursday, when I do 8 I don't have the same fight.

At least the turkey didn't get me. Those things seriously creep me out...but that's for another day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

As My Year Comes To An End

My birthday is about 3 weeks away and as my year comes to an end and I get ready to be 28 and put together new resolutions for the year I'm starting to reflect on my year as a 27 year old.

I had a great 27th birthday - and as most of you know, I love the excuse of a birthday to throw lots of great parties, and get people together. My 27th was no exception. I had a great dinner with friends at JMK Nippon in Rockford, drinks with Madison friends at The Old Fashioned, my mom's meatloaf for dinner with my family on my actual birthday, followed by a fun party at their house to end my celebrations.

It was a great way to ring in being 27.

(P.S. I so totally miss that brown jacket)

My biggest goal for my 27th year was to run the 5K Fall Classic Road Race at the Y...something I always said I would do but never worked toward getting there. This year however, I ran it...well most of it, there was a small chunk of time I needed to walk. But the thought of finishing 3.1 miles and not coming in last was something that I never thought would happen...but it did. On October 20, 2007 I finished in 33:16 only a little bit under an 11 min. mile. And, not only did I finish, I got 2nd place in my age group (and I do believe there were more than 3 of us in that group!).

Fall was filled with lots of fun trips to the Apple Hut, the Pumpkin Patch, and trailer with Jane, Jack, and Jamie. Lots of fun outside as the leaves turned.

Fall is my favorite season. I love the transition from tanks to sweatshirts, the crisp air, kids starting school, the changing of leaves...everything about it is great to me!

Thanksgiving time brought Chris home from Vietnam to visit! I always love his whirlwind trips back to Beloit - it's always an adventure!
Thanksgiving weekend also took me to Fort Wayne, IN to visit Stanton, it was fun to spend time with him in his hometown, meet some childhood friends, go for my first run ever with him, watch some hockey and spend time with his dad!

I got to take a quick trip to California at the beginning of December to hang out with Stanton, Mike, Betty, and AJ - As always I had a blast with them and miss them dearly throughout the year!

I also ran the Jingle Bell for Arthritis 5K on December 1st and ran the whole thing in 27:56 vastly imroving my October time!

Christmas was a blast this year, and the tree was packed with presents. Although this was Chesney's second Christmas it was more fun with her as she could rip open her presents and play with her toys!

Capitol Dems Christmas bowling was again a great time and while I never do well it's always fun to play hooky for a 1/2 day to hang out with friends, bowl, drink some beer, and celebrate the holiday season!

New Years Eve 2007 was spent with Rachel in Milwaukee! We went to a fabulous party at the Intercontinental Hotel and followed it up with MOCT. We had a cab blessing at the beginning of the night but waited around for hours to get home...next year we'll plan better! Overall though it was awesome! And, I rocked the silver sequenced dress!
I was lucky enough to spend 2 1/2 weeks in Vietnam and Thailand with Chris at the end of January and begining of Feburary. It was one of the most amazing trips, filled with cool sightseeing, new friends, lots of relaxing and beach time, unbelievable food, and some great quality time with Chris.

St. Patrick's Day in March took me to Fabulous Las Vegas with my parents, sister, Aunt Jane and Uncle Jack to celebrate my sisters 21st birthday over a year late! We had an awesome time as always and got to catch STOMP! which was an unbelievable show!

In April I ran the Crazy Legs 8K race in Madison. It was such a fun event - TONS of people and we finnished on the 50 yard line of Camp Randall - I did well considering it was SO windy and finnished in just over 45 min. - That was my first 5 mile race I ever did so I was very happy with the outcome!

The first weekend of May I ran off to New York City for the weekend to catch a game at Yankee Stadium (before the historic one is torn down!) with Stanton! We had a great time at the game, despite being FREEZING and had a nice weekend bumming around the city! Chris came home again in May and we celebrated his birthday, had a fantastic "Hot Punch Party" and got lots of catching up done! It was also at the end of May that I decided I would train for a Marathon!

The first week in June I chopped my hair, caught up again with Chris for his sister's wedding before he left to spend a year in Iraq.
I've spent the summer running - constantly running, which I am LOVING! I have also gotten some fun times in Milwaukee in, hanging out with Rachel and partying at Soho 7. I've had some fantastic "dates" with my awesome niece and I just love spending time with her! I've gotten to catch up with Heather - not as much as I would like, but a few times over the last year - and I've watched my niece become an awesome swimmer which I'm so excited about! I've had great dinners and wine nights with Katie and fun monthly dates with my mom and with Jamie, Kendra and Katie.
I'm figuring out who I am again and remembering that little set backs will make me stronger in the long run. I really believe in the mantra on my road id "tough times don't last but tough people do" - oh how true! I'm trying every day to be a brave, tough woman.
I'm remembering to be thankful for my amazing family and the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for; for my job and my boss and that I'm able to not only afford to travel but to take the time off to do so; for my health care and my new found health; for my body no matter what it looks like, it is mine and I'm thankfull it allows me to do things I want to do and that I find fun; for having the ability and luxury to decide where I want to go and what I want to do with my life next. I could go on and on but I fear I'm going to sound like I entered a Miss America pagent...
It has been an amazing year so far, one that I'm sure I will be reflecting on a little more in the coming weeks - and as my being 27 comes to an end I will get to jaunt off to LA once again for Labor Day weekend getting to hang out with my LA peeps and Rachel is coming with me!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Most Perfect Sunday Morning

While most sane people are sleeping at 6 am on a Sunday morning, and some people are just getting home from a night of partying and making bad (but fun) choices, I am getting ready to "do a long run."

This Sunday was no exception. I was in bed Saturday night by 10 pm, up around 5:45 and out the door a little after 6 to run 15.25 miles.

My "short" runs of 8 miles on Tuesday and Friday were harder this week than they have been in awhile, I was hurting by the end and my times weren't fantastic. It was a crappy week where I had to pull myself out of bed (which was HARD) and hit the road (which was even HARDER). But I got them in.

However, on Sunday, everything was right with the world and my body and I kicked out 15.25 miles in 2:31:15 (UNDER a 10 min/mile average!). I was PSYCHED.

The run was made even better by following it up with a delightful breakfast on my parents' beautiful new patio with my family (my grandparents and aunt Beth included!). Filling up on eggs, bacon, toast, muffins, juice, fresh raspberries as well as catching up with my grandparents and aunt was fabulous!

It's funny to say that a perfect Sunday morning starts with a 15.25 mile run, but I feel fantastic when I'm out there on the roads, taking in the scenery of the river and the neighborhoods of Beloit, doing a lot of self reflection and self discovery...the road is my Church and this Sunday the sermon was amazing. I can't wait to see what next Sunday brings with 17 miles to ponder life...and hopefully I can talk my dad into making breakfast for me again!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

So I'm having a relationship with a football team

Which, would be totally hot and exciting, if it weren't so damn sad right now.

I feel betrayed and heartbroken and mad as hell because the love of my life since you know, I was 12, has taken up with another woman.

Life will move on, I may even learn to love this new man in my life that wears green and gold and is from California (he has SOME redeemable qualities) but I can assure you that when I see the old one, I will long for the better days when he used to be mine.

Or something like that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I can't handle the suspense

Don't the Green Bay Packers know that I have stuff to do? Important stuff. And more importantly, don't they know that I can't get it done until they all stop being little babies and tell me what's going to happen?

The press conference that was suppose to happen between 9 am and noon was postponed - to 4:35 - I mean really - that's ridiculous.

My ultimate opinion on this whole Brett Favre coming out of retirement thing was that he shouldn't have come out of retirement - I hate that he's so Michael Jordan ish - that was annoying. Make a decision, and if you don't know what you want then just stick around. You can always quit a job you have (that's my mom's mantra).

However, if Favre wants to play, he should be playing in Green Bay - I do feel bad for Aaron Rodgers, but let's be honest, the kid will have plenty of time to throw some bad passes, and, I will throw up if I see Favre in anything but the Green and Gold (I'll throw up even more if he's wearing purple - or heaven forbid black and orange - GAG).

Ok, the press conference is going to start - in 2 min. I'm going to watch intently praying that I don't have to throw up. Then, I may get some work done.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rainy days and Mondays always get me thinking...

I'm not really down today, despite the wet, dreary weather we're having...and that it's a Monday on top of it. But I am certainly contemplative.

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity - I got a lot of throwing away done, worked an early morning shift at the Y on Saturday, a fantastic 14.22 mile run on Sunday morning (I kicked my butt with some awesome hills), more moving, a great Dem picnic on a lovely Sunday afternoon and dinner with three of my favorite girlfriends. It was great.

As I sat at dinner last night, at a table outside overlooking the Rock River and listening to my girlfriends catch up, I realized there are just some people who know you...really know you.

The four of us used to be inseparable, but times change and we grew and got more into our careers; into and out of relationships, and the three of them into lasting ones; we spent a lot of time a part as I jaunted off to LA; we made new friends; we have changed, but the one thing that remains is that these women know me and I know them. No matter how much time apart, no matter what new things come into our lives, getting together with the three of them brings me comfort.

It's amazing to think about all the times - both good and bad - I have shared with these women. These are the women I turn to most when things are askew in my life because I know, no matter what, there is no judgement from them and mostly I know that I can count on them. I can count on them to say the right thing - or say nothing at all and it will all be alright.

These are women I turn to when I need to remember - both the funny stories and the hard times that I've made it through. They jog my memory because they were with me...and will always be with me.

These women are more than my friends, they're my sisters...my family, and I love and appreciate them more than they can ever imagine...and although I don't get to see the three of them in the same spot very often, when we are all together it makes me smile...and dinner on Sunday was a fantastic end to my very busy weekend.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Be Brave

Eleanor Roosevelt once said "Do one thing everyday that scares you."
While perusing other blogs that I enjoy, I came across the Be Brave Project and I have been thinking about it for quite awhile and have decided that for the month of August I am going to do one thing everyday that scares me.

Here are the "rules" that the blogger set up:

1. (most important:) MAKE YOUR OWN RULES.
2. Do this for yourself.
3. Make a commitment for the length of time that best suites YOUR needs--one day, one month, one year, one moment...it's all up to you, and you alone. ;)
4. The "brave" or "scary" things that you choose to do can be as big or little as you want them to be. Sometimes it's the little things that can be the most scary!
5. (not to quote Nike, but...) Just do it.
6. Be on your own schedule. You don't need to make a commitment until YOU are ready.
7. This is your unique journey--make it whatever you want it to be.
I love these rules, primarily because I get to make my own! One of my goals this year was to be more brave and I have done some pretty brave things but that goal has since fallen by the way side - so I'm bringing it back with a vengeance in the month of August.

I don't plan on doing anything too crazy - like jumping out of an airplane (although that may be on my list someday...) but I'll keep you posted on some of the "brave" things that I do and I would challenge others to do the same!

Monday, July 28, 2008

13.1 down, a long way to go...

After what seemed like an eternity of a sore foot (really it was 4 days), I was a little bit scared for my long run on Sunday. I hadn't run since Tuesday (when I ran a stellar 8 mile time), and I didn't know how I was going to feel. (and, ps. my foot is ok, checked in with the doc and need to stretch more...simple solution, nothing tragic!).

I got myself out the door, with a 13.18 mile route planned out, and I ran it...hard...and it felt awesome. My foot was great (I was so proud of it!) and I was done in 2:16:23 - which puts me pretty much on track for a 4:30 marathon, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

The run was nice - it was not too hot outside, although around mile 5 I ran by the bank and it was 66 degrees, and 2 miles later when I came back it was 70 already!

I've been putting my parent's house towards the end of the run so that I can get some cold water to refresh me for the last 3 or 4 miles. Mom was awesome and had 2 super cold bottles in the mail box for me with a note for encouragement!

On the last mile I started to really kick and when I came back onto Shopiere for my last .1 miles I was running hard...and had this insanely crazy wave of emotion come over me. I was so happy, I was laughing out loud and then it really sank in that I had just ran 13 miles, holy crap. That's when I started to cry. So I'm running...hard...and crying...hard...and looking like a total dork I'm sure, however, when I was done, I was really blown away with myself!

I don't want to get too excited or too overly ambitious about a specific time for my marathon so I need to keep checking in with my goals, which are:

1. Finish
2. Don't Die

Totally managable I think! However, there's a long way to go before getting to the actual 26.2 miles...thankfully I have 61 ish days to finish preparing!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Could you please remove your hands from my mouth?

If so, I'd be happy to have a conversation with you.

I'm kind of anal about my teeth - I've never been subjected to braces or head gear and while I've had my share of cavities due to "soft" teeth, I take pride in the fact that they're nearly perfect. They could be whiter and I could have less fillings, but they're straight and damn it if there's one thing I actually like about myself (ok, there are really several, not just one) it's my smile.

I went to the dentist this morning - and I'm one of those abnormal people (shocking, I know!) that actually likes the dentist. I mean, you get to lay in a comfy chair and listen to soft rock, and you get prizes when you're good (I got a toothbrush, paste, floss, AND chapstick - I was REALLY good). You also get your teeth polished so all I want to do is smile all day at people - see? my teeth are totally fantastic today!

However, as much as I love going to the dentist, I have NEVER understood why they (the dentist and the hygienist) want to have a conversation with you while they have their hands and sharp instruments in your MOUTH. Hello? Can't talk because your mirror is in the way, oh and if I move my mouth you're going to jab me with the plaque scrapper.

I’m all for the small talk, especially with the people who are providing me with health care – I appreciate that they want to know about what I’m up to, it’s good bedside manner, but could you please ask me questions AFTER you suck the water out of my mouth with your crazy hose thing? Thanks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Running and Weekend Fun

So I ran 27.10 miles last week - in 3 days, this brings my month of July total up to 67.07 miles in the first 19 days of the month which would be sane if I was running 3.53 miles a day, but I'm not.
I ran 6.5 on Tuesday, 8.5 on Thursday and a lovely 12.1 on Saturday - all in some really crappy humidity and all with a little adventure (as usual!).

My 6.5 miler started out lovely until I got about .75 miles in and had a heart attack when a big, mean, scary dog came running at me - ok, it was a golden and it wasn't THAT big, but it did scare the crap out of me. It took me another half mile before my heart was beating normally again.

(Note to self, buy the mace, it'll be good for fending off muggers AND scary animals).

On my 8.5 mile run I was too lazy to create a route using mapmyrun so I ran my 6.5 miler but did my 1st mile loop 3 times. That was dumb. First of all, I had to count and me trying to run and remember how many times I had done that loop was a tad bit difficult. Second of all, it was BORING.

(Another note to self, don't be lazy...map a run route).

Friday night I was psyched up to do my 12 miles. I had my run all mapped out and my water and Gatorade chilling in the fridge. I had snacks out and ready - thanks to Paula I had some fun chocolate GU (which is not as good as it sounds I assure you, but it worked really well), my mp3 player ready to go and I was in bed EARLY so I could wake up at 4 am, on a Saturday, ready to run (fun right?). At 4 am it was down pouring - so I went back to bed in hopes that the rain would eventually stop and it would be less hot and humid.

The rain stopped but I think it brought more humidity...I headed out a little after 11 am. I had a plan worked out with my sister to call her and have her bring some water out for me as I passed my parent's house at mile 8. Well, in the first 3 min. of my run I dropped my phone. I had it tucked in my fuel belt and it fell. So I spent 20 min. walking up and down Shopiere looking for my stupid phone (thinking the whole time that my whole life is in that thing and I would be lost without all my numbers). I finally found it and continued on.

(Yet another note to self, get something that will hold my phone securely).

When I got to the point in my run where I really needed some COLD water and encouragement I called on my sister...who didn't answer her phone...because she was napping. However, I finally got a hold of my mom (after SEVERAL attempts) and she brought me some cold water which was a great help.

(Final note to self, get a new sister...just kidding...).

I know I've written about the "runner's high" before and I'm telling you - it's really amazing. I ran 12.1 miles and it was hot and I wanted to die - but afterwards I couldn't stop giggling to myself and feeling totally psyched.

In other weekend activities, I got to catch up with Jake on my drive home on Friday - fun phone calls on my way home are a great distraction to the hour commute! I also went to my soon to be city and had a blast Saturday night with Rachel and my bartender Kyle at our bar, Soho 7, had a great couple hours with Heather over coffee on Sunday, more fun with Kyle, some quality family time and drinks and fun chat with Katie, Jason, and Kim. Can't beat a weekend like that!

Unfortunately, Monday's provide a reality check.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Who Knew 10 Miles Could Be So Entertaining?

So today, I'm officially calling myself a runner. Not just because I ran 10.11 miles, which I did and it was fun...and humid...but because I did something that I think only a runner would do.

Last night I was super psyched to run 10 miles - I had my water bottles filled up getting cold in the fridge and a Clif Bar out and ready for the morning and at 4:15 am I hopped out of bed and was ready to go!

I was almost 1/3 of a mile into my run and I bit it - - hard. I have never fallen while running so this was kind of new to me. I would like to tell you that I was being chased by a mob of turkeys or a run away car had barreled up onto the sidewalk and I was dodging it, but no, I just tripped...over my own feet.

My first thought was WTF just happened?? Then, I had to check and make sure the lower half of my body was ok - hips, knees, ankles - all good. Now you would think that my next sane person move would be to check the rest of my body for injury - nope, I went straight to shutting off my stop watch, I didn't want this time to be reflected in my run (yes, I'm crazy).

I then moved on to looking at the rest of me and noticed a rather large bloody/muddy gash on my right hand and a totally scrapped up left elbow. I then stood and debated if I could actually get away without washing it off - although I had 4 - 8 ounce water bottles in my super cool fuel belt, I didn't want to waste a drop because it was SO humid. I did however decide that the rational thing to do would be to wash out my injuries.

It was after all of this, less than a third of a mile away from my house, that I decided to continue the run - all 10.11 miles with a bloody hand and a scrapped up elbow. This is what makes me a runner.

About 3 miles in I was concerned that if my elbow was brushing against my WHITE running tank it was going to get all bloody. It was then that I looked down and saw that the entire left side of my tank was covered in mud, so you know, a little bit of blood wasn't going to hurt it.

My dad has been encouraging me to take some mace with me - you know, just in case (there were 3 cop cars in 3 different neighborhoods this morning, I felt safe) - I'll heed his advice, but I think I'm going to start packing band aids too!

I'm not a quitter - if I'm set out to do something, I'm going to do it. I was hell bent on getting those 10 miles in and I did it - injury and all. Kind of reminds me of my freshman year of college when in the snowy icy winter I was determined to drive to Green Bay and get my books for Spring semester. About 15 min. outside of Beloit I hit a patch of ice and went into a ditch - ok, I didn't just go into the ditch, I spun around 4 or 5 times embedding my car into the snow. However, since there were no injuries and a nice guy came to the rescue I continued on to GB. Any sane person would have went home...me? I kept going...

Monday, July 7, 2008

God Bless America...and the Walking Taco

So the 4th of July is my FAVORITE holiday - I actually like singing the patriotic songs and eating hot dogs (ok, I usually have one of my dad's amazing brats but I'm into hot dogs lately), and hanging out with the family. Watching fireworks after the BJSO plays a fantastic concert is a great tradition that my family has. The 4th of July gatherings at the Bishop house are always a must do, every year.

This year however, my parents opted to flee the country instead of hosting their big 4th of July bash and I was left to fend for myself. I did eat hot dogs (off of the roller dog machine) and I did see fireworks (being done in my parent's neighbor's driveway) but chose a marathon of 'What Not To Wear' over the BJSO. Bottom line, I laid low, hung out with the dog and was in bed by 9:30. Still a good 4th, just a little different I suppose.

Sunday I went to a brunch at my aunt and uncle's trailer campground and enjoyed a delicious "Walking Taco." Looks gross I know, but a fun sized bag of fritos topped with all kinds of taco goodness really made me a happy camper! I tend to forget about these but really think that people should make them more often. What a fun thing to have at any event really, because who doesn't love a taco that you can walk around with an not get all over the place!?! Seriously, I'm in for any event that includes them (and that may include the peace out to my apartment party I need to plan!).

One more note about my weekend - my niece (the coolest 2 year old ever) is SUCH a fish - my sister and I took her to the pool on Saturday and had a blast with her jumping in and getting her face wet - it makes me so happy that she loves it - I think it's a must for ALL kids to know how to swim and to be comfortable in the water!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Think I'm Officially a Runner...But Yeah, Who Knows

If you've never been to the Endurance House I suggest you go - now. I had never been there until last night and walking into the store I immediately fell in love, not only with the cute men working there but the packed walls of running shoes and energy bars and wet suits and cute but practical work out clothes and watches that do all sorts of fun things...sigh, I was in runner/tri heaven!

I went in to buy a fuel belt last night because I'm at the point in my training where I'm going to need to take things like Clif Bars and water and Gatorade (yes, I'm the original Lemon Lime kind of girl), etc. with me.

I have been fighting the title of "runner" for awhile now, and I'm not sure why I haven't embraced it. I think it's partly because I find it a little absurd.

I mean this is ME - Jen Bishop. A year ago (today), even after losing 15 - 20 pounds I still couldn't run 1 mile - in fact one mile was ridiculous to me. Running was something that you did in other sports because you were in trouble - it was punishment. It wasn't fun and wasn't something that I ever did because I WANTED to and I certainly wasn't doing it unless I was being chased by a robber or bear or something (and even in those situations there would absolutely be thoughts of just playing dead and crossing my fingers - all to avoid running).

And now I'm a new Jen. Runner Jen. I ran 9.33 miles yesterday, in an hour and 31 min. (for those of you who hate math like me, that's a 9:46/mile average)...kinda makes you giggle a little doesn't it?

This new Jen, she loves to run. In fact, I enjoy jumping out of bed at 4:15 am to throw on my running shoes and hit the road. There is really nothing better to me than running through quiet neighborhoods as the sun rises listening to Sugarland (yes, that's what's getting me through right now - it's a little slower than my Pink Bus Soundtrack that got me through 100 miles of running in March - it helps me pace) and just being with my own thoughts. I find myself longing to be out by the lake in Madison with all the other runners - even when I've already gotten my run in for the day, and there is nothing better than coming in from a run all sweaty and feeling awesome, like you could conquer the world.

All this old Jen vs. new Jen thing is sometimes hard to grasp. It's sometimes hard to look in the mirror and recognize the girl staring back at me. But the old Jen is there, shiny June face and all. She's there and will always be a part of me. But coming to terms with being a runner is a struggle - that is hard to describe.

It's hard to explain how the changes in the last year have made me feel or how they have led me to question who I am. I am certainly not looking for sympathy (ahhmm...sister), but it's difficult for someone who has been "the fat girl" all her life to really get a grasp on this new world. And I think it's equally difficult for someone who has never gone through this change to grasp.

This new world is a very self conscious one - one where I analyze every part of my body and think about how it jiggles too much still, or there's too much skin somewhere, or the muscles that I actually now have in my arms should be a little bit bigger. And, there are days when I look in the mirror and see a girl 75 pounds heavier. It's a world where I don't put myself out there with people as much and am much more reserved than I have ever been.

It's funny to think about and try to explain a loss of self to someone. I mean for starters, I had to throw away (well I gave it away) ALL of my old clothes - things I had for years and things that I loved were just one day gone. And now I stare at my closet wishing for those things back. That fabulous brown jacket that I loved and those awesome jeans that even though they were huge I felt great in them. Those things are gone and replaced with things that don't have a history with me. I often cracked up at the girls who would go on those fashion shows and cry when their old wardrobe was getting thrown away - now I find myself as that girl.

But it's not just the wardrobe. It's a loss of self esteem at a time where I should have more than ever. It's a feeling of running in the opposite directions of friends that I have known and loved for so many years. It's a questioning of what I have passion and excitement for. It's the difficulty of meeting new people because I don't do the bar scene anymore (and thank God for that). It's a longing for tranquility when my head is going crazy. It's trying to find some faith in something, myself primarily.

I feel raw and exposed, and it's really fricking scary. I guess the upshot is that I can be anyone, and do anything and can turn this around and make it work, which is what I'm hoping for, trying for and praying for.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Trying to Find a Place in This World

So I'm again contemplating my life and where I am - as I do quite often - and, I recently have the task of contemplating not only where I am but WHO I am. I made a list of some things that I know I am for sure a month or so ago - it was a riveting blog entry - and I am truly those things but I'm needing to look deeper than "I'm the kind of girl who can eat frozen pizza and play play station one night and paint the town red in a cute little dress the next".

I'm into Taylor Swift lately. She's a teeny bopper country star who's CD has been in my car for the last two months and I'm not sick of it - in fact, I listen to a portion of it at least once a day during my commute.

Anyway, she has a song that starts "I don't know what I want, so don't ask me, 'cause I'm still trying to figure it out..." This song speaks to ME...I'm constantly trying to figure out what it is that I want...and I don't have a clue right now.

I've been drifting in the last month or so and as much as I hated May I'm sad to say that June didn't get any better.

I'm once again finding myself at another turning point - although this one is as a whole new person in a whole new life - one that I haven't quite fit into yet, one that's a mystery to me as I have never been in this place before. It's scary and dark and I'm sometimes struggling for air. But I'll get out. I've put the shovel down and now I'm starting to slowly build some stairs and climb...slowly coming up with things that will get me to the surface again.

My mom said to me that I am never one to get in a rut - I'm not one to stay in one place for very long and be happy. And it's true. I'm constantly thinking that there's something more out there - something better, something different, somewhere that I fit now more than ever.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Turns Out, Yep, I'm Kind of Crazy!

In more ways than one I'm probably a little crazy...which you know makes me a really interesting person or at least that's what I tell myself.

I really decided that I'm nuts this weekend when my girlfriend Rachel called on Saturday and said "you remember that we were talking about doing that triathlon? Well, it's 29 days away, are we in?" - I didn't hesitate in saying "Absolutely." Unfortunately, the registration is closed which is a HUGE bummer, but we're still going to do one. However, now I at least have until August to get ready!

But, in the spirit of training, I started my day with a 3.25 mile run followed by a .5 mile swim. Ok, off to a good start I suppose, now just throw in a 12.4 mile bike and I'm good to go (which would be awesome if I had a bike to train with, I should work on that...like now).

It'll be a fun experience and I physically know I can do this - and my goal is just to finish - and it's great extra training for the Marathon which is 104 days away, assuming that the Quad Cities still exist after this devastating weather in the last couple of weeks (which I'm hoping is the case, because this has been really awful and just plain sad).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Because I'm Always Harping About Being Creative

I know I talk about how important being creative is to me - and the importance of finding some time for creativity in my crazy world - and I had to share a little about an artist I truly enjoy.

Jackson Pollock is an American artist who best known for his "drip" paintings (that's my unartistic explanation). Pollock started laying large canvases down on the floor of his barn and positioned himself above the canvas and began to "drip" paint down onto it - creating beautiful art that some call chaotic and I call creative.

The Getty Center in LA used to have an original Pollock while I was in grad school. I loved sitting in front of it for hours thinking about the lines of the paint and creating images out of them (kind of like laying on your back and finding dogs and ice cream cones in the clouds). Pollock's paintings are mezmerizing.

Anyway, I found this wonderful, inspiring website that will come up as a blank screen - until you start moving your mouse around. You can change your "paint" color by clicking down on your mouse! What a fun way to put some creativity into your day (great stress relief too!!) Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If My Head Didn't Fell Like It Were About To Explode

So this is officially week two of marathon training. Week one went swimmingly - I got lots of runs in and lifted, and swam - I felt awesome, and totally ready to conquer!

However, yesterday morning I drug myself to the Y and since it was raining (seriously it can stop doing that NOW. Thanks.) I hopped on a treadmill set to do 6 miles. Yeah...not so much. About a quarter mile in I was HOT - not like in the everyday, Jen's really hot way, but I was SWEATING - already. This was not going to be good. It seemed like it took an hour to get one mile in (in reality it took 9:30 - details).

And then around mile 2 my head started to pound, and not from the Pink Bus tunes I was jamming to. This was not a good pound...and then there around 2 1/4 miles my face started to feel like it was going to explode. I told myself I only had to do 3 miles since I was dying and all, and it was amazing I even made it to that.

Holy cow - I can't explain the pain I was in - ALL DAY yesterday. I really feel for the people who constantly suffer from allergies, and while I have my share of sinus infections, I have certainly not ever felt as bad as I did yesterday (ok, I may be exaggerating a LITTLE here, but I can assure you, it was awful).

So, I started taking my generic sudafed (Wal-phed in fact. Who names those things anyway?) in case it was allergies (and this is the REAL stuff, the kind you have to use your driver's license to get) and I managed to (barely) make it through my day.

And since I really can't afford to be sick right now (I have too much to do, don't my sinuses understand I have a MARATHON to train for??!) I went to Urgent Care this morning only to be told that it's a "viral" thing and to keep taking the sudafed and maybe some ibuprofen for the pain. Awesome. Thanks.

Today is MUCH better though, I'm currently managing to stay awake at work (something that was undoable yesterday) and my face only feels like exploding a little. So, here's to sudafed, ibuprofen, and gallons of water and tea - - and to busting out some miles tonight.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

So You Want to Run a Marathon?

Yep, I'm going to run a marathon. On September 28th I will be in Moline, IL running 26.2 miles in the Quad Cities. If I don't die training first!

It's funny to think that I would want to run a marathon - let alone be able to do it - but I do and I can and I am able!

What's even more funny is that I don't think it's going to be the running that kills me, I think it's going to be knowing when to drink water and when to shove one of those nasty gel packs down my throat and when to eat a power bar and when to drink gatorade - that part is where I'm going to die. Who knew it would all be so complicated, just let me go out there and run 26.2 miles!

So, if anyone has suggestions on the gatorade/water ratio or anything else, throw 'em my way! This is all a new world to me, one that I love, so I don't want to die, thanks.

Officially I start my 16 week training program tomorrow, June 2nd (hello June, where have you been all my life) - Sundays are supposed to be a long run day, but today I'm taking it slow and if I'm up for a few miles in a little while I'm going to do them, if not, I'll rest and get ready for my 5 miles tomorrow morning at 5 am!

In other news, SATC was AMAZING. It's one of those movies that you walk out of feeling all warm inside and you can't wait until it comes out on DVD so you can buy it and watch it over and over again! I laughed, I cried, I sighed out loud...it was wonderful! The best part was that all 14 of my girlfriends and I got to sit together, in the best seats of the theather (the ones on the slanted level that are like 3 rows up and right in the middle) - we literally ran to get these seats and took some heat for having to hold some but in the end we were all together for a drama packed 2 1/2 hours of fun!

Here's to hoping SATC is out by September 29th because it would be a perfect thing to have on repeat as I lay in my recliner recovering from the marathon!