This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great Workouts

Since I tend to have 'negative' slants on my workouts, I thought I'd share my high moments of the week: two days in a row of great workouts.

Thursday was a five mile run for Frank and I. Frank suggested running from a different area, but following the same route we take through Umstead. The change of starting points was great because we avoided all the hills that we get when starting from the gym.

I wasn't particularly looking forward to the run. I've been in an 'unmotivated' slump lately. Monday, for instance, I was going to blow off the four mile run but Tim looked at me like I was insane "It won't take that long!" So I did it. And I did Tuesday's. And Wednesdays. And now Thursday comes along and I'm in just robotic we go again.

But Thursday ended up being the bomb. My legs felt great. Our pace was perfect and I noticed that I became Chatty Cathy and just yammered on and on during the run. Poor Frank. I don't think I had anything particularly interesting to say either...

These runs are those runs that make you WANT to run. Exhilarating.

Friday is swim day for me. I am not a comfortable swimmer. Yes, many people say that but mine is not so much technique as it is just some stupid anxiety about swimming in a pool around other people. It's very superficial that's hard to explain.

Anyway, I usually swim with fins, do some back floats, grab the kickboard, lots of things to get my yards in. Friday's workout was just to get 850 yards in. I decided to do 400 with fins, 400 with the pull buoy, and then 50 all on my own. The last 50 I was not looking forward to. Lots of people in the pool -- and at least one of them was looking at me underwater.

I noticed that once I got to the pull buoys part of my workout, I was feeling pretty confident. My breathing was great and I was taking shorter and shorter breaks between each length/lap. Either the pull buoy is easier to swim with than fins, or I was becoming more efficient swimming. And again, comfort eased in so I was relaxed and didn't have anxiety issues...which helped, when I gulped a bunch of water mid-swim, and continued on as though it never happened. This is HUGE for me.

I finished the 'easy' parts and now, the 50 yards on my own. I've been wanting to swim solo since I started but have been hesitant. I know it will be harder, since I've been using tools to help ease the swim, and I know I'll be slower. I even imagined that I would go nowhere...but...I decided, I will do 25 yards no matter what and if it's too hard, I will just float on my back for the last 25 yards.

I go for it and 25 yards later, I'm done and I'm feeling great. It wasn't hard. It wasn't slow (don't be fooled, I wasn't fast either) so I did the last 25 yards on my own too. And that became the highlight of my week: swimming 50 yards on my own. It's a major accomplishment for me that has built a new found confidence in me.

Let's hope I can get my big head through the doors now...:-)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Strange Days

Today was a good day but also weird.

At the pool today, someone started talking to me. This is weird. It's one thing to be at a gym and have a conversation, but in the pool?

And to back up: I am a nervous pool swimmer. I am working back through some unknown trauma of swimming among the masses, so talking to me while attempting to swim is not a good thing for me.

But I have been easing my swim anxiety so I wasn't _that_ troubled by being, um, interrupted, by this person.

But it was still weird:

Stranger-in-the-pool: Hi.
Me (relaxing after a full 25 yard swim, with fins): Um, hi...
Stranger-in-the-pool: My name is Ben.

So I give him my name and he chats more. He asks what department I worked; where he worked, blah blah blah. Fine. I wasn't perturbed although a bit thrown. He mentioned how he had seen me underwater. ?????

He mentioned that he had noticed my artwork so I described what I was getting done (tattoo). He mentioned another girl who had a full back tattoo -- a girl I am aware of -- and I mentioned how I loved her tattoo...and that I like the irony of it all: this beautiful, angelic face of a girl, with a full back tattoo. He agreed then said "and you're beautiful too". Not sure if this was a courtesy "beautiful" comment, since I was admiring another girl for her beauty...or if he meant it. But it was odd.

So finally, we get back to swimming and during another rest break for me, he continues to converse. He adds that he really likes my other tattoo and me, who likes to display my artwork, lifts my leg out of the water to show him my tattoo on my calf. As I'm doing it I am thinking, WTF am I doing?

But you know what he did? While I provide the history of the what, when, why of the tattoo, he puts his goggles on and sinks into the water to look at my leg (which I had put back into the water after I realized what a bold move that probably was, lifting it out)...

WEIRD! And I think I handled it well because, as my friends know (but I haven't yet described in detail here), I am a very paranoid, delusional person. Not only paranoid about strange men who are strangers talking to me, but to talk to me under the duress of attempting to swim. A double-whammy. So kudos to me for not panicking and finishing my workout!

It doesn't end there. I did another thing that is so unlike me.

I was rushing out at the end of the day...excited about a new hair appointment at a new salon. I have been looking forward to this all week, all day. And then, in the elevator (where it all happens for me), the other passenger was providing idle chit-chat with me. He then fishes through his briefcase for his keys (he says this out loud) and then says "ah...I know where they are."

I had to be nice...and I mean that like an OCD person, I *had* to be nice, so I asked if they (the keys) were in there. He said no, that he left his car with Colony Tires, which is a auto place across the street from the campus that we work at.

The elevator continues, no other talk between us...but that awkward walking out of the elevator together, and into the parking lot in the same direction.

Again, this strange OCD person in me speaks without permission from me and asks the stranger-in-the-elevator "Do you have a ride to Colony Tire?" and he replied with no, he was going to walk to it.

And in that split second that I could have said "have a good day then" I said "Want a ride?" As soon as I said it, I was envisioning slapping the OCD person in me while he said "as long as it's not out of your way!"

So I did it. I gave a hitchhiker a ride to Colony Tire. I can't believe it. I stammered throughout the 3 minute drive to there because I was afraid of the uncomfortable silence that could happen during the drive over.

And get this: he introduced himself as soon as he sat in the passenger side of MY CAR. I didn't even frickin' know his name!!! I gave a man a ride that I didn't know!!! Not even his name!!! WTF has happened to me?

I lived to tell the tale. Maybe that's all that counts...and I met two new people?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Killing the Death Penalty

I read the article below, where New Mexico (NM) has nixed the death penalty. Apparently, NM is the the 15th state to repeal the death penalty.

I know here in NC, executions have stopped while resolving an issue of whether a doctor should be present during the actual execution.

But Governor Richardson's decision had nothing to do with this NC medical dilemma. It had everything to do with our criminal justice system. Governor Richardson supports the death penalty but he believes our current criminal justice system is flawed and therefore, can not allow the possibility of an innocent man being put to death.

And I can't blame him. And it surprised me greatly to read this.

I have been a slight supporter of the death penalty. I never really know if I want to support it or not, mainly from the humanity aspect. But at some point, probably from 'memorizing' the details of how a person was killed, I thought: you know, death is not that bad for these mother fuckers. It's too easy. But Kill Em All anyway...we don't need those stinking type of people in this world.

And I still feel that way. I think that if you carjack a car, and drag a young innocent child to death in the act of your stupidity, then you should be beaten to a pulp and suffer undying pain until you fucking die. Reading any of the crimes these assholes have committed on also makes me want to pull the lever.

I have nothing but hatred for these vile imbeciles.

But I want to be sure that the vile imbecile is the guilty person before you put the easy death upon him.

And Richardson is *so* right. Our fucked up criminal justice system is FUCKED UP. It has become a game of who can beat who (on 'higher' profile type cases), not who actually did it; or the armchair investigator that KNOWS the person did it and wraps the whole story around the evidence to make it so (read Bloodsworth). Or you are just the poor sucker that gets stuck with the idiot new lawyer, who has no interest or ability to clear an innocent man.

And if you follow The Innocence Project, you would know that there are still zillions of people in prison (not necessarily on death row) that have DNA evidence ready to be tested, in hopes of being exonerated of their crime. And there are zillions of people who have been exonerated...and were on death row for a crime they did not commit.

And I cannot stand the idea of someone completely innocent imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. And on top of that, the mother fucker out there that gets away with the crime. Imagine, if you will, the horror of being put to death for something completely untrue.

I am not sure I can say that I am completely opposed to the death penalty. But I can say that I do agree with Gov. Richardson 100%. It makes a little bit of a quandary on my stand, doesn't it? I just want the guilty to be prosecuted and persecuted and the innocent to remain free.

News Story:
Governor Richardson repeals the death penalty because the criminal justice system is flawed.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Hole In My Sock

Not really. But that's what I thought when I got done with my kick-my-ass track workout.

The workout today was a two mile warm-up with *three* miles of in-and-out 200s. For me, that was at a :55/1:05 pace throughout. I tried not to think too much about it. But when I met Frank to head on over to the gym, he said to me "Are you really going to do that workout?! It sounds hard! I can't believe she has you doing that! Do you realize that it's an 8 mn mile for three miles?!"

No, Frank, I didn't. I said in my head. Now, I'm getting a little frightened.

My hubby Tim met us at the gym and we did the killer run that goes UP, UP, and UP. And it's not a small incline. It's sharp, and gradually continues up. But after the UP, it's sort of flat and easy to get the 1.5 to 2 mile run right to the track.

Tim ducked out for his 1.5 warm-up while Frank and I continued for our 2 mile warm-up. The weather had just a slight chill in the wind. Later, I would notice that I would be happy with my long-sleeved shirt at one side of the track, then be angry and want to tear it off at the other side of the track, due to being insanely hot.

Frank decided to do the original workout he intended. He didn't think he could do mine. I didn't think I could either, but I was going to give it my best shot.

As usual, the first few 400s were not bad. I made 0:55 seconds for the first 200 and that would be the last time I would do it. Ha! You'd like to think I went faster? But I didn't. But it wasn't too bad. It varied between :56 and :58 seconds, so not bad. I internalized that I wanted to make sure it remained under a minute.

The 1:05 200s were surprisingly easier than I anticipated. I don't mean they were easy to run, although compared to the 0:55, they certainly were. But the fact that after 1.25 miles, I was ready to walk after my attempts to hit :55 but I would find that the 1:05 was enough time to keep it brisk (not a jog) and actually find enough in me to start another 200 fast. And for the most part, I kept the 1:05 under 1:05, except for the third mile, where a three of 200s dipped to 1:07 and 1:08. But the last 200 @ 1:05 was a 1 minuter. So I ended well.

But this was sooooo hard. As I approached 1.5 miles, I told myself I could take a walk break. But a couple of guys -- the fast ones -- encouraged me on with the "looking good; keep strong" words. I know that it was obvious on my face that I was in full concentration mode. And that they recognized it and encouraged me was AWESOME that I decided to forgo a break.

As I approached mile two, knowing that I had only four more laps to go, I also thought of giving myself a walk break; drink some water. I needed to fuel up for the last four laps. But I also knew that the satisfaction of continuing without stopping would be "the bomb". Even if it meant that my pace would suffer a little bit, I thought it would be the greater feeling to finish the workout as written vs. taking a little break, that I know no one would care about me doing.

So my ego won out -- I finished the workout. Three miles of nearly an 8 mn pace solid. I told Tim on the way back that for me, during a training run, I can talk myself into pushing hard. That the difference between what I did today and what I do during races is that I *would* have taken that walk break instead of pushing myself to go a little further. I would give in. Why that is, I don't know but my hope is that these types of workouts will brainwash my brain into knowing I can push because I am capable of going that fast.

So I was happy to be finished. No real aches and pains, even running track in my trail shoes (I need new running shoes!). I got to the locker room, took my shoes off and noticed skin peeking through my sock. Huh. These are one of my favorite pairs of socks and now I got a hole? I thought to myself. But upon further investigation, I realized it was not flesh peeking through but blood.

WTF? So I took the sock off and noticed blood all around my pinky toe nail on my right foot. I didn't notice any pain. I had not noticed that this particular toe had any issues, so I was blindsided :-). The only thing I thought of was that perhaps my nail was a tad too long and it dug into the skin during the run...or that the shoes are too tight at the toe area (where I need more room) and it made my nail dig into my skin. Or perhaps, both are what caused it.

I blew it off and cleaned up to get back to work. It was then that I noticed that my feet seemed to have a lot of room in my boots. The same boots I wore all winter without any issues. And suddenly, my feet had quite a bit of space in the boot, to the point that I had to squish my toes to keep the boots less slippy. And because I knew my pinky toe had bled, suddenly, I thought that my pinky toe was in pain...and squishing it against my boots was not a good thing.

Did I run so hard that I made my toe bleed? I don't care. It was worth it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tomorrow Wendy is Going to Die

This is one of the main lyrics from the song "Tomorrow, Wendy".

I know this song from Concrete Blonde's Bloodletting album (awesome band, awesome album). It is an amazing song with lyrics that send chills into me.

The song was originally written by Andy Prieboy about a woman dying from AIDS. It doesn't matter. The song, at least from Johnette Napolitano's heartfelt voice, is sad, angry, and emotional and can be attributed to any tragic pain.

I listened to this again this morning on the way into work. It seems that when I listen to this song, something in the media is triggering the emotional feelings that I empathize with. Today, it was Liam Neeson's pain of losing his wife. I hate to think that one day, this is an emotion I may feel...

There is debate on whether there is an atheistic overtone in the lyrics:

"I told the priest
Don't count on any second coming
God got his ass kicked
The first time he came down here slumming!
He had the balls to come
The gall to die
And then forgive us!
No I don't wonder why,
I wonder what he thought it would get us."

I don't know if it matters. It's obviously angry and I can relate. These are the lines that sends me chills, and takes my breath away each time I hear this song:

"Only God says "jump"
So I say "in good time"
Cause if he ever saw it
It was through these eyes of mine
And if he ever suffered
It was me who did his crying."

Awesome song. I plan to check out Andy Prieboy's original version. But Johnette sings this one through her soul too. BTW, she does a great version (even better, IMO) of Coldplay's "The Scientist".

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Tragic Story

I read about this article several weeks ago and couldn't get it out of my head.

I remember reading the original story about the loss of three young Chinese college students, killed in an auto accident in Ohio. I soon learned how even more tragic their deaths were to the lives of the family left behind. I had no idea what families did to help bring sustenance into their lives. In many cases, it is scrounging up as much money as you can from friends, neighbors, strangers, to send your children to college so that _they_ can get a job and earn money for their families.

In this case, the three students killed were the ONLY child for each family. Not only did they lose their child in another country, but they lost the only hope they had for money. And on top of that, having no means to repay the people who loaned them (what little they had) the money.

This story haunts my memory.

read more | digg story

This Week's Runs in Review

Monday was a four mile recovery run. This was the only day of the week that my legs felt "not tired". I ran a clockwise route to end at a track to do some strides. I usually forget to do the strides, usually concentrating on the run but I was very proud of myself for remembering. The one thing that did strike me about Monday's run was that each mile felt like forever. It reminded me of my Coach Bubba race in February, where I couldn't believe how each mile felt so long. Monday's run I truly felt like I had missed most of the morning with this run...

Tuesday was my fartlek day. The workout included:
4:00, 3:00, 2:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 up-tempo; 1/2 rest after each interval.
It looked decent on paper.

Brennan said I could run this on the track but the road would be more fun. She said not to worry about distance, just up the tempo during the times. Well, I decided running on the track _would_ be fun vs. the hilly paths around the area.

The problem with that? I did exactly what she said not to do and figured out what I can do on the track in 4 minutes so I was constantly estimating where I should be running my time. And "should be" is not necessarily equivalent to this workout because "should be" is where I would be doing speed training and running at a top speed. Brennan did say that I didn't need to go all out but about 10K pace. Well, I didn't even estimate that and just ran.

This tired me out. Running 4 minutes at a fast pace is not easy (for me). I managed to jog the rests after each interval, except for one of the 1 mn rests and 1:30 mn rests. And those minutes just flew while the fartlek times were slow. This. Wore. Me. Out. One of the three other folks on the track did say, from his own rest on the sideline, "Keep it up! Keep it strong!" He must have seen the pain on my face but those few words actually worked and I remained steady-eddie the rest of the workout.

But it was this day that I thought to myself "I am really tired of running." And even though I do a lot of self-deprecation about my runs, I generally don't dislike it. I love running -- that's why I do it! But there's a difference in getting physically tired of running and then just being mentally tired of it. Tuesday was when I felt mentally (and physically) tired of running.

Wednesday was a much needed day off from running (I still did a workout: P90X, which is not easy). Very needed as I had a five mile run scheduled for Thursday that I was just blocking out of my head. Brennan 'gave' me the day off (Thursday) because of my complaining, I'm sure :-). But I didn't truly want to take it off. I had decided that perhaps I would run three vs. the five, but when I noticed Tim had seven miles on his schedule, I thought I'd run with him.

So we planned an afternoon run and did the 10K Umstead Loop. It has been awhile since Tim has run this route but it's a common one for me, $Bill and Frank. It's the better route going counter-clockwise vs. clockwise. But boy, my tired legs were still tired Thursday and I had come to terms with trying to keep pace with Tim (which is NOW faster than me).

This reminds me of when Tim and I first started running together and how pissed I would get at him (internally) because his legs were longer, or he was faster, or whatever. If it got too hard for me, it was his fault. But I didn't get that way during our Thursday run. I figured if all else, he could just leave my slow ass behind. :-)

I told him about the half mile hill challenge that $Bill made me aware of last year, which is breaking five minutes running up the 0.53 hill. Bill and I did it in November last year. And man, it wasn't easy. I remember that day (and noticed I didn't include it in my greatest 2008 running moments, but it is one of them) - starting up the hill, and getting about 60% into it, thinking, if Bill tells me we are not even close to breaking it now, I was throwing in the towel and walking. I saw him peek at his watch and I was trying to read into his body language. He was on thin ice: if he sped up too much, then we would be way off and trying too hard to make it; if he slowed down, then we have no chance and I'm walking.

But he kept on, without any slight movements to indicate either way and just kept going, so I did the same. When we made it to the top and I looked at my own watch, 4:56, I was ecstatic! Four minutes to spare is A LOT so we rocked.

All of that background to state this: Tim had no intention of breaking our long quested goal of last Spring, Summer, Fall. He wasn't even aware of it until I mentioned it as a 'story' during the run. And then when we reached the hill? I took it steady, to set a baseline for the year. I didn't try hard but it wasn't easy. I ended up with 5:43. I asked Tim what he did it in: 4:59. ARRRGGHHHHH!

In the end, we both struggled to get that last mile in and we ended up with six miles each: I had one more than I needed; he had one less. I like to think I *took* his mile.

Saturday was my long run. Tim and Bill stayed indoors to do spinervals. I was on my own. And I got my eight miles in, and then some. The run was to be at a comfortable pace, which I did. My legs are still tired and I briefly thought: how the heck will I get these eight miles in when I am so tired? But I did it. And it helped to listen to Keith and the Girl and Chemda's lesbian encounter described in great detail.

So, I managed a tough week for me and my tired, old ass. Tomorrow is a new week, so I'll see how it all plays out, all over again.

But I would like to end this with the fact that I enjoyed every minute of it and will continue to bitch and whine about my runs. I don't know why people think that every run should be described as the greatest moment ever. It's the challenge of endurance (again, for me) and overcoming the battles of a tired body, a tired mind, or a hectic day, to accomplish a goal. That is the GREATEST feeling after these workouts. I did it and I can do it again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Am Anti-Starbucks

That's what I told my boss in an e-mail.

He is doing a great thing. He received a butt load of Starbucks gift cards and has been buying coffee - for all that ask - at our department meetings. I have never put an order in because, well, I cannot stand Starbucks!

And it's not _Starbucks_ I hate. It's the ideology behind *it*.

The picture of seeing folks holding their Starbucks cups as though it is a badge of honor.

The fact that there are a zillion local coffee shops that put out better coffee and better service. That my money is helping _them_ and not corporate America.

It's just so cliche.

And I hate cliches.

So Starbucks, over time (as I drank the coffee too), has become my symbol of disdain for supporting corporate, packaged, follow-the-hype-because-you-are-sheep-and-marketing-skills-will-easily-influence-you products.

I mentioned to my boss that if I could, I would make an anti-Starbucks t-shirt and wear it to the meeting. He responded by saying "I'll be sure to scowl for you when I place the order."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Book Review: Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin

This is the book choice for this month's book club. It's supposedly under the category of "chick lit", something we haven't tried for in book club.

The cool tidbit is that Emily Giffin went to Wake Forest University, with one of our book club members (like, she knows her). I love supporting local (how many times have I said this already) so I was thrilled to be reading from a local author (even though she lives in Atlanta, GA now).

I enjoyed the book and it definitely felt like one of those "summer by the beach" books.

Ellen Dempsey is the narrator of this novel. She is happily married to an amazing guy, with an amazing family, who amazingly loves her. Her husband, in fact, is the brother of her very best friend, Margot.

Margot and her family are very wealthy Southerners from Atlanta. Ellen grew up in working class Pittsburgh. And although Giffin tries to portray Emily as not interested in money, she seems to take no issue to having it and using it, except with a 'i don't really care about this' attitude. I don't buy into that (in reality). If you truly aren't interested in wealth and showcasing it, you wouldn't live in a mansion or have silver frames strewn around the house.

Just from this part of the novel, it made me wonder if the author knows the difference in being humble and rich or _acting_ humble while rich. My tone doesn't come across here so I'll just have to say it: ACTING humble while rich is pitiful. Don't bother. It's transparent.

So Ellen Dempsey is a newlywed who happens to pass by the first love of her life. And then? They meet up - Ellen and Leo - and suddenly, Ellen is confused about her feelings for her new husband and her past love.

This becomes the story. A bit of whining and indecision and forced "I love Andy (her husband) and will not think about Leo." This goes on and on.

And while I enjoyed the book, it was just too typical. Woman confused. Bad boy ex who has commitment problems suddenly wants his woman back. She then sees how bad her great life is with the rich people -- how she has settled for this life vs. pursuing her dreams. And soon, she decides to see Leo and it looks like she is about to leave the good life for her ideal life and then? Leo is now the dick and Andy comes to the rescue.

Sigh. It just wrapped up so nicely. And everyone lived happily ever after. Except maybe Leo. But I would love, for once, to read something different. How about how you have two perfect men and now you have to choose? And you choose infidelity? And now what?

But I guess, that doesn't sell as much as wrapping a big bow on your story.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Run for the Oaks 5K Race Report

I have no idea how many times I have run this race but I have blogged this race report for the past two years, can you believe it? In fact, it was shortly after this 5K two years ago that I started blogging.

I've said this before, but I like this race as it is, to me, the race that starts the Spring season. Today was not one of those typical Spring Season days: rain, in the late 30s for temp, and just YUCK.

And it seemed noticeable when I got there. Just not a lot of folks as previous years. I can't say that I blame them. But I was going to run it no matter what. With Raleigh's winter, me and my running mates have endured colder.

My aggressive goal for this race was to strive for 24:59 (break 25 mn). This would be a doozy for me since my PR for a 5K is 25:30 (that I made at Run for the Oaks in 2007). But I actually felt confident that I could do this. Confidence does not equal ME, but I am truly trying to work on that...

I did well for the first two miles. Not right on the money but close enough to make my goal. My first mile was 7:58 (about 8:03 to the actual mile marker) and truly, this was not bad. My second mile was at 16:36, for an 8:17 pace but this meant I was still OK -- just a few seconds slower than my goal. I felt like I was still early in the race that I could pick up the pace.

But only a half mile went to shit. My brain would not stop thinking about how I CAN'T do this pace and I battled between walking and slowing down. I didn't walk -- I wouldn't do that because I knew it would disappoint me, but I did take the edge out of my pace. My goal was to step UP the pace, not bring it down.

But this is my battle: the mind games I play. I am not a born competitor. In fact, this past week's track workout was proof. I was running at 7ish pace for 400s and came upon a group of guys that I know are generally faster than me. Perhaps they were doing their cool down jog while I did my speed, but once I realized I was about to pass them, I started to feel panicked. "I can't do that! That doesn't seem right! Why do they have to be here? Get out of my way!! I am not supposed to pass you!"

Yes, it seems insane that I can think like that while running that pace (which is EXTREME for me) but this happens in split seconds and my heart rate races, my legs feel numb, and if I haven't been this disciplined at track, I probably would have slowed down quite a bit, perhaps even just stopping (unlikely).

My running mate Frank was running alongside me. When I explained this to him at the end? He had the opposite thoughts while we passed the guys. He was determined to BEAT them. So now why can't I think like that?

Back to today's race. This is about how I was feeling around 2 1/2 miles. I can't do this. My legs feel strange. I'm just going to take the edge off. This is too fast.

I fussed with my jacket. I suddenly felt really hot. And my concentration turned to getting this jacket off, which mean removing the pins of my race bib, unzipping the jacket, taking my watch off (which I had put over the jacket sleeve), wrapping the jacket around my waist, then putting the watch on.

I had freaking LESS THAN A MILE LEFT TO RUN and I'm fucking around with my JACKET?!? Seriously. Only a reason for me to slow down. And I knew it the entire time I was doing it.

As I finally approach the end, I am focused on finishing. It never occurred to me that I would NOT beat my PR. I thought I still could do that but I noticed the finish clock at 25:4x. Damn. I am slower than the PR. My watch time was 25:43 and official finish ended up being 25:49.

I am not _that_ disappointed_. In reality, for me to play those mind games is so normal -- it's the focal point of my training this year: get used to the pain of running fast. But the other reality is this: 25:43 is fast *for me* and I did it WITH the fucked up battle in my head. I still ran fast. So there is hope yet that I can beat my PR and those weird thoughts in my head.

So I am very happy about today's outcome. I ran fast in crappy weather and I know that as great as I did, I can do better.

What's even better? Tim ran 22:46 which is his PR. Tim has not beat me at Run for the Oaks in nearly every race we've run this together and I can think of at least two before today. I knew he was fast. He knew he could be. He just didn't want to until I threw that gauntlet down last year and boasted about how I have beaten him in nearly all races. :-) Yes, evil of me but it's the only way to get him to get out to run harder and faster.

And even better than that? My coach, the greatest ever, Brennan Liming, won first overall women @ 18:20. She was *THIRD* overall. I was SO HAPPY to hear that. I am proud of her (she had a baby last Fall) and just felt completely privileged to know that she is my coach.

$Bill came out to watch (he has a marathon next Saturday) on this dreary day, which was awesome of him. And I thought it was cool that he was able to see Brennan finish (she's his coach too). And I introduced myself to Lesley, my twitter/facebook/blogger friend. I saw her at Coach Bubba's and gave her a hello as we ran passed each other but this time, I was able to give her a big ole hug and intro'd Tim to her.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Book Review: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Well, Bella has redeemed herself. I went from utter annoyance of her to actually liking her. This book certainly redeemed itself from the last two. And I also noted that this book really brought EVERYTHING together and that the two previous books, New Moon and Eclipse, were necessary to make this complete.

This is the book where Edward and Bella finally marry. I loved this notion when it was brought up previously: Edward wanting to marry Bella. And I don't know if Meyer is trying to make any statements about abstinence or no sex before marriage, it certainly was appreciated by me -- and I'm not a traditionalist but it really gave Edward an edge for wanting to do that.

Bella was not as annoying about the marriage and accepted all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. The honeymoon went well and throughout this majority of the story, I grew an attachment to her, as I did in the first book. I didn't want her to become a vampire. I realized, as much as Edward did, how she needed to live out a life as a human just a little longer. When she tells Edward that she is willing to go to Dartmouth for a little bit (hedging on a bet she made with him), I was thrilled.

And then...Nessie enters the picture...

Nessie, the baby that she bears. The baby that almost kills her and everyone knew that Bella would die giving birth to an incubus, as it was 'clawing' it's way out. The plan was to attempt to save her by making her a vampire.

It was at this scene that my heart broke. I nearly cried (but didn't) when Edward began his work on her. I felt as much as in disbelief as Jacob did, standing alongside her with shock. To me, this is what makes a great book and a great story: that I become that emotionally affected and relate to this character so well. After four novels, Bella (and others) are part of my thoughts, reflections, etc. And to know what was happening to this whiny teeny-bopper made me very very sad.

The story then turns to Bella as a vampire and it's all good. If vampirism was an actual "thing" then this book would have been disowned by anti-vampirisms everywhere for promoting it so well. It is THE life to have and especially in the Cullen's little haven, life is like the garden of eden...well, as long as you remain a vegetarian.

More happens that has a lot of build up without any firework of an ending, but all-in-all, it made for an interesting read. But this book was similar to Twilight in that I had emotional experiences as I read through.

With Twilight, I had the butterflies, just like Bella, at the blossoming relationship between Edward and Bella. My tummy remained tied in knots throughout reading this one. And then with this one, Breaking Dawn, I had the awe of Bella's change and how Edward was taking it all in.

There's no question: Edward is the vampire of my dreams. His character has become one of my most memorable and favorite men since Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre.

I even ended up liking Jacob and thought that Meyer's take of viewing things from Jacob's eyes was great and helped make me like him more.

Sure, this thing wrapped up really nice -- a perfect hollywood ending. But I could not stop thinking about "them" and things that had happened to them, even from the previous books. I was amazed, awed, sadden and despaired all throughout.

What was even more cool? The fact that CJ and Tim were reading this at the same time. CJ has finished and I am planning to take her with me to our next book club meeting where we will discuss the series. Tim will have to stay home. This is for girls''ll be interesting to discuss how CJ and I swoon for the same man. Well, we do (Tim) -- but well, you know what I mean.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Book Review: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

This is the third of four books in the Twilight Series.

I had heard that New Moon (the second in this series) was not good and that it would get better. Quite honestly, I found this one just as annoying.

Okay, maybe not as much as New Moon because Edward appears more in Eclipse (constantly, actually) but GOD! Bella was even MORE irritating in Eclipse than in New Moon.

She whined about everything: I have to see Jacob, I love Edward, Jacob's my best friend, Edward is the love of my life, I hate shopping, I have to go everywhere you go, I need to know what's going on, I don't want to get married, make me a vampire, WAHHHHHH!!

What did anyone see in this whiney douche bag??? Seriously? She is so fricking immature and does not deserve the friendship, nor the love, of ANY of these people. Er, um, vampires and werewolves.

And yet? Everyone is enamored with this girl. I was so, so, so sick of her. I could not stop rolling my eyes at every thing she said or did. "I have to go to La Push." I have to absolutely go to fucking La Push to see my best friend EVER IN THE WHOLE GOD-DAMN WORLD, and by golly, no one can tell me otherwise because I am a ding-dong.

That's how I started reading anything about Bella:
I can't marry you Edward because I am a stupid teenager that acted like a zombie when you left me but now that you are here and forsaking all others just for me - and screwing up your vampire lifestyle - I am going to continue to whine about how I don't deserve you and I shouldn't hurt you anymore, but I will because you can't tell me to not see Jacob and just because you've been around for 100 years and find the idea of marriage a wonderful thing and it's a dream for you to do, I won't do it willingly because it's just, you know, like, OH-MY-GOD, so LAME-OH...

What a fricking ditz. Edward and Alice could really do so much better...

Other than the whiney ass douche, the book was decent. Okay, Jacob was irritating too. So cocky and just oblivious, until, well, surprise! Bella actually finds that she is in love with him too. I really hated to read that, BTW.

But it was great to get insight into Rosalie...and the truce between vampires and werewolves. I've already started on the last and it's improved IMMENSELY. But so far, nothing compares to the first love, Edward and Twilight...

Shriner's Club

I haven't been to my mom's house in ages.

I lived there for a couple of months when Tim had to go to training in Wichita Falls, TX. There was nowhere for me to stay, at a relatively affordable price. So I had to go back and live with my parents while Tim stayed in TX. It was for a very short time, like barely a month, if I remember correctly, but we had been married barely a year and I did not want to be away from him.

And I didn't necessarily like the idea of going to live at home with my parents.

We have been back since, for holidays and such. But after my parents divorced, I had not stayed in the house again. The last time we came to the area as a family, I had only CJ and we stayed at The Peabody in Memphis. I used the excuse that I didn't want to show favoritism by staying at one place over the other.

_Anyway_, we stayed with my mom this time. And it was nice. The girls had great fun sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room, with the TV on all night (and morning).

But my mom's house is full of pictures...yes, of her granddaughters but also of ME. They are ALL OVER THE PLACE. And I forgot how this was when I lived at home, but it's far worse now. It's like a shrine. To me. Tim told me the first morning how he was checking out all the pictures of me...

But it doesn't stop there.


My mom has gone on and on about me and her grandkids to the people she works with at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). My dad works there to, managing the place. So they both have said a thing or two about me, but my mom puts me in an imaginary world that I don't actually live up to.

So when we got over to see my dad Thursday evening (my mom was still flying in from the Philippines, where she has been since January), the bartender *and* the bartenDEES were all saying hello to me. They told me they have been admiring how my daughters have been growing up. I tried to introduce the girls, but they already knew who they were: "We know exactly who is who!"

Saturday evening, we met my Uncle and Aunt (on my father's side), who took a trip to meet us in West Memphis, as they traveled back home from their RV trip to Louisiana. We met them at the VFW (as we did on Thursday) and decided to have dinner there.

It was Bingo night, so my mom and dad were busy, as was my other family member, Grandpa Bill (my mom's PoOSSLQ), who becomes security at night for the VFW. So me, the girls, Tim, Aunt Peggy and Uncle Don decided to just eat there instead of venturing anywhere else.

Our waitress was gracious, southern and sweet. But she figured out who I was and for the rest of the evening, I was addressed by my first name...and only *I* was ever addressed.

"Cindy - I adore your mom. She loves you. You are so beautiful."

"Cindy - your dad is just amazing"

"Cindy - you are just gorgeous!"

"Cindy, darling, do you need anything?"

"Cindy, girl, how's your dinner?"

"Cindy, your mom just talks about you all the time!"

"Cindy, do you need another Corona?"

"Cindy, I can't get over how GORGEOUS you are!"

"Cindy! You are sooo tall!" (BTW, I'm only 5'4")

It continued this way for the ENTIRE time we were there. Forget that there were FIVE OTHER PEOPLE at the table!

After about the fourth time she addressed me, Mi-Mi says to everyone "She is freaking me out! She thinks you are like a movie star or something!"

I can see that being 'famous' is not for me. It's uncomfortable and just weird. But at least I can say, for 15 minutes, er, three hours?, I had my fame.

Except when I go back to my mom's house and see the shrine...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Runnin' by the Mississippi

Tim found an area for us to run in Memphis (we're in Arkansas/Tennessee for Tim's dad's funeral) on Mud Island.

I attended my senior year of high school about an hour east of Memphis, in Gosnell, Arkansas. I went to Memphis often for shopping and fun, and on a couple of occassions, the trip included time at Mud Island.

Mud Island, as I knew it, is a tourist attraction on a very small 'island' off the Mississippi River on the Tennessee side of the river. I had great memories of this place: a winding manmade stream that you could actually wade through in your bare feet, that wound throughout the island. There was an open area where I watched the 4th of July fireworks one year.

And when my friend Terri moved to Memphis a few years ago, she told me she was looking at places to rent on Mud Island.

What? I thought. How can you rent a place on a tourist attraction? I was completely dumbfounded until today.

There is yet another bridge from Front Street that connects to Mud Island, on the _other_ side of the "new" bridge (that crosses the Mississippi into Arkansas). And sure enough, it's full of high-end condos and homes. It had a nice wide path that followed the entire neighborhood. Not enough for a seven mile run one way (and possibly both ways) but nonetheless, a good little path for a run.

It was pretty nice as Tim and I started our run. I know I had a brisk pace. I was excited. I felt great. I was "good morning" the people that I passed. Man, I'm thinking, I am going to have a fast pace for my long run. I'm just getting all cocky in my head now.

Then we turned around and VOILA! A 40 knot head wind.

I noticed, as we were driving to mud island, pedestrians and hobos walking into the wind SLANTED. And somehow, I forgot all of that when I started runnng. And that's easy to forget when you feel like you're flying...not realizing that the 40 knot wind is helping you fly. Once we turned around, it was a block of wind pushing us back.

And then my cockiness went away and I thought about how I was going to manage seven miles. When we got to the other end of the route, we were only at 2 1/2 miles, so back and forth on this path was still not going to get us close to the miles we wanted.

But Tim thought we'd cross the bridge (running) and run throuh the streets of Memphis. A bold and brave move. Memphis is not the safest place in the world to be running in. But there appeared to be quite a few runners around so we felt okay about it.

But something happened to me at one turn toward the bridge: that my body needed to hit the head. And not just to pee. But this has happened before and I knew that in due time, it would go away.

So we ran up the hill of the bridge and I thought I had a handle on my, um, physical self and as I started down the hill, then I knew that this was not something that would go away. I really tried to debate and think: I think I can run and make this go away. But then I thought I better not chance it and told Tim that I better head back to the car because I've got a 'tummy' problem.

He said he could take me to the Welcome Center to take care of business and I almost told him not to worry about it until I started jogging again...then I said "Okay".

He took off - going fast to get to the car. I thought about how amazing this guy is to act fast in an emergency. But now I'm all alone, with a cell phone, near the empty lot of the Pyramid in Memphis. I decided it would be better for me to keep moving and at least get on the bridge, where no one could abduct me ;-).

I made it back to the Mud Island part when I saw the minivan and hopped in.

We made it to the Welcome Center and Tim and I parted ways so he could finish his run while I finished mine (pun intended).

My long run ended up being short of four miles. So much for being cocky. It just doesn't suit me because something always happens to put me in my place.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Probably not the best title ever, but it is appropriate.

As I mentioned previously, my father-in-law passed away Friday. Although he has lived (and died) in Florida for the last 40+ years, he was born and bred in Arkansas. That's where he met and married Margie. It's where Tim was born and has some memories of the area, although he didn't live there for very long. He is a Florida boy.

Strange coincidences can happen. And Tim and I meeting and marrying would be one of them.

Tim was in the Air Force whenBlytheville AFB for barely a month or two when I met him in 1988. A whirlwind romance happens and two months later, we were married. One day, I'll blog about that...but for this particular post, that's all that's necessary.

My dad retired from the Air Force shortly after we were married. He and my mom bought their first home EVER in West Memphis, Arkansas, which was barely an hour from where Seymour Johnson AFB was located.

Tim was born in West Memphis, Arkansas.

He doesn't remember any of it. Like me, born in Japan - I never lived there passed the age of an infant (maybe toddler, I don't know) so there is zero memory of it.

But the coincidence that I would meet a random person that would be born in the same city that my parents would retire is pretty bizarre.

My parents, now divorced, still live (separately) in West Memphis. Guess where my father-in-law will be buried?

You got it. West Memphis. There are still family living in that area, and its vicinity. And thus, as people say, funerals bring family reunions.

But this time it includes *my* family. I'll be able to visit my mom and dad. Actually, I'll be staying with my mom...or should I say, we will all be staying with her. I'm sure she's thrilled to have her granddaughters, but the cat and the dog? Oh well. The benefit of family is that we can take advantage of them :-).

It's a good long drive to get there. It'll be the longest the kids will ever ride and we aren't even driving straight through.

But we plan to head out tomorrow and be there through the weekend. I am looking forward to it. We'll just see how many posts I add with insight to my relationships I have with my parents...

Wish us well.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Movie Review: Quarantine

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW. If you want to see the movie without knowing details, do not read anymore.

We rented this using Redbox yesterday. It's not a movie I have been dying to see but I thought it would be a nice flick to watch on a Saturday evening.

And it was. It started out calm. A TV reporter and her cameraman hang out with a Fire Department, in hopes of shadowing them on a call.

The night is pretty lame and boring. Nothing exciting happens and it's a lot of waiting. After a good bit, the alarm goes off and off they go.

It's a residential apartment building. The owner is outside waiting for the crew. They make it in and hear that an old woman screamed an unbelievable inhuman scream. They find her apartment, the owner opens the door, and she stands before them, looking extremely INHUMAN.

But of course, they don't see it that way. They just want to _help_ the poor woman. As she stands there, with her head kind of limply hanging, salivating from the mouth and groaning.

So the firemen, two cops, the cameraman and the reporter go towards her and voila! she attacks one of the cops. Attack as in biting the crap out of him and gnawing him open.

So yes, it's a bit gory. But if zombie movies scare the shit out of you, like 28 Days (love it!) and Night of the Living Dead (yikes!), then this one will certainly do it too.

The gist of it is that there is a mysterious illness that has overtaken this apartment building (and affects you the way the old lady came out at the cop). The CDC is involved and the apartment building becomes 'quarantined': exits are blocked, the SWAT team is surrounding the windows and shooting anyone who dares to leave. So, the people are TRAPPED IN A BUILDING WITH ZOMBIE-LIKE INFECTIONS.

If that doesn't send shivers down your spine, then you must like Saw.

But this movie scared the shit out of me. My a-hole remained constricted throughout. And at one scene, knowing what was about to happen, when it happened, I screamed bloody murder and scared the shit out of my kids (no, they weren't watching it, but I screamed loud enough for them to hear me).

Jennifer Carpenter stars in this flick, as the cute TV reporter. I love her. She plays Debra Morgan on one of my very favorite shows Dexter. She was amazing in this.

And what I liked most about this movie is that there are no BIG NAME over-acting actors. Just good, most recognizable, actors that played up a simple zombie-horror-with-a-little-gore flick.

I was really surprised at how much I ended up liking this one.

Express Yourself

I have bitten the soccer mom stereotype. A long time ago. And boy, is this a 180 from what I used to think, believe, and stated.

Let's see...we begin with the fact that I stated I was not ever having children. I sounded EXACTLY THE SAME as other couples who claim they will never have children. What's the point? I don't like kids. Tim and I are fine the way we are. Tim doesn't want children either. My children are my dogs.

And as 30 loomed over my head, that biological clock ticked. And before it ticked, I met older couples who were childless and I found it...sad. And they were not sad. They were quite happy with their choice but from my perspective, it seemed lonely. So put those together and I started bugging Tim about having kids. And eventually, with the help of Steve Martin, he too wanted children and we ended up with our two beautiful girls.

Next? I swore I would never have a minivan. PUHLEEZE with the minivans! But I knew, as I have been inside many, not to ever even look in one while looking for a car. They are SOOO COOL inside. But the outside? Forget about it! A minivan reeks of domesticated people. Conservatives. PARENTS. Uncool people. Cary-ites. I even remember telling my minivan-owning BFF Tracy that no women would even LOOK at a man in a minivan.

And lo and behold, in 2003, what did I buy myself because I wanted it? A minivan! And it is by far, my favoritist vehicle ever. I will only trade it in for a hybrid version. It has to be the Odyssey (or perhaps, a Toyota).

It had to be black. And I was lucky that year that black actually became a color offered in the minivan. I dumped the Chevy Suburban for it and became the person I mocked before this 180 degree change.

I also hang things in my rear view mirror. Things my kids made and even a thing that a complete stranger gave me while in the Harris Teeter parking lot (many people are surprised I accepted this and claim there is a GPS unit in this thing to find me and take me or my kids away...this is not something you tell someone who already has an unhealthy paranoid personality).

It didn't take long for me to start adding bumper stickers to my car. I remember seeing old station wagons, driven by young folks (which made me appreciate station wagons), COVERED in bumper stickers. And I thought: now that is cool. And I can tell that the person is pretty cool (or not, depending on the stickers) because they have really expressed themselves with their stickers.

So over the years, I have attempted to express myself via bumper stickers. And I love that some of these expressions do not fit what stereotype I have for a minivan driver.

My first one was "Come to the Darkside, We Have Cookies". That is my all-time favorite. But bumper stickers don't last long and I try to change them out when they become ragged.

I notice people who approach my bumper at stop lights. They strain their necks and eyes to read them. They move their cars a little closer. I try to see their reactions. Most times? They laugh or smile. I have been almost in fender benders where people have tried to give me thumbs up, or yell out of the cars at 65 mph how much they like my stickers. I love that, especially when we don't crash.

So here are my current stickers. I have the overall picture of my rear (the minivan) and each individually, for close-ups.

This is the rear. The Obama image is actually a magnet. I'm surprised it hasn't been taken but one day, someone did turn it upside down:

The Bush one is my favorite by far. It'll be hard to see that one go. If it lasts through the end of the year, I'll change it for 2010.

QRB = Quail Ridge Books & Music - my favorite bookstore and the only LOCAL one in Raleigh. Sad but true.