November 30, 2009

A new year, a new house!

Remember on Wednesday I mentioned being thankful for a new opportunity in my life?

Jay and I are buying a house!! 

I didn't want to say anything until we passed some of the paperwork hurdles.  Looks like we're past most of them and enough in the clear that I wanted to share it with you guys. 

The previous owners have done some major work on the house, so we're hoping that with a few exceptions our work will be mostly cleaning, painting, and wall paper stripping.

So my "to do" list has changed. Gone are the weeding the flower bed and fixing up the guest room items.  Now its packing, cleaning, and moving. 

November 25, 2009

Weigh-in Wednesday & Thursday's Ten - Thanksgiving Style

Shrink-a-Versary Challenge with the Sisterhood!

Today we're continuing the Sisterhood Shrink-a-versary celebration as well as starting our Thanksgiving a day early!!

First off to the scales - this will be my 2nd to last time weighing because I'm starting a new fitness venture.  A friend of mine (you know the one that gets an idea and the next thing you know I'm running a half marathon?) has been reading up on weight training and the benefits of high weight, low rep.

Since February of this year, I've been doing a class twice a week with low weight, high reps.  Yesterday, she and I skipped class to familiarize ourselves with the weights machines, and different exercises.  Starting next week instead of doing squats with two 10 pound dumbells - we'll be squatting 60 pounds with a barbell.

The hope is that we'll build muscle, which in turn will burn up all of our fat in order to fuel itself.  With the weights program we're doing, we know that its quite possible we'll gain weight.  She's as neurotic as me, so keep ourselves from going crazy we're not going to step on the scales.

I'm going to have Jay take a "before" picture of me in a tiny little outfit to track my progress, as well as trying on my skinny jeans weekly.  They fit me almost perfectly now, so I'll be able to judge by them if I'm shrinking or not.   I'll also know if they get too snug that I'm letting fat creep back on and I need to change up something.

I'm excited to get started and you'd better believe I'm still going to be reporting in on Wednesday even if I'm not officially "weighing-in".

Now to what I'm thankful for:

1) New opportunities

I hate to sound so vague, but I'm trying not to get too excited until I know for sure its a solid thing.  I'll post more when I know more.

2) Acheiving goals

Just in case you missed it - I ran a half marathon last weekend!!

3) Setting new goals

This year, when writing my New Year's resolutions - I know they won't just be empty hopes and dreams.  Last year I told myself I was going to lose weight and get more healthy, and here I am!

4) Christmas with my family!!

When Jay and I got married, we decided that holidays would be rotated yearly - one year we'd do Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine, then the next we'd do Thanksgiving with mine and Christmas with his.

Last year, I asked for Christmas with my family (just to get things started) because it was the Little Man's first Christmas.  Which meant this year it was Jay's turn to have Christmas with his family.  I've been bummed about it, whenever I think of Christmas.

Earlier this week, Jay asked how I would feel about switching it up.  His alma mater is playing a big game the day after Thanksgiving and he wants to go.  So this year we're doing Thanksgiving with his family (since OU is just an hour away) and I get Christmas with my family again!!

5) My brother-in-law

Now, if my family is reading this they might be offended - but they know I'm thankful for them.  Its easy and trite to say we're thankful for our families.

But I'm truly blessed to have a great brother-in-law.  He was one of those people who didn't think I could/should be able to run a half, but was one of the most proud of me for actually doing it.

6) My job

Also a little trite, but I don't care.  I have a secure job with great benefits.  Two things that bring me much peace of mind - and is much needed considering Jay is self employed!  Not to mention the free gym access!

7) The Blog-o-sphere

I have met so many wonderful people through the bloggy world.  I've grown as a person and a writer because of you.

8) My type A personality

I'm good with money.  I'm good at meal planning.  I'm good at keeping track of all the bills.  My need to have everything just so might drive Jay crazy sometimes, but it keeps our household running smoothly.  And I get a high off marking that last thing off my check list.

*note to self, write out Thanksgiving packing list*

9) The Sisterhood

This past week was the 1 year anniversary of the start of the sisterhood.  I haven't been with them since the beginning, but I can promise that if I never found them I'd have given up on weight loss.

10) Hobbies

I love reading, hiking, running and get to do them all on a regular basis.  Trust me, I understand that each of these is its own blessing. 

There are many, even in this country, that don't have the ablity to read.  Then there are people like my father who just doesn't enjoy it.  Not to mention all you moms without the time. 

I'm blessed to live in an area surrounded by great hiking trails.  And am blessed to be healthy enough that I can hike and run no problem!

What about you, what are you thankful for this week?  Are you thankful for how you did on the scales?  Talk to me.

November 24, 2009

California Day 3

We considered doing a hike the morning of our 3rd and final day in the Sequoia National Park – Jay had seen beautiful pictures of the lakes the trails lead too. We decided against it, because it would have eaten up too much time, and it would have been really cold. We would have had to get up at 5 in the morning, check out then hike.

Which meant that there would be no shower after the 4-5 hour hike, just straight to the car and riding for 5 hours to San Francisco in our sweat.


I promised Jay that for our 10th anniversary, we’d come back to California and spend the entire week in Sequoia.

On the way out, Jay had to stop and take a million more pictures of the scenery. Good thing I had my word find puzzle easily accessible in the glove box.

After about 5 hours on the road – we finally made it.

Beginning on the Bay bridge, Jay started complaining.

“I hate this place, I hate this place!”

Actually, he just meant he hated the traffic. Or so he later said when I told him it was our anniversary and he needed to have a good attitude.

We checked into our hotel, and then headed towards Pier 39. We weren’t really sure what to expect, we just knew that it was a popular tourist destination.

Since we weren't too impressed with the shops at the pier, we walked toward the actual pier and (once again) Jay decided it was a perfect spot for a million photos.

We had noticed a couple of people in the same area as us, but we just assumed they were taking a breather from the crowds and enjoying the view like us.  Then I looked down at what they were pointing too.

We'd been standing there at least 15 minutes before we had noticed them.  As we watched, the one reminded Jay of me.  It kept "snuggling on in" as we call it.  He was taking his nose and rubbing it in the neck area of the sea lion he was laying on top of.  It was incredibly cute!  (And I'm not even that big of a fan of animals.  Especially stinky ones.)

As we walked along the pier, I noticed a smell that was growing more and more obnoxious as the more we walked in that direction.  When we rounded the corner, we saw the source.

From what I understand, when the sea lions first started to gather here, the city tried to shoo them off.  The area where they were hanging out was very expensive to construct.  The sea lions became such a tourist attraction (they have risers built to get a better view) that the City decided to just leave them alone.

Most of them were just sunning/sleeping, but one territorial sea lion caught Jay's attention.

He would knock any sea lion that tried to get on to his square off.  While he was distracted with one, another would climb on and he would have to go take care of him.  It was odd to see him that agreessive, considering he was surrounded by sea lions not really doing much of anything.
We wandered back towards the shops and noticed a performer mid-routine.  We stopped and watched awhile. 

Street performers are very common in Fisherman's Wharf, as are pan handlers.  One had a sign that said "Due to inflation, I can no longer buy weed.  Can you spare $1?"  Another offered Jay a hit as we walked by.  When Jay turned him down, he said "Cops don't care, its just weed."

My young, naive nose now knows what pot smells like...

As we were souvenir  shopping, Jay noticed a shop he'd like to go in, but I grabbed him by the ear and pulled him away.

We found a romantic spot on another, much less crowded, pier.  After another round of pictures, Jay decided to...well...not sure really what he was doing...

As the sun set in the bay, we got back to being romantical. 

We walked hand in hand down the sidewalk.  As we passed some street performers, some said to us "beware the bush man!"  About 3 steps later a guy holding some shrubbery jumped out and scared us.  Well me.  I screamed so loud that the people on the other side of the (four lane) street stopped to see what was happening.  Jay offered to buy  me this t-shirt, but I declined.

Apparently he's the talk of San Francisco.

Then it was time for dinner at Boudins, a famous sour dough bakery. 

After dinner we walked back to our room and called it a night.

Happy Anniversary baby!!

November 23, 2009

I wasn't last!!!!! AKA My Half Marathon Results post

How's that for cutting to the chase?  Although that does spoil the ending just a bit. 


Surprisingly enough, I didn't have any trouble sleeping the night before.  I set everything out so that Saturday morning I'd just have to throw on my gear, grab my water out of the fridge, and throw my backpack into the car. 

When my alarm went off at 5:45, I was ready to get at it.  We had an hour drive to the race, and I wanted to get there an hour early, so our ETD was 6:30.  Jay had just went to bed at 3 AM, so he was a little difficult to get out of bed, but around 6:35 we were on our way.

I got in line to register and asked Jay where the camera was.  "In the car."

"But I want a picture of in here!"

He thought I was a dork, but went and got it for me.  Things I didn't get a picture of before the race: the sign above the toilet saying "do  not flush radioactive material down this drain", the sign that said "when lights are flashing live fire is in progress", and "no loaded fire arms inside the training room."

The weather was cool, but nice.  Earlier in the week, the forecasts called for rain - thankfully that held off until Sunday.  I was starting to get jittery, so I chatted with some fellow runners.  One had completed the race before and gave me the heads up that the "standard deluxe" hill was nothing to sneeze at.  In fact, he informed me, there is a curve half way up.  His first time racing the course he thought he was to the top, only to round the corner and see that he had more to go.

I positioned myself towards the back, knowing I would be one of the slower runners.  Jay insisted that I wouldn't be in last place, but after looking up the times from previous years on line, I couldn't be sure.

I was able to start out at my own pace, and didn't let the runners passing me or the race day excitement get the betst of me.  But by mile 1, an old lady passed me and I was in last place.  From the awards later, I found out she was in the 70-99 catagory.  All I knew was that from mile 1-5 I was in last place...and running behind an hunched over old lady in a back brace.

The course started at the Oak Ridge Central Training Facility, went right for two miles, then doubled back toward the CTF.  Passing the CFT we traveled on that road about 2 more miles, did about a hundred yards off roading, then we were on the path toward the standard deluxe hill.

I got a little freaked out when I passed a couple of train cars labeled "hydrochloric acid",  but kept plugging along.  Thankfully I passed the old lady around mile 6.5 or so and was no longer in last place.  I still, however, had the run/walker to contend with.  I was pretty much her pacer.  She'd run for a while, then talk a walking break.  When I'd catch up to her (jogging slowly the whole time), she took that as her cue to run again.

That's only slightly less annoying than the old lady in the back brace being in front of me.

I was confident, however, that there was no way I was crossing the finish line after someone who had to start walking at mile 2.  If nothing else, I knew I'd lose her on the hill.

As I rounded the corner around mile 8, I caught my first glimpse of it.  I couldn't help but mutter an explitive.  I thought I was prepared for what it might look like, but it was far worse than I'd feared.

I didn't have a camera with me, so the best I can do to show you a small part of the hill is to rely on the race photos.  I had prayed that my IPod shuffle would give me a couple of good songs - the hill was a 100 foot elevation change over a 0.3-0.4 mile area and I'd need every ounce of inspiration to get to the top with out stopping to walk.

My two songs were Third Day's "Come on Back to Me" and Alabama's "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" - both felt perfect.  I passed the run/walker for the last time, as well as another racer.  The turn around was at the top of the hill.  Once I made it to the top I knew I was home free from there. 

Sure I still had 4.6 miles to go, but if I could run up that hill I could do anything! 

I don't even remember taking another energy gel after that.  Just kept trotting past the 9 and 10 mile markers.  Before I reached the 11 mile point, I passed my 4th racer.  I noticed that he was run/walking it, but just assumed that he ran out of gas before the finish. 

Turns out, he'd hurt his knee during the race and was doing his best to finish.  He was really nice and said "great job girl" as I passed.  Its nice when real runners are encouraging like that - it gives me validation or something.

I trotted passed the 11 mile mark, through the grass, and was on the final straight away.  Mile 12 seemed to last forever, mostly because I felt like the race was already over, only it wasn't. 

Before I got to the 13 mile marker, I noticed my fans lined up along the road.  Jay, the princess, little man, and BIL were all there cheering me on.  I was a little disappointed, because I wanted Jay there for the finish.  Obviously I was mentally tired, because not only did Jay have fresh legs - he's also a sprinter.  Of course he was easily able to make it to the finish line before I crossed.

In the picture above, from right to left its some lady, some dude, and me.

I had a little steam left, so I was able to make one last pass before the finish line.  You'll notice my BIL and the little man (in his blue car) in the picture above. 

My dad, video camera in hand, was stationed at the corner of the final 0.1 mile.

As I rounded the corner, I saw my mom and sister and heard my mom say "you've got 50 seconds till 45!"  I had told her that I wanted to finish between 2:37 and 2:45.  If I was going to make it, I had to kick it in high gear.

According to my sister, high gear is accompanied by a series of grunts.   Never have I been so grateful that my parents' video camera isn't digital.  To hear my sister tell it, the noises weren't pretty.

But I felt good crossing the finish line knowing that I gave it all I had.

I grabbed a post race hug, then I was off in search of snacks.

The End!

Okay not really.  My joints got sore as the night progressed.  And Sunday my quads were sore (I'm blaming that blasted hill).  But I definitely want to do the same race again next year - this time with a goal of 2:37. 

November 20, 2009

California Day 2

Our 2nd full day in the National Park started off with a trip to the Giant Forest Museum, and thankfully we didn’t spend nearly as much time as we had the previous day in the visitor’s center. We did learn that the tree that people could drive through the base was in Yosemite National Park, but had died some years prior (sorry Jen).

Go figure – cutting a giant hole in the bottom of a tree can kill it.

(Sarcastic enough for you sweetie?)

The general area of the Museum was also home to the auto log, tunnel log, and crescent meadow. Auto log is a fallen tree that people use to drive on top of. Like the tree in Yosemite, it’s not up for that any more.

But when we stopped to take pictures we did get an extra treat.

While not as cool as the now deceased Yosemite tree, the tunnel log was still pretty cool! Reason number 815 why I’m glad Jay’s the photographer in the family – I got to have all the fun.

Duke Boy style!

The tunnel log leads up to crescent meadow. Maybe we just hit it at a bad time of year but *whispers* I thought it was ugly. (And yes, my hub-sand is a excellent photographer and his skill is totally what made this picture pretty.)

A 0.8 mile trail led to Tharp’s Log. Basically this dude made a fallen log into a cabin where he lived a while. Then some modern day idiots thought it’d be cool to carve their names into. (Graffiti, especially in the National Park, pisses me off.)

Then it was onto Moro Rock. The helpful construction lady had referred to it as “some steps up to a great view.” Turns out “some” steps = 400 over a 300 foot elevation change. At points, Jay and I both were uneasy about the straight drops down.

My dad is a “Safety First” nut, but also loves roller coasters and thrills. Jay and I both agreed that this stop on the trip was definitely not OSHA approved!

When we finally got our heads out of the clouds, we headed toward the General Sherman. There is a sign warning about the elevation change/steep climb on the way back.

I offered to take the picture of a family of four, so they offered to return the favor for Jay and I.

We decided to pass on the Big Trees & Congress trails, and instead headed towards the foothills. Not sure why Jay let me drive, but he did – and I needed the help of the signs telling me to down shift. Unfortunately the car didn’t have a 2nd gear, so it was either 1st or drive. From the looks he was giving me, most of the time I was either going too fast or two slow to suit him.

The town in the foothills provided a yummy lunch at a Mexican restaurant – and cell phone coverage!! We chatted on the phone to our parents (and I think Jay made a business call or two) stocked up on snacks at the grocery store, then headed back up the mountain.

Back at the lodge, Jay worked on the computer and I finished (yet another) book. The lobby had a huge bear with two tiny bears in the big bear’s lap. A family came over to the seats to get their picture made with the bear, so I offered the couch where I was sitting. Once again my kindness was returned, and they took our picture with the bear.

Although we’d just eat a few hours earlier at Serrano’s, we decided to keep our dinner reservations at the Lodge and just have a light meal of soup and salad. Jay was none too happy when the waitress told him that they were out of soup. With steam coming out of his ears, he ordered an appetizer, and I got a Caesar salad.

For more pictures of that day, click here.