Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Times in 2009: Wrapping it up

The first part of the semester was fairly uneventful (which was good, considering what was coming up!). I spent most of my time doing school work and getting ready to run the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon. I also started this blog. Here are some of my favorite posts so far:

Once October came, so did the busyness! I was in my very good friend's wedding one weekend and ran the Des Moines Half Marathon the next. Then, it was back to Iowa for Halloween with Aaron and some of his friends.

November also started with a weekend in Iowa (my goodness - I was in Iowa an awful lot this fall!!!) with my mom. On the way, I picked her up at a friend's cabin near the Platte River where she had been celebrating her friend Sue's 60th birthday (the picture above is of the two of them -- I only HOPE I look so good!). We headed to Ames to watch the Husker volleyball team take on the Cyclones. It was expected to be a knock-down-drag-out, but we swept Iowa State in 3 straight sets. It was a really fun trip, even if the volleyball wasn't all we expected.

November was another extremely busy month. I travelled to Dallas to be in another very close friend's wedding, took the GRE, wrote a term paper, took two Statistics tests, prepared my PhD application for the University of Washington, and celebrated Thanksgiving with the fam somewhere in there.

December started with a trip to Philadelphia for the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting. Over the summer, as you know, I had a chance to meet people from two of the PhD programs I intend to apply to, so the trip to the conference was a great opportunity to meet people from the other two. It was totally amazing to meet and hear some of my Anthropology idols speak, and was extremely informative meeting with some anthropologists that I may be working with in a PhD program. Luckily, my mom agreed to be my traveling partner, so I had moral support and someone to shop with! December also brought two HUGE snow storms to Lincoln. Lucky me (and everyone else at UNL) the first fell during Dead Week. That gave me some extra time to prepare for finals week and tie up a few loose ends. Once I made it through the end of my semester, Aaron and I went to Kansas City to celebrate!!! The weekend was so much fun and WAY TOO SHORT! We'll have to venture back soon...

I ended the year in style... With the h1n1 virus! :( Not the best way I can think of to spend my break or the holidays, but no better time to be sick and housebound than when you're totally snowed in, right? Fortunately, I got better just in time for New Years Eve! I made it to an afternoon event at the yoga studio (which I'll write more about later) and then Aaron and I went to Omaha for a nice dinner with his mom and a night out with some friends. It was a wonderful way to celebrate 2009 and welcome 2010.

Looking back over these last few posts, I can't believe how much I did last year!!!!! It was an incredibly busy and fun-filled year and I wouldn't do anything differently. I made some amazing friends, traveled to new places, and pushed myself to my limits once or twice (like when I wanted to pass out 100 yards before the finish line, but kept going...). Thank you to friends and family for supporting me and going on adventures with me in 2009. It was a WONDERFUL year, and I absolutely can't wait to see what 2010 will bring! Happy New Year!!!

Good Times in 2009: Part 3

My goodness! I've only gotten through the first 7 months of the year so far!!! So... On we go!

At the end of July, we celebrated Aaron's birthday in style(? - haha) with a party with lots of friends, margaritas, and and an awesome cake. Then, he and I were off to Colorado for a weekend of hiking and hanging out in Estes Park. Our first full day included a short hike then hot dogs and smores with friends. Funnily enough, my friend from school, Jared, and his girlfriend, Ari, were on a cross-country road trip and just happened to be camping just outside of Estes while we were there! It was great to see them.
The next morning, we were up bright and early and off to hike the Chasm Lake Trail. It was an 8 mile hike, which we figured would take a few hours... 6 hours of breathtaking scenery later, we made it back to the car. It was well worth it, but let me tell you - we were exhausted and starving! It was such a relaxing trip and a great way to end the summer.
Just before school started, my cousin, Nick, married a WONDERFUL woman! It was a weekend of wedding extravaganza with the fam. We were absolutely thrilled to welcome Kara and her family into ours. The wedding was simple and beautiful. And, with that, it was time for school to start again...

Good Times in 2009: Part 2

Today officially marks ONE WEEK of sickness! This totally BITES. I am assuming that it is a combination of a few things: the stupid h1n1, the letdown of the end of a REALLY tough semester, and the fact that I was seriously slacking on sleep and vitamins just before I got sick. I am really, really, really hoping to feel better for tomorrow night because it's NEW YEARS EVE! Everyone needs a little fun in their life on NYE, right?!?!?!

So... Here's part 2 of my 2009 recap, for any interested parties...

I had always wanted to visit the Northwest Coast and in July, I was given the perfect opportunity! My friend Meghan was driving out to Eugene, OR to spend a few weeks house-sitting for a friend, so I drove out with her! It was an incredible trip, filled with beautiful scenery, AMAZING food, and some really cool runs. We ran on Pre's Trail in Eugene (Steve Prefontaine was a legendary runner at the University of Oregon) and on the Seattle waterfront. We hiked near the coast and walked on the beach. Meghan was kind enough to tailor our trip to my needs and I was able to visit 3 potential PhD programs at the University of Utah, the University of Oregon, and the University of Washington. It was such an incredible trip and I would go back in a heartbeat.

Ok! Time to cheer on the Huskers in the Holiday Bowl! GO BIG RED!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Good Times in 2009: Part 1

Well, here it is Monday and I'm STILL laid up! At least now I've made it out to the couch... I have decided that I was finally hit by the h1n1, so I'm just trying to be patient and ride it out. Lots of rest and fluids, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, as 2009 comes to a close, I thought I would look back over the last year and enjoy some of the memories. As I started to go through my pictures, I realized just how busy I've been! So, I am going to break up the year into 3 (maybe 4) posts so that I can be sure to get all of the good stuff in!

Last January, my mom and I went to Sanibel, Florida. It was an absolutely amazing trip. We were only there for a few days, but those days included: shelling on a small, secluded island off of Captiva; LOTS of laying on the beach; the BEST whole wheat blueberry pancakes of my LIFE; renting bikes and riding all over the island; a 4 mile run on the beach... I could go on and on...

Also in January, I joined the Lincoln YMCA Marathon/Half Marathon class and started training to run the Lincoln Half Marathon. It was an awesome experience. When I started the class, 4 miles felt like a long run to me. Every week that we ran more than 4 miles was a new accomplishment. I ran a 5 mile race, a 10 mile race, and a 10K race. Then, in May, I ran and finished the Lincoln Half Marathon. Probably the best part of the experience, though, were the friends I made (and the boyfriend! haha). My running Peeps are an amazing group of people that I know I will stay friends with for a very long time.

I also managed to finish my first year of graduate school in 2009. It was not easy, but I did it! I made some great school friends as well, who helped keep me sane during the really challenging times.

At the end of May, I went on an accidental date for wine and cheese at Bread & Cup. Incidentally, that turned out pretty well... : )

The end of June brought with it a weekend trip to Chicago for one of my very best friend's bachelorette party. It was a fun-filled weekend, for sure!

And that's just the beginning... Stay tuned for more summer adventures...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shèngdàn Kuàilè Xīnnián Kuàilè (Merry Christmas!)

Merry Christmas Eve! I'm sitting here in pj's with my mom and Mags, watching a movie and sipping 7Up (stomach flu beverage). At least I felt good enough to eat a little beef stew and cornbread tonight!
Anyway, I figured there was no better time than the present to revisit the Christmas I spent in Taiwan a couple of years ago...
I spent the days leading up to Christmas decorating my classroom. I decided that the best way to celebrate my favorite holiday (in a mostly non-Christian and non-Christmas celebrating country) was to help my students experience some of the traditions that my family practices every year. So, I made them a Christmas scene, complete with tree and gifts under it, snow, and a snowman (I'm not the MOST creative person, so this was a pretty big undertaking for me!). Then, we talked about how my family hangs ornaments on our tree every year, talking about the memories that each ornament brings back, and making new memories. Each student made an ornament of their own to hang on our classroom tree. They also all contributed a green handprint to the wreath we hung on the door to our classroom. Maybe the best of all were the Christmas lists that they made... Most of the girls asked for dolls, makeup, jewelry (yes, they were 1st and 2nd graders) and most of the boys asked for toy trains, airplanes, cars, and other "boy gifts". However, as I was hanging the lists on the wall, I noticed that Samuel (one of my favorite little boys) had asked for a Barbie! hahahaha When I asked him about it, he assured me the Barbie was a gift for his sister, but knowing his utter hatred for his sister, I have a sneaking suspicion that she never would have laid hands on that Barbie should Santa have made his way to Samuel's house!
On Christmas Eve, we had a Christmas game day/program at school. My class sang "Away In A Manger" and I wore a Santa Hat, and sweated like CRAZY in it - it was over 90 degrees in Chiayi that day!!! That night, I ate a caramel Santa that Kara sent me and watched Christmas movies.
Christmas is not an official holiday in Taiwan, so I had to work. Fortunately, though, it fell on a Tuesday that year, and I never had to work earlier than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays. On Christmas morning, I slept in, made eggs and sausage for breakfast (not the same as at home, but the idea was still there), watched Christmas movies, then headed to the Starbucks in the Chiayi mall. It was the perfect place to spend my Christmas day because it was one of the only places in town decked out for Christmas. Plus, even Taiwanese Starbucks have Gingerbread Lattes and Cranberry Bliss Bars! Thus, my love for Gingerbread Lattes began. I was sad and missing my family. It was the first time I had ever been away from them on Christmas and the smell and taste of the latte brought back a little of the comfort of home and on that day made me feel just a little less homesick. Now, every time I have one, I think about my Christmas in Taiwan and how grateful I am to be home now...
Ok. Off to finish watching Love Actually with the fam, maybe a little of The Christmas Story, then head to bed and wait for Santa to come! : )
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

p.s. Pictures from Taiwan Christmas and from this Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cookies?

This year, I have been blessed with so many wonderful new friends and so many wonderful people in my life. I was also blessed with a graduate student's salary (if you can call $800/month a salary...). So, my idea to show all of these people how much I appreciate and care about them was to give them each a festive jar of some of the Christmas cookies that my mom, sister and I make every year. In theory, this was a great idea...

I made all of the proper preparations, bought enough ingredients to make extra of some of my favorite cookies, got the packaging, and made a list of some of the people I wanted to deliver these "gifts" to. But now, it looks as though the three of us may just have A LOT of cookies to eat. Or, actually, maybe it will just be my mom and sister taking charge...

Last night I came down with a nasty case of the stomach flu!!! Talk about bad timing! Not only are there cookies to deal with, but also our traditional Christmas Eve beef stew dinner, and Christmas morning breakfast, NOT TO MENTION stocking candy! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Keep your fingers crossed that I'm back to solid foods tomorrow, and stay tuned for a better Christmas post once I'm feeling up to it. In the mean time, drive safely if you're traveling for the holidays, enjoy time with friends and family, and have a nice Christmas Eve tomorrow!

Oh! And enjoy Aaron's new video blog!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Remember what I said yesterday? One exception: I do not - NOT - love shoveling. Or scraping off my windshield. DO. NOT.

I had plenty of work I should have been doing tonight, but had to dig my car and my mom's car out of our parking spots because a parking ban starts at midnight here in Lincoln so that the snow plows can come through and clear off the streets. And now, instead of working on my statistics project or my take-home midterm for another class, I am making oatmeal raisin cookies. You know why? Because after all of that shoveling... I deserve it, damn it! : )

I hope you're all warm in your homes tonight and ready to brave the roads tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I don't have anything incredibly profound or interesting to say today (although I do have a trip to Philly to recap for you later), I just want to say that I love snow and I love snow days!!!

Normally, when I had a real job and lived in the real world, snow days were for lounging around, making cookies, watching movies, etc. Today, now that my life is that of a graduate student, I love this snow day because it has given me an entire day, uninterrupted by class or daily course work, during Dead Week no less!, to WORK!!! Is this sad? If it is, I don't care. Considering the amount of work I have to get done between now and next Friday, I am loving this!!!!! I am keeping my fingers crossed that Mother Nature pulls through for me and gives me another one tomorrow - right now, to me, that would be pure bliss.

My love for snow, on the other hand, is unchanging and unwavering. I love snow because it is pretty. It sparkles when the light hits it and last night it looked like someone was standing on the roof shaking glitter into the alleyway. Snow reminds me of the holidays. It makes me want to snuggle in a blanket with my cat close by and a good movie. It reminds me of one of (possibly) my favorite days (of all time) and makes me think of chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate. Snow makes me think of Christmas trees and spending time with my family.
Maybe it's because I'm sappy and sentimental. Or maybe it's because I'm a true Midwesterner at heart (something I am certainly proud of). Whatever the reason, the bottom line today is:


Enjoy some peace and quiet tonight, and stay warm, wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Seeing as how tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about a few things that I am most thankful for.

First and foremost, I am thankful for my family. My mom and my sister are two people I absolutely could not do without. They support me through thick and thin, they give me hugs when I need them, are always there to listen, and tease me constantly (to make sure I don't take myself too seriously, I'M SURE). I love them both very much, and more than anything else in the world, I am thankful for the two of them.
*I considered putting an embarrassing picture of the two of them up here, but thought it might negate all of the nice things I just said...

I am thankful for my wonderful friends who, even though I have been living in a hole for the last few months, never stop calling. I have so many different sets of friends -- volleyball friends from Lincoln and from Texas, running friends (who have become so much more than just people I run with), my two wonderful friends from Hastings, and very dear friends that have stuck with me since high school. Over the last year, these friends have had weddings and babies, lost loved ones and pets, triumphed and failed, and through it all, they have allowed me to remain in their lives and have never failed to be there for me when I needed them most.

I am thankful for the fact that (even though at times I want to deposit the entire contents of my desk into the trash can in one fell swoop) I am able to do something that I love. This has been the hardest semester of my life - unfortunately it's not over quite yet, and extra unfortunately, I'm sure there will be one in my future that tops this. However, every day, I get to get out of bed and pursue my dreams. I feel extremely fortunate, especially in an economic climate where some people have lost their jobs and their homes, to be able to do something that I enjoy so much, AND to have a steady (albiet small) income from doing it.

I am thankful that I have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over my head. I am thankful to have a body (minus the knees) that has allowed me to run two half marathons and the mental toughness to finish them.

I am thankful for my cats that keep me company and keep me warm at night. (That's my Nellie in the picture.)

I am thankful for Aaron because he sees who I really am. He is one of the kindest, most genuine and open people I have ever known. He enjoys doing things that make me happy and appreciates the things that I do for him. I haven't always had this in my life, and I recognize how lucky I am to have it now.

There are so many more things to be thankful for and I couldn't possibly list them all here (I do have a paper to write this weekend, after all!). Tomorrow, as I (try not to) stuff myself with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and lots of pie ... as I sit around the dinner table with my mom, my sister, aunt, uncle, cousins, Aaron, and Aaron's family, I am going to try to remember how thankful I am - how lucky I am to have all of these things to be thankful for ... then I'm going to have another piece of pie...


What are YOU thankful for???

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Starting Fresh

Do you know what I love about mornings? What motivates me to get out of bed at 5:15 every Tuesday and Thursday morning? The chance to start over.

Last night, I lay in bed fretting about all that has to be done over the next week and month, worrying that I might not be able to do it all. Here's a brief rundown for you, just in case I drop out of the blog universe for a while:

This week (today and tomorrow):
homework assignment due Saturday morning, Statistics homework due tomorrow, study for GRE, oil change, dinner with friends tonight, go to classes, Dallas for a wedding (Thursday through Sunday)

Next week:
Monday - classes and statistics test
Tuesday - the dreaded GRE (which I hope to goodness I will be prepared for!)
Wednesday - following Wednesday - write 16 page paper, finish 1 grad school application, prepare resume, prepare for upcoming BIG TIME conference, with Thanksgiving thrown in there somewhere

Following week: Thursday - Sunday - American Anthropological Association conference in Philadelphia, where I plan/hope to meet lots of people from the PhD programs I'm applying to

Week(s) after that: Statistics final exam, Human Growth & Development take home final (THANK GOODNESS!), grade 180+ papers (at least they're short!)

Then... Christmas break!!! aka heavy drinking and lots of sleep OR aka time to finish all other PhD applications (probably the second one).

Phew! That's A LOT! So... That explains why I was tossing and turning last night...

This morning, I rolled out of bed, drug myself into yoga class, and once I was seated on the mat, I realized what's so great about mornings -- especially yoga mornings. Luckily, usually, I wake up with very little recollection of what feelings or thoughts I was experiencing the night before. Yoga offers me a chance to jump into a brand new day; a chance to start fresh, with the attitude that I choose. I can erase all of the negativity I felt the night before, or I can embrace any happy thoughts or experiences and build on those. This morning, I chose to ERASE! My challenge for the rest of the week is to start each morning with the mindset that I choose, whether I go to yoga or not, and my intention for the day is: POSITIVITY!

Another great thing about mornings??? Banana nut oatmeal. It's calling my name.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Although the economy seems to be rebounding, apparently Corporate America doesn't think that's going to translate into $$ spent on Christmas this year. Hence, Christmas commercials began on November 1 and Target has had decorations out since before Halloween.

And guess what?!?!?!?! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

In need of a MAJOR pick-me-up (after a very challenging, very sweaty 5:45 yoga class this morning I'm dragging a little), a light clicked on... It's Gingerbread Latte time at Starbucks!!! So, I hightailed it over there and in less than 15 minutes, I was on my way back to my office, warm, yummy drink in hand. As I walked, sipping my coffee (and probably with a comically dreamy, far off look on my face), I recalled why I love this drink so much (that story will come later) and why I'm so PUMPED to celebrate the holidays this year!

I've always loved the holidays, but after one year spent sweating my ass off in a Santa hat, entertaining 2nd and 3rd graders, and just generally missing my family while in Taiwan, and then another holiday season bummed out about the break-up of a 3 year relationship, I'm ready to get in the holiday spirit!!!!!

So, I plan to have many gingerbread lattes (with a few pumpkin spice thrown in for good measure) between now and Christmas, roam the isles of Target looking at ornaments and getting super excited on the inside about all of the twinkly lights long before it's seasonally appropriate, and am even contemplating putting my Christmas music on my iPod, just in case the mood strikes...

Happy Tuesday!
And remind me to write later about my Christmas spent in Taiwan...

Are YOU a closet sucker, too?????

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Number ...

Do you know my LEAST favorite part of going to the doctor's office? That part where you have to step on the scale and see how much you REALLY weigh.

Contrary to the kind words, "no you're NOT!"s and "pshhh"s I have been getting from family and friends when I say I think I'm gaining weight, I have felt for a while now that I am. I've noticed that I have less energy, my pants fit a little tighter, I don't look in the mirror quite as often, etc. etc. My venture onto the scale at this morning's doctor's appointment (just a check up -- nothing's wrong) confirmed it. Those 3 little numbers were arranged into one big one that I did NOT like.

Momentarily, I considered rationalizing that number away ("Well... I just ate a big breakfast" "I normally weigh myself first thing in the morning" "These jeans alone weigh like TWO POUNDS!"), but then thought better of it. You might think that I've had plenty of opportunities over the last (almost) year, as the weight has been creeping on, to see I need to put a stop to this. I have, it's just that those opportunities have been met with half-efforts to do something about it. I will say, to my credit, that I have made huge leaps and bounds when it comes to things like conscious eating, awareness of my hunger, and putting the fork down before the entire meal is consumed. I just haven't made the effort to translate those important lessons into weight loss. NO MORE!!! Today, I declare mutiny on the habits that have been leading to this weight gain (or at least keeping it from going away).

I have always been an active person (I played volleyball in college, have always worked out regularly, and you may recall that I just ran a half marathon), and while my activity level has fallen off a bit (grad school will do that to a person), my real problem is what I eat. I eat TOO MUCH! I don't believe in all or nothing, starve yourself, eat only salads, feel guilty for eating dessert diets. I have tried those before. They work for a while, then the weight comes back -- unacceptable this time. I want to get to a real, manageable weight that I can maintain and I want to do that by learning how much food my body REALLY needs -- not just how much I think I should eat for fear of getting hungry later, or how much I want to eat because it tastes good (or because it's comforting). That is the goal.

**I do want to be clear about something: I don't think I'm "fat." I just don't feel very healthy, and I also don't think I look as healthy as I think I could/should. Also, the extra poundage is really hard on my knees when I'm running.

Sooooo.... Without further ado, here's what's going to happen:

  • obsess about this
  • use it as a reason to feel badly about myself
  • start reciting to everyone how many calories are in every food I and they eat
  • stop eating things I like or have any "restricted" or "forbidden" foods
  • be unhealthy about this -- the whole point of this IS health (mental and physical)
  • only eat one sweet thing each day (I eat WAY too many sweets and those add up quick!)
  • be accountable for every food or drink that I consume
  • make exercise more of a priority -- especially strength training because that helps keep injuries away
  • look for little ways to get extra exercise, like taking the stairs up to my 8th floor office
  • choose healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, more often than I don't
  • eat smaller, but reasonable, portions
  • look for little ways to take calories out of my diet, like not buttering my bread, not using as much salad dressing, etc.
  • stop eating when I'm SATISFIED (a lot of times, I stop when I'm FULL, then end up feeling stuffed later)
I think at some point I stopped believing little things could actually make a difference and therefore, stopped trying to do the little things. Now, I choose to believe that they will make a BIG difference and will practice them at every opportunity!

Question: Is there something that you have struggled with in your life and are either trying to change or have successfully changed? How did you do it???

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I'm thinking about this morning...

When I stepped outside this morning and felt the cool breeze and the slightly humid air, I was immediately overcome by a memory. For some reason, the feel and smell of the air reminded me of a trip I took last January with my mom to Sanibel, Florida. Getting up before the sun to run on the beach, collecting sea shells, the smell of the ocean, blueberry pancakes, and a distinct sense of renewal. This memory brought a smile to my face and will be my private (although, not so much anymore...) source of happiness and calm for the rest of the day.

What's your happy thought today?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Race Recap

I was planning to wait until my regular Thursday post to recap the race but I decided to do it NOW instead!

It all began Saturday with a Peeps caravan from Lincoln to Des Moines, IA...

Before I go any further, I have to explain to the blog world who the Peeps are... We are a group of runners who were in the "Very Beginning" training group for the Lincoln YMCA Marathon (or 1/2 Marathon) Class. We trained together, ate together, raced together, and have become great friends since January. We support each other when we're struggling or when we're injured, and we celebrate together when we have successes. We have added a couple of Peeps, and have a few "honorary Peeps" (spouses/significant others of full-fledged Peeps) since the group began, but the group comaraderie has remained the same. We are called "the Peeps" because Meghan (one of the group members) called us "her peeps" - you know, like "people" - and it became a running joke which just turned into a group name!

Phew. Ok. So, anyway... Saturday: Peeps caravan to Des Moines, followed by a quick trip to the race expo to pick up our race numbers and shirts and check out some of the clothing and gear vendors. Next, a few in the group went to church, some went to drive the race route, and I went back to the hotel room to get some rest. Later, we all went for a nice, relaxing pre-race dinner, then back to the hotel for a good night's sleep!

Sunday morning we were up bright and early for a little bit of fuel and a little bit of coffee. Luckily, our hotel was only a few blocks from the starting line, so we could walk down, use the bathroom at the YMCA, take a few pictures and get lined up in time for the race to start. Kaila and Rick were on their bikes and needed to take off to get to their first support spot (they were AWESOME! riding around, cheering, taking pictures, and generally providing moral support) and Jean was planning on a faster race, so we hugged it out, wished each other luck and went to our separate starting spots. Aaron planned to stay with us for the first mile or so, so he lined up with the rest of us. Once the race started, he stuck with us for about a quarter of a mile before he waved at me and took off! : )

My strategy going into the run was to take the first few miles nice and easy, then if I felt ok, pick it up. I did take the first four miles pretty easy, but I wasn't quite feeling the pace. I saw Beth (she was my very first running partner when I started back in 2007!) and Tabby about a quarter of a mile ahead, looked over and saw the 4 mile marker and thought, "This was in my plan, so I guess it's time to go!" I kept my eye on Beth's blue vest and set out to catch up to the two of them. Running through a gorgeous park, music in ears and loving every minute of what I was doing, I slowly but surely made my way up. We ran about four miles into a park, around a lake, then back out of the park where we spotted Rick and Kaila for the third time. Then it was into another park and over a bridge (pictured above) with the city on one side and lots of fall foliage on the other. With the light shining off of the lake, it was one of the prettiest sites I've seen in any race. Beth was really pushing the pace and I was lying most of the time when I said I was feeling good. I stuck with her until about 12.5 miles when I totally hit the wall. At that point, I just kept looking at my watch thinking, "Even if I have to walk to the finish, I'll still be under 2 hours and 30 minutes!" (2:30 was a time I would feel good about -- 5 minutes faster than my time for the Lincoln 1/2.)

FINALLY, I crossed the finish line! And when I looked at my watch, I saw that my time was around 2:26! I found out later that my real time was 2:26:16 -- a new Personal Record by about 9 minutes!!! Aaron, Beth and Lana also PR'd, and everyone else that ran did a great job, as well! After cheering all of the rest of the Peeps across the finish line and loading up on post-race snacks, we headed back to the hotel (up a very long, very cold hill) for some HOT showers! I can't remember a shower feeling that good before...

It was a great weekend for running and a great weekend with friends. I am feeling VERY SORE today, but also very motivated. Sometimes I feel motivated by failure and sometimes by success. This time, it is the feeling of accomplishment that is pushing me forward. I know that if I work hard to keep a good running base (fingers crossed that no injuries crop up this time) and get into better shape before I start training for my next half marathon, I can continue to get faster. I'll keep you posted on my efforts!

Question: What motivates you???

** Pictures:
#1 Aaron, me, Lana, Tabby, Meghan, and Beth before going to the expo on Saturday.
#2 Peeps before the start of the race. (Rick is in the bright yellow jacket, Kaila in blue on the other end.)
#3 Beth (in the blue) and me (in the white) in the middle of mile 9.
#4 The bridge.
#5 Jean, Tanya, Beth, Meghan, me, Aaron, Tabby, and Lana with our finishers' medals!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Weekends in Iowa

Right now, I am smack dab in the middle of two back-to-back weekend trips to Iowa. Last Friday, Aaron and I drove about 7 and a half hours to Waukon, which is in the Northeast corner of the state, so that I could be in one of my very best friend's wedding. Lacey (pictured, along with her new husband and me, playing the air fiddle to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia") was my roommate when I lived in Hastings a few years ago. We had some crazy times together and stood by each other during some rough spots. Even though we don't get to see each other very often anymore, she is still one of the best friends I've ever had. I wish her happiness in her new life with Matt.
Alamakee County, Iowa is a beautiful place - especially, I suspect, in the fall. We drove over hills and through valleys covered with trees of all colors. We went through cute little towns and over winding rivers. The park, where the wedding party took pictures on Saturday, was beautiful, too, except for the fact that we were in strapless dresses in 35 degree weather. Brrrr!!! Not to worry, though, I'm sure the photographer can photoshop the blue lips! After a whirlwind Saturday, full of hair appointments, pictures, wedding, reception, pie, and dancing, we headed back to the great state of Nebraska.
And ... I woke up Monday morning with the flu, which still hasn't gone away, and which I'm still trying to convince myself isn't the H1N1 (I'm almost positive it's NOT). This is very inconvenient because it puts a bit of a damper on the upcoming Iowa weekend... I have plans to run the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon on Sunday. I've been taking good care of myself, I think, with lots of rest (I stayed home all day Monday and since then have been leaving the house only to go to class, then come straight home again), lots of fluids, soup, etc. The thing I'm unsure about is what to eat... I sent a blog post from the No Meat Athlete (a marathon runner who just qualified for Boston) to all of my Des Moines-running Peeps, which said that you're supposed to eat a little less fat and a few more healthy carbs the whole week before the race. I have been eating less fat, I think, but doubt I've been eating more carbs, or food in general, than I normally do. If this were a normal week before a 1/2, I would probably up my calorie intake by about 200 per day, just to be sure I'm fueling well for the race. But this week, all I'm doing is laying around, so I haven't been increasing my intake any. I wonder if this is a big deal??? (Probably not.)
So, the Peeps caravan (plus Aaron, who is an honorary Peep) will be leaving for Des Moines on Saturday morning, checking into the hotel, picking up our race numbers and packets, probably walking around the pre-race expo for a while, then having a nice pasta dinner and getting to bed early. And Sunday morning is the race. My #1 goal is to start and finish the race. Second to that, I'd like to beat my previous 1/2 Marathon time. Anything beyond that, and I'll be ECSTATIC!!! : ) My #1 job between now and then??? GET HEALTHY! (Oh, and do a little homework, too.)
Good luck to all Des Moines runners, and to all of my Peeps doing the Governor's Run in Lincoln this weekend!
Oh, and expect a post-race recap next week -- hopefully with pictures!