Friday, December 30, 2011

Scared Straight but Not Running

I'm pretty sure that we all have our lists of favorite shows.  Shows that you make sure that you record and don't mind watching over and over again.  One of those shows is "Beyond Scared Straight" on A&E.  I can pretty much sum up my obsession with one name:

The stuff my nightmares are made of...
Diabla.  If that picture doesn't scare you,  then maybe you didn't realize that she's a woman.  I don't want to run into her EVER (behind bars or not).   The premise of the show is simple.  They take at-risk youth and take them into a prison so the inmates can scare them to death or scare them into changing their life.  I now come to complete stops at stop signs, never go a mile over the speed limit, and always say no to drugs for fear of meeting Diabla or anyone else remotely like her.   Job well done, BSS.

Last night there were multiple episodes on so, needless to say, I got suckered into staying up way later than I had intended.  My plan was to get up early and run this morning but after staying up until midnight that was a no go.  The last episode they showed had a 13 year old girl that threw up while one of the inmates was talking about pedophiles that dismember children's bodies.  Of course, they immediately insinuated that she was pregnant because her vice was soliciting older men on the Internet.  I could not go to bed without finishing the episode and finding out if it was true (it wasn't). 

That's a woman in the glasses too!
The reason I decided to post about this show is because they added a new dimension for the parents of the at-risk youth.  They made them sit in on a parenting class.  I absolutely LOVE this idea.  These children are exactly that: children.  While I think they have a great responsibility for their own actions, they are still minors and are probably acting out due to inadequate parenting anyway.  In no way do I think there is a universal way to parent but I think that parents should be required to take a certain amount of parenting classes per year or per kid.  It would just make the world a better place. 

Would you ever take a parenting class?

There is a Free Diabla Facebook Page, would you "like" it?

Monday, December 26, 2011

My favorite gifts of Christmas

My dad gives the greatest gifts.  He can often be a bah-humbug when it comes to Christmas so it's amazing that he even participates at all.  One year he bought me a shaving kit.  It's awkward getting that for Christmas anyway but from your dad????  Another year he went out and bought us all scratch tickets.  I'm pretty convinced that it was the ultimate last minute gift but it's now my most beloved family tradition (this year I won $25!). 

This year my dad was impressed by the progress I have made in my running so his gifts commemorated all the low points ;)

Maymont 8-Miler

DC Hot Chocolate 15k
Don't get me wrong, I really do love the gifts :)  In fact, the ornament my dad got me actually said mocha on it so he repainted it and added a Pandora running shoe charm.   I love it when you can actually see the thought and time someone has put into your gift....even if it does remind you of the worst race you have ever run.....ever.

The next gift is one that wasn't given to me but is one that my mom and dad gave to Alex (their future son-in-law).

For those of you that don't bowl 300's and don't have a different league for each night of the week, this is a rolling bowling bag.  It's way nicer than mine.  It truly says "Welcome to the family.  We like you better than Andrea."  I'm not kidding.  My brothers gave him bowling shoes too.  I still wear the stinky rentals at the bowling alley!

Finally, the last gift is one that I gave.  It was something that I gave to Alex that was really something I wanted but thought maybe he would think it was cool too and I could pass it off as a Christmas gift for him.


I'm sooo excited to try some of these recipes!  Mmm, Katniss' favorite lamb stew with dried plums and Capitol-grade dark chocolate cake.  Each recipe includes a reference from which book and chapter that relates to it.  There is even a chapter devoted to recipes using small rodents!  Anyone else smell a theme night coming on???
What was your favorite gift?

Do you ever give something so that you can end up using it?

Make New Friends but Keep the Old...

A very fun thing happened over my Christmas vacation....

I didn't just go to Starbucks but I went and got Starbucks with Emily!  I'm pretty sure that I have known Emily forever....well at least, known of her.  We initially met in the good ol' days of elementary school and continued our educational journey through the same middle school and high school too.  In college, we went our separate ways and I'm pretty sure that neither one of us gave the other much thought for the next ten years (oh my...we are old).

Through social networking (ahem, Facebook) and the demise of the importance of face-to-face interactions, Emily and I have become reacquainted again :)  Even though she doesn't live in our hometown anymore, she came to visit her family for Christmas and suggested we meet up for a run.  I was completely excited for the chance to catch up and run with her.  Even though I run with the running club, I always seem to end up running by myself.  I figured if it's just me and her and she's as nice as I remembered her being, then she would feel obligated to stick with me ;)

On Saturday, we met up and completed nine miles together.  I'm not sure how the whole PDR (personal distance record) goes but this is the furthest I have gone outside of an organized race.   We ran up Rt 123 and thank goodness Emily was there because I'm pretty sure she saved me from speeding cyclists on more than one occasion.  I have to be the most oblivious runner ever.  To congratulate ourselves on a run well done and me not getting killed by a cyclist, we went to Starbucks.

On Christmas we rested and on Monday we met up again for four miles.  I enjoyed this run so much more than the nine we did on Saturday. Not only was it less than half the distance but we were running on my turf so I knew exactly where we were going and where the turn around point would be.  Knowing the route makes such a difference in my motivation!  All in all it was a couple of great runs with good company :)

Have you reconnected with anyone through Facebook?

NYC Recap 2011

Just a warning but this is going to be one of those run-on posts that chronicles the past week or so....

Christmas started early with a great trip to New York City!  This was my first trip to the city and it was made possible because Nina is working there and Alex and I were able to crash at her place for free :)  It was a whirlwind trip of two and a half days so we tried to pack our time with tons of touristy things.
I'll have what she's having!

I have to admit, the food there was pricey but pretty amazing!   My opinion may have been skewed since I decided we should walk three miles to get there rather than taking the train.  Lesson learned.

That's a lot of meat! ;)

We also got suckered into Serendipity 3.  I thought the movie was so cute and that the actors would have good taste in food.  No, they do must have been about the ambiance.  We had an ordinary turkey sandwich (thank goodness we split our meal so we only had to be half disappointed) and ended the meal with frozen hot chocolate. 

Oprah made Serendipity 3 doubly popular by raving about their frozen hot chocolate so we had a two hour wait to get a table.  Oprah and I have different standards for our desserts.  Thanks, Oprah.  I was only mildly impressed.  Chocolate slurpee anyone?  No thanks.

I have wanted to see the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular for years.  They are my favorite part of the Macy's parade and when I found out that they had a Christmas show, I had to see it.  Since we are saving money for a wedding, Alex told me we wouldn't be able to see them on this trip because the tickets were too expensive but in true Alex style, he surprised me with tickets anyway :) 

Apparently, I am the girl with unachievable expectations because I felt that the show was fun but left something to be desired.  I still love the Rockettes but will reserve that love for watching them in the parade.  I will entertain the idea of participating in the Rockettes' experience for next Christmas!

Here are some NYC things that did meet my expectations:
Piano show on the BIG piano at FAO Schwarz...
They played carol of the bells complete with cartwheels!

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Dylan's Candy Bar :)
The best part of NY was getting to know my future sister-in-law (cheesy, I know).  I had a great time and I am excited to visit again!

Thanks, Nina!
What's your favorite part of NYC?

Are you a sucker for tourist traps too?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Way to go, Target.

I hate to admit it but I was cursing Target last night.  I took Julia to the doctor yesterday morning because she had complained of having pain in her ear .  With my upcoming trip to New York, I decided I should get it checked out and make sure it wasn't an ear infection. 

I have to admit that I was a little unsure about how she was feeling because the only time that she complained about her ear hurting was when I was trying to get her to take a nap.  I didn't want to chance it though so I decided to take her to the doctor.  Kids have a very special way of making you look like an idiot some times. 

Not only was she not running a fever but my child was doing cartwheels and acting like a crazy woman.  I'm pretty sure that no one believed a word that I said about her complaining about her ear hurting.  My ego was saved when the doctor confirmed that she did have an ear infection in both ears.

I'm not sure what genius thought it would be cool to make the medicine dropper look like a syringe but Julia was terrified.  You would have thought I was trying to kill her by the way she was acting when I gave her the medicine.  Geez.  I need to get her started on swallowing pills ASAP. 

Really, Target?
Anwyay, I got my butt out of bed this morning and actually worked out!  Hallelujah!  I might keep the weight gain to ten pounds instead of twenty...haha.  I did a very easy two miles on the treadmill and then finished up with some squat jumps on the bosu and weight lifting.  I have to admit that I have missed strength training since ending my sessions with Patrice.  I have asked Santa for weights this year so I'm keeping my fingers crossed :)

I'm off to NY!  Any suggestions on what to do in NY at Christmas time?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Candy Making 101

Alex and I had a couple of parties to go to on Saturday.  I decided to be a good guest and bring a treat to share.  I usually bring my pecan tassies (mini pecan pies of heaven) but they are pretty labor intensive so I decided to make some English toffee instead. 

Toffee is so delicious but it's a very temperamental thing that requires soo much patience and attention.  You constantly have to stir the mixture while it is cooking or else it will burn.  Alex and I took turns stirring but never once took the spoon out of the mixture while switching off.  Finally, when I removed the spoon so I could pour it onto the pan, this is what I found...

Somehow, I didn't think people would enjoy toffee with melted plastic in it.

Paula Deen would be proud
Life is about learning from your mistakes, right?  The second batch turned out MUCH better....

caution: you will gain weight just looking at this picture

The first party was at the home of Alex's coworker, Eileen.  I definitely did not leave with an empty stomach.  The food spread was crazy delicious!  After stuffing my face, I spent the rest of the party feeding my baby fever by holding precious, three-week old Nolan.  Life was very good that night :)

Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, we headed out to an ugly Christmas sweater party.

I'm so glad that my mom has plenty of crazy Christmas sweaters.  I borrowed this one from her and wore it as a dress.  I put a string of tinsel around the bottom and BOOM!  You're looking at the first place winner of the ugly sweater contest!  Alex and I also had the good fortune to walk away with those velveteen Santa boxers from the white elephant gift exchange.  This party was soo much fun!

He's all mine.  You're Welcome, Ladies!
Do you love or hate ugly Christmas sweater parties?

Have you ever melted anything while cooking?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vices are Nicest

Is it still a vice if it is helping you to get attain a healthy goal?   I hope so because I have taken the leap!  I will be running another half marathon!

I have never been a runner that set timed goals for myself until recently.  I was always ecstatic if I was able to finish the whole race without walking at all and only focused on increasing my mileage and race completion.  I've used a Nike+ for quite some time but never really paid much attention to the pace.  It was merely my odometer. 

I think it has actually been this blog that has inspired me to keep track of my pace and set more ambitious goals for myself.  Well, probably not MY blog but all the other blogs that I have started reading since starting this blog.  For instance, some bloggers are running 50 mile races and make my sad attempt at a half marathon look um, sad.  I still think they are crazy but it makes me feel like a marathon might not be that insane to attempt ;)

Just a mere twenty-four weeks until I get my second chance at half marathon glory.  I have to admit, it won't take much to beat my previous time of 3:22:27But my goal for this half is 2:22:00 (10:50 min/mile).  I'm actually running as part of the Lake Ridge RidgeRunners team so I feel like I have to meet this goal not only for myself but for them as well.....and now for all of you :)

What race are you training for?

Do you think Hershey would put on a better chocolate race than RAM racing?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dogs, sick kid and WMG

Teleworking days are my most favorite day of the week!  First off, I love my lunch break runs.  They are a little nerve wracking for me because of the time crunch but it definitely keeps me from slowing down!  On my run yesterday, I decided to cut out a mile since I was a little late in getting started. 

This run was one of my more adventurous runs.  I was on the last mile of my run and I saw a dog on the other side of the road that did not appear to be tied up.  It was a small dog and it seemed to be staying on the sidewalk.  Go ahead and judge me but I tried to avoid eye contact with it so it would stay where it was and I could finish my run.  Well, the plan failed.  I kept glancing over just to be sure he was staying put and apparently that was enough to spark his interest in chasing after me.  In order to do so, he began crossing the street.  Eff.  I saw the cars coming for him and I summoned all the officer skills I had, dashed into the street, stopped traffic and chased him onto the sidewalk again.

Santa will not bring you any presents if you let me die.
Thank goodness the little yapper was friendly.  The tag showed that he belonged to the house on the corner.  I knocked, rang the door bell and waited.  Apparently, no one was home.  There was a big dog in the fenced backyard.  I went ahead and threw the small dog in with him and prayed the other dog was a vegetarian ;)  The big dog didn't eat him right away so I was able to finish my run with peace of mind (and my best mile -- 8:36.4!)

Since I was teleworking, I had time to make a special holiday meal for my kid :)  Christmas Town was not kind to her and she has been coughing nonstop and running a fever ever since.  I have to admit that I have a pretty good case of WMG (Working Mother's Guilt) so I wanted to do something that would cheer her up since I couldn't spend another day taking care of her.

Ta-Da!  Snowman Pizza
Followed by a healthy dose of sugar :)
She was pretty satisfied with my efforts and somehow I felt like a better mom :) 

Are you judging me for initially not wanting to help the poor dog?

Do you have WMG?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Highway Robbery Town

Yesterday I went out on my first run with the Lake Ridge RidgeRunners down Prince William Parkway.  I have always thought of the parkway as hilly but of course, the hills were one hundred feet bigger when running up them.  I have learned to never look a gift hill in the mouth.  It works so much better for me to stare at the five feet in front of me rather than the top of the hill. 

I ended up running six miles and overall my pace was 9:15 min/mile.  I thought that was pretty good for all the hills!  My dad started the run with me but ended up hanging back with one of his friends.  So I ended up tackling the hills by myself.  I think I have decided that I put a lot more into my runs when I run by myself.  I tend to be a bit of a baby when I run with others....especially my dad.

Later that day we drove down to Williamsburg for Christmas Town!

Gotta rest up before the festivities!
Do not adjust your computers....this picture is really that dark :(

I like the idea of Christmas Town but was a little disappointed with it.  The park didn't open up until 3pm and since there were limited rides and shows, there were lines EVERYWHERE.  At $18 a ticket, I expected a lot more.

The penguin exhibit was one of the most disappointing.  We stood in line ten times as long as it took to go through the exhibit.  Here is the exhibit in pictures:

First Display

Fake Filler Penguins attempting to make the display seem worth the wait....
I'm only smiling because I think we still have a lot more to see.
Second and Final Display....The End.
 I have to admit that the park was absolutely beautiful after the sun set and they turned on all of the lights.

I still don't feel like it was worth all the money and the two hour drive down there.  It would have been a lot better if they had opened the park up earlier.  There were other shows that we didn't get to go to since we were too busy waiting in line for one show and the sky ride over the park.  I would have been so much happier if they had opened at noon.

Do you spend exorbitant amounts of money for Christmas-y activities?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Like a Bowl full of Jelly

I'm not sure but I don't think this is the way you are supposed to wear a running pak....


Apparently the path of least resistance is up over my belly rather than staying on my hips.  I spent the first two miles of my run trying to convince it to stay on my hips and then I gave up.  It was more exhausting trying to keep my shirt and the pak down.  It got to where it wanted to be and the boobs kept the running pak snugly in place. 

I only did a short three miles on my lunch break yesterday.  It was a rough run.  I just wasn't feeling it.  The extra holiday pounds  and tight calves from my barefoot P90 were definitely slowing me down.  It's a shame too because the weather was absolutely perfect for a run.   Today looks like it will be just as nice so I will try for a better run today :)

I could possibly run faster today because I annihilated hundreds of brain cells by watching this....

Doodlebops = copious amounts of coke

What happened to quality Saturday morning tv?

Do you have a running pak?  Does yours stay in place?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sweaty Date Nights

It was a very unwelcome surprise this morning when I got in my car and couldn't see out of the windshield.  So far this year, I have been able to get away with using the windshield wipers to clear it off but this morning I needed my scraper.  I love spring, summer and fall but please, go away winter! 

I seriously need to get more winter running gear if I am planning on doing any outdoor runs for the next four months.  I have also been contemplating whether or not it's time to get some new running shoes.  For some reason, I thought I bought my current shoes a lot longer ago than I have.  It has only been three months.  Apparently, I should be buying new shoes every  300-400 miles but let's be real, I'm not keeping track (nor do I think I have run that much in these shoes).  I'll sit tight for now...

I have not been for an outdoor run since the race last Saturday.  Call me busy, lazy, or whatever.  It just hasn't been happening.  I would be more likely to run if I had someone to run with.  It was so great when I lived at home and could head out for a run with my dad.  I love having someone to talk to because it makes the time pass quickly.  I have often tried to convince Alex to try running with me....

He doesn't seem to understand how running a distance more than the 90 feet between home plate and first base would be worth his time.  I guess I can't complain too much though since he is more than willing to hold down the fort while I go for a run.  He's not opposed to other forms of exercise though.  For the first time last night, we did the P90 video together.  The couple that works out together stays together, right?

How about the couple that one works out
while the other documents the occasion?
Despite Alex's recommendation, I decided to exercise without any shoes on.  I have been intrigued about barefoot running and there was a small amount jogging in place during the P90 DVD so I consider that a small sampling of what it could be like.  Overall, P90 was good bonding time with Alex and any elevation in heart rate is a step in the right direction, however I will not rely on this to be my sole means of physical fitness.  Today I had some stiffness in my calves but that's about it.  Maybe the barefoot exercising worked in strengthening different muscles than I usually use when running?

Do you exercise with others or do you prefer solitude?

Would you try barefoot running?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Coupon Sweatshop

They say the key to being a good parent is quality time with your child, not quantity.  I whole heartedly agree.  In fact, what's better than spending quality time with your child AND teaching them to be thrifty.  Today was FULL of quality, thrifty time :)

First stop of the day was Kohl's.   I heart Kohl's.  I bought three things there and paid less than $12.  This store always has some sort of coupon out and sales going on, which results in one happy momma.  I had $30 of Kohl's cash and a $10 coupon.  I got $52 dollars worth of merchandise for $12?  Score one for momma!

Next up, we hit the thrift store.  I wasn't really looking for anything in particular but found some good jeans for Julia for five dollars.  I didn't feel too triumpant about it though because it's a thrift store.  Shouldn't I be getting them for a buck?

Finally, we headed home for an afternoon of mother-daughter bonding over coupons!

She was so excited about cutting coupons with me.  She even devised a great work schedule for us.  "Momma, after every three coupons we cut, we can have a free drink of water!"  Yeah, we take coupons very seriously in this house. 

To finish off our day of penny pinching, we decided to entertain ourselves for free by seeing who's head was harder.  Head shoving??? My daugher is so weird, she loved it.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, eh?

Do you score amazing deals with coupons?

What weird games do you play with your child?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Inappropriate or TOO Sensitive?

Today's post has nothing to do with anything really.  Not about the healthy rabbit food I ate or the amazing workout I did.  I just wanted to complain.  Apparently, one of the offices on our floor has hired a pathetic employee.  It's only been in the last two weeks that I have seen her and it is always in the same place.....the bathroom.  Not only do I see her in the bathroom all the time but she has never once been in the bathroom actually using the facilities.

Is no place sacred anymore?   When I am trying to get comfortable and do my business, the last thing that I want to hear is your middle school flirtations on the phone.  And what does the person on the other end of the phone think?  How about just talking on your fifteen minute breaks in a location other than where people are dropping deuces?

What irks you?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hot Mess 15k

When I woke up yesterday morning, I thought the most trying part of my day would be waking up at 4:30am to meet up with Jenny to run the Hot Chocolate 15k.   

I was prepared for a chilly morning but I wasn't too worried about it since I knew I would warm up quickly once we started running. We arrived at Rosecroft Raceway around 6:15am and took a shuttle to National Harbor.  Luckily, our shuttle got us to National Harbor around 7:00am.  I was kind of glad that we had some time to relax before the race because there was some business that I had to attend to.  I should have been careful what I wished for because of "highway accidents" and course problems, the 15k was over an hour late starting.  One good thing was that there was a ton of port-o-potties and I didn't have to wait in line for a single second.  But that was the absolute best part of the race.

Once the race began, it didn't get any better.  There were twenty thousand runners and enough room to run about six across the entire race.  The first out and back portion of the run was actually on a highway that was not shut down all the way.  There were actually dump trucks right next to us.  I know they were being supportive but horns right in your ear and breathing in exhaust fumes is not my ideal running situation. 

The water stops during the race left something to be desired.  There was water in gatorade cups and gatorade in water cups.  At each stop, I had to wait for a cup to be filled for me (mental note:  bring hand held water bottle to future races).    Although I really appreciated all the port-o-potties before the race, I felt that there could have been more on the course.  My longest bathroom wait was on the course, boo.  Also, since the race took so long to start, the temperature warmed up quite a bit before we actually started so when I stopped to use the restroom, I also decided to take my long sleeve shirt off (mental note:  wear long layers over short layers). 

Once the out and back was done, we got to run down hill for a while.  At the bottom of the hill, we ran a loop through a construction site.  I suppose we could see a bit of the harbor but seriously?  It really felt that they were bs-ing the course and just trying to get some mileage tacked on wherever they could.   The most beautiful part of the course was possibly the most dangerous part.  We were on a small path near the harbor that was covered in crushed shells.  The path was no more than six feet across with a steep drop off to the water.  They didn't have any cones or anything near the edge.  After that lovely jaunt by the water, we ran through a corrugated tunnel.  I am weird and get motion sick by looking backwards in car so this tunnel really messed with me.  I had to look at the ground the entire time. 

The end of the race was up a hill.  Again, God bless the volunteers for doing the best they could, but there just weren't enough of them to help all the runners.  I had to open a case of water to get my own water bottle and I had to wait for five people ahead of me to get a cup of gatorade. 

The race was not a full 15k.  My Garmin clocked my run at 9.14 miles.  I guess I should have kept running up to the post-race party that was up the hill because I probably could have made up the last .16 miles. 

Thanks for the pic, Charlie!
The fondue was good.  The hot chocolate was good.  I truly did not want the hot chocolate because I felt like it was a little warm for it but I paid $65 dollars for it so I drank every drop.  They also gave out some squares of Ghirardelli chocolate.  Compared to the other issues of this race, this one is insignificant but what the heck was up with the flavors?

What happened to good ol' milk chocolate or caramel or peanut butter?

  In short, this was the worst race that I have done so far.  I loved running my first race with Jenny but we will have to sign up for another for sure!  Good news though....

I met my goal!  It could have been even better if there weren't a million people in the way!  Oh well.  I will stick to non-RAM races in the future.

What has been your worst race experience?

What is the best thing to have at a race?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jiggle Jiggle

That's right, I'm fist pumping as I crossed the finish line at the Turkey Trot!    This course was an out and back so it was super fun to cheer on the faster runners that were lapping me by fist pumping.  I'm telling you, it's exhilarating and you must try it.  I'm still working on ways to incorporate it into an everyday run by myself...
Look at me! 
 Yesterday was a telework day and was lucky enough to go out and run 5.34 miles.  I wore both the Garmin and my Nike + and the total distance was very different.  Garmin said 5.34 miles and Nike + said 4.94 miles.  What the? 

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with my performance.  I have been eating a ton of sweets lately and have gained five pounds or so.  I swear to you, I could feel every pound of those sweets jiggling on my booty while I ran.  It was so weird.  Note to self:  eat less sweets and run more.  I will be a happy camper if I can lose the five pounds by Christmas, therefore not adding insult to injury ;)

It's only a couple days until the 15k and I have only recently began to think about how I will maintain energy throughout the race and what I will wear.  I have run this distance before and I'm pretty sure I just used the Power Gel blasts every couple of miles or so to maintain energy.   I can't compare them to anything else since these are the only things I have tried.  As for what I will wear, my new gloves and smartwool socks  are at the top of the list.  I have some random moisture-wicking tights that I will wear but they are intended as a layering piece and not necessarily for running.  I'm still trying to decide if I should wear one long sleeved shirt or two....hmmm...

What do you use to stay energized during long runs?

Is your booty jiggling after too much pumpkin pie?