Monthly Archives: October 2011

Spooktacular Halloween

Happy Halloween!

No Halloween parties to report on this year.  Actually, it’s been several years since I’ve gone to any Halloween parties.  I’m not really big into celebrating the holiday by getting all dressed up.  Frankly, being frugal, I hate spending money on a costume that I’m only going to wear once (which is an issue I have with buying a wedding dress, but I’ll leave any updates on our wedding planning for another blog, hopefully this week).  I do like Halloween, but I like the fall festivities part of it more than I like the candy and the costumes.  So this past weekend was dedicated to a few of these much loved fall activities.

We kicked the weekend off with a 10K race on Saturday morning.  The name of the race was the Four Seasons Cool October 5K/10K and boy did the name fit the race.  It was a chilly morning, in the low 40’s. 

Nick took a picture of me before the race, goosebumps and all.

I was super nervous going into the race, as usual.  I know there is no reason for the anxiety, but I make a big deal about it in my head.  Really, I’m just competing against myself.  Anyway, I set my goal of having about a 10:30 pace, which is by no means fast, but that’s right around what I’ve been averaging for my long runs.  After every mile, my Nike+ GPS app announced my pace to me in my ear, and my new goal changed from having a 10:30 pace to finishing the race under 1 hour.  Well, I beat my first goal, averaging a 9:31 pace according to Nike+ GPS and my official race time was 1:00:11.  Although I barely missed the second goal of getting in under 1 hour, I’m still very please with myself. 

 I got a picture of Nick as he was about to cross the finish line

With the 10K completed, it was on to other Halloween festivities: Carving Pumpkins!

Freshly gutted pumpkins and our stinky running shoes.

I was able to clean out one of the pumpkins.  When I cut into the second one, it was all moldy inside, so I sent Nick to the store to get a new one.

The new, un-moldy pumpkin

One of my favorite things about pumpkin carving is roasting pumpkin seeds.  Once I got the pumpkins gutted, I brought the seeds inside and rinsed them of.

I then spread them out on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and stuck them in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes to dry them off.

Once they were good and dried out, I tossed them with a little bit of olive oil and an Italian herb blend that I had in my spice collection.  With that, I added a little bit of salt and pepper to help bring out the flavors of the Italian herb blends.

Then it was back into the oven for another 20 minutes.  Once they cooled off, they were ready to eat. 

Nick dug in once they were cool enough to eat

They made a great pre-dinner snack while we carved the pumpkins.  Initially, I had plans to carve a very pretty pumpkin with ginkgo leaves from a template that I got from martastewart.com– you can see the exact pattern that I chose here.  In the end, it was way too complicated and I couldn’t carve it nearly as nicely with my cheap $2 pumpkin carving knife from the grocery store.  So in the end, the pumpkin ended up being more “traditional”.

What can I say, I’m  not quite a pumpkin carving artist!  But I had a good time in the process, and really, that’s all that matters.  Happy Halloween everyone!

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Live, Love, Run… Austin?

I’m over the half-way point in my half marathon training and it has been very emotional so far.  I recently wrote about week 5 and having a hard time with the 5-mile run.  I’m now in week 7 and just when I thought that the 5-mile run was bad, I found myself beating myself up over a silly 4.5 mile run on Tuesday.  It was hot, despite being late October, and dark out, and this was the first 4.5-mile run so my route changed and a took a wrong turn which threw everything off.  I ended up walking half of it out of frustration from all of those things.  I was angry that it was still hot out, angry that it was 6:45 PM and dark, and angry that I took a wrong turn, and once I started walking, I was angry that I began walking.  I had a great (for me) pace over the first mile and then I blew it and began to walk.  I started to run again, and then walked some more, and ran, and walked and so on.  My time hasn’t been that bad since week 1 of training.  Once I finished the dreaded 4.5 run/walk, I walked in the house and Nick asked me how my workout went.  I immediately started ranting, much like the rant above.  Nick gave me a huge hug despite the fact that I was covered in sweat.  I shed 1 tear as he reassured me that I was doing great and that I’ll do awesome at our 10K race this weekend and the half marathon in December.  He’s right.  I’ve been very hard on myself for no real reason other than to be hard on myself.  I know it’s really hard to let go of those feelings, but I do need to keep reminding myself that I’m doing great and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t out-run myself on each run.  The whole point to signing up for the White Rock Lake Marathon was to accomplish one of my items on the “DFW-To-Do-Before-I-Move” list.  I never set a time limit or said I had to run at top speed.  I put it behind me for the night and got some sleep. 

I got up Wednesday morning for a morning run since I had plans after work.  Wednesday was a 3-mile run; the new short run of the week.  (Oh, I will miss the 2-mile runs.  They were so simple- just run from our place to the highway sound barrier wall and back.  1 mile there, 1 mile back, 1 road, all in a residential neighborhood.)  I was determined to not give up this time.  And I didn’t.  In fact, I had a great run with my best mile yet!  I knew a good, strong run would lift my spirits. 

So here I am.  It’s now Thursday and I have another 4.5-mile run to do this evening.  The temperature dropped significantly from Tuesday.  What was 88 degrees then is now 56 degrees.  Rain has been threatening all day, but I haven’t seen a drop yet.  I’m really hoping it can hold off until later tonight as I’d much rather run outside that go to the gym and run on the treadmill.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to do the original 4.5-mile run that I mapped out for Tuesday as I’m afraid I’ll take a wrong turn again and curse the run to be horrible again (although, lesson learned- the fact that I got out there and did a 4.5-mile run/walk is something to be proud of as it’s something not everyone can do).  I will be running my regular 4 mile run and loop back to start it again, but just do 0.5 miles to finish up.  Simple enough. 

So all this talk about the up’s and down’s of weeks 7 of half marathon training beings me to my sudden- and not set in stone, yet- decision to tack 11 more weeks of training onto my half marathon training and run in the Austin Marathon on February 19th.  Check out the LiveStrong Austin Marathon website here.  Back in July and August when I was thinking about running the White Rock Lake Half Marathon, the thought of a full marathon scared the heck out of me.  To be honest, it still does!  I thought I could try for a full marathon in April here in Dallas, but I’ve heard that the spring marathon is nothing like the Run The Rock- White Rock Lake Marathon and I want my first (yikes!!) marathon to be one that has a lot of excitement around it.  I decided to branch out of Dallas and searched Austin.  Low and behold, the Austin Marathon almost fits perfectly into my training calendar when using Hal Higdon’s marathon training schedule.  If you are looking for any sort of running training programs- 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, etc, check out his website.  I’ll be doing the Novice 1 training program with the addition of strength training, however, I’ll be picking it up at week 8- the Half Marathon and adding 1 extra week in to get me to the Austin Marathon on February 19th.  I’ve been using his Novice 1 half marathon training program, which I modified for my schedule, as I posted earlier on and overall, it’s been a great experience, despite the emotional rollercoaster!  Now, like I said, nothing is set in stone for Austin Marathon yet.  I’m still very nervous about it, but I know it will be a great experience and a huge accomplishment!  What do you all think- who ever is out there reading this- am I totally nuts?  For now, I’m going to get through the 4.5-mile run this evening with hopes that the looming rain holds off!

Might Could

Every region has words or phrases that are specific to that area and you don’t really hear them outside of that region.  For example, in New England “wicked” is used frequently as in that’s wicked cool.  In California, “hella” is used in the same way that “wicked” would be used, or if you are a kid and “hella” is too much of a grown up word, you’d say “hecka”.  I ran into someone from the midwest recently and he described someone else as being “snarky”, and I realized I hadn’t heard that word since leaving Michigan.  In the south there there’s they typical “ya’ll” which has spread out of the south and it seems as though you can find someone saying “ya’ll” in any part of the country.  The phrase I’d never heard before moving to Texas, though, is “might could”.    From context and what the words mean separately, I realize that this phrase more or less means should or maybe.  I’ve only heard this phrase used a couple of times, but every time I hear it, I become so focused on why anyone would ever use the words might and could together, one right after another, that I lose all concentration on what might could he or she be talking about.  (I know that’s not the proper use of “might could”, if there even is a proper use, but I had to toss it in there).

Just to clarify, let me give you the example that www.urbandictionary.com provides so you can see it in context:  
Student: Miss, I didn’t finish my essay.
Teacher: We might could try a little harder next time.

Has anyone ever heard this phrase before?  Can someone please explain to me why you would ever say those two words together in a sentence?  Am I missing something?  Those two words together just doesn’t make any sense to me.  I’ve lost nights of sleep over this phrase (well, not really, but it consumes my time that could be spent thinking about other things).  I’m tempted to call in to A Way With Words, which is by far my most favorite program on NPR, and ask them where this phrase came from and why on earth would anyone use it.  If anyone out there reading this has any thoughts or knowledge on this “might could” conundrum, I would love to know what you think!  Please fill me in, in order to save my grammatical sanity.

12 Days Until Mexico

The countdown has begun!  Nick and I leave for Mexico in 12 days.  That’s 7 more business casual days, 2 more jeans Fridays, 1 afternoon of pumpkin carving and pumpkin seed toasting, 1 happy hour, 1 Michigan football game, 1 Michigan Alumni Association board meeting, 2 Delta Gamma Alumni meetings, 50 minutes of cross training, 3 hours of strength training, and 37.2 miles to run (6.2 of which make up a 10K race).  I’ve just got to get through all of that and then we are off to Mexico!

The (un)Lucky Little Blue Dress

I’m a little superstitious.  Not super superstitious, but I have my little quarks or habits that I am convinced that work.  For example, when I fly, I have to listen to the entire safety speech the flight attendants do every time.  I’ve heard it a thousand times and I know nothing has changed since the last time I flew, but I have to do it in order to feel like we will have a safe flight.  Crazy, right?  Another recent example of my superstitions I am convinced that if I watch a Michigan football game in entirety, then Michigan will lose.  For the first weekend this season this past week, I watched the entire game, and of course we lost.  To Michigan State, none the less.  We’ve won every single game up to that point.  So all of this silly superstition brings me to this little blue dress that I bought about a year ago that I’m convinced brings me good luck.  It’s nothing too special of a dress.  It’s blue and a little shorter than I’m comfortable with, so I’m constantly trying to pull it down, but I always get compliments when I wear it.

I found that when I wore this dress, I got a new team member through Mary Kay (yes, I sold Mary Kay for about a year and that’s another blog entry of how I got into it and why I decided to stop), which is a huge deal in the Mary Kay world.  It wasn’t just occasionally when I wore it, I’d get a team member, but EVERY time, so I associated it with being my good luck dress in Mary Kay.  After leaving Mary Kay, the dress got pushed aside in the closet  and I completely forgot about it until two weeks ago.  Not even thinking about it being a “good luck” dress, I put it on and headed to work.  A few hours later, I got a phone call regarding the job interview that I just had.  Now I had applied to this job months ago and hadn’t heard anything so I figured I didn’t get it.  Well, it was the length of time plus a few weeks after applying for it, I realized I made a huge, embarrassing mistake on my cover letter and I figured that I killed the opportunity right there.  Anyway, months later, they called me up and wanted to interview me.  I was so excited and I attributed getting that phone call out of the blue from my little blue dress that I decided to put on that morning. 

Knowing I was supposed to hear back this week about the job, I wore the dress yesterday for a little extra good luck.  Well, I heard back from the job yesterday, and they offered it to someone else.  Not only did I head back about that job, but I got another rejection from another job in Chicago.  To top it off, a cheese tasting event I was looking forward to going to that evening got canceled at the last minute.  But not all is lost.  The lucky dress may have been unlucky for the day yesterday, but the luck is coming in the long run.  As I told Nick when I heard I didn’t get the job, I didn’t think it was the right fit for me anyway, and if I was offered the job, it would have been about getting paid more, not necessarily about enjoying the job.  As for the job in Chicago, it too would have been a really great experience, but in the long run, it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.  The cheese tasting event will be moved to November and Nick will be able to go with me then, which will make it even more fun.  So despite three occurences of bad news yesterday, with my lucky dress looking out for me, I look forward to good things to come!

Mental Defeat

I just wrapped up week 5 of half-marathon training and boy was it a struggle!  I’m not sure if I’m in a slump this week, but it has been so hard getting through the runs.  Nick is out of town this weekend in Colorado for a training seminar for iPhone games so I did the long run this morning by myself, which doesn’t bother me so much since we haven’t been doing a ton of running together, but I know I could have used his support to get me through today.  At any rate, I’m excited he was able to go to this training session.  He’s come a long way since June with the iPhone games and I know this class will be a huge help for him and he’ll build so many connections through it.  I’m so proud of him!  Anyway, my run this morning wasn’t even as bad as I’m making it out to be.  I’m just being hard on myself.  Actually, I had the right around the same time and the exact same pace for the 5 mile run I did two weeks ago in New Hampshire and I was proud of it then.  Anyway, this week was another 5 mile run and I ended up mixing things up and got out of the neighborhood for this run.  There is a hike and bike trail not too far from us with the trail head being about a mile away.  I haven’t run on it before because I have to cross the very busy 6-lanes of traffic, but being Sunday morning in the south, most people were at or getting ready for church so  was much lighter and I wasn’t as worried about crossing the major road.  Anyway, all was good until about mile 3, at which point I had already turned around to head back home.  I just stopped.  I wasn’t tired, I just didn’t want to run.  And so I walked.  I walked for about 0.3 miles and then started running again, but I just wanted to get through it.  At the end of the run, I was actually surprised that my time and pace were the exact same as two weeks ago, since I didn’t walk at all on that run.  At any rate, I’m just struggling right now as I get close to being half way through training.  I’ve been psyching myself out too much and letting my mental defeat get to me.  I guess it’s only human.  Most of us are our own toughest critic.

On Thursday I ran in the Santa Fe 5K race for the new Santa Fe trail over in the Lakewood neighborhood.  I did a mile warm-up before the race since I was scheduled to run 4 miles that day.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone to do the race with me, but it was a really great event.  They had live music and free beer for the runners and there were various food trucks there.  I completed the race a little bit faster than the Valley Ranch Pumpkin Dash from last weekend, so I was happy and there was a girl there who although I didn’t know her, I made it my goal to finish before her, which I did.  Throughout the race she was near me and would either speed up and get ahead of me or slow down and I’d get ahead of her (or perhaps I sped up and go ahead of her).  Anyway, we were right at the 3 mile mark and I saw her speed up and try to come up from behind me so I sped up and ran as fast as I could through the finish line.  I wish they would post the pictures from that race.  I know I probably looked like one of those puffed up fish or a squirrel with it’s cheeks all stuffed with acorns, that and a look of determination on my face.  At least that’s how I felt I looked.  Some women can keep a polished look on them when they work out.  Not me.  I get very sweaty and flushed.  Anyway, I’m sure the pictures will be quite amusing once they are posted.  So after the race, I cooled down and headed over to one of the food trucks and picked up dinner for Nick and me and headed home.  Hopefully if I do this race next year, I’ll have people to join me since it would have been fun to stick around longer.
This isn’t the best picture showing off the event, but hopefully you get the idea.

So I’m going a little backwards in the week, but on Wednesday, I did my workout in the morning so Nick and I would have all of Wednesday night together, our last full night to hang out before he left for Colorado, since I was running in the Santa Fe 5K on Thursday.  He got off of work a little early and picked up some food from Whole Foods and surprised me with some beautiful tulips.  He put some thought into it since he knew that I had the little gourds on the table.  The tulips and a nice fall shade of orange and yellow.  Very pretty.
I took a picture of them yesterday as they were wide open in their full tulip happiness.

Okay, I know this blog entry is getting to be all over the place and I need to do a better job of writing entries throughout the week, but, well I didn’t this week, and I feel like I have a lot to write about.  So in other news, I had a job interview this week.  It’s for a job here in the DFW area.  They were going to interview what sounded like 2 or so more people in the remainder of the week and I should hear back in the next couple of days.  The interview went well, but now that changing jobs might actually happen, it makes me nervous.  My current job is my first job out of grad school.  I’ve been there for four years now so a change will be strange, but back in June when I had my annual review, my boss more or less told me that he knows that I need to move on sooner or later in order to grow professionally.  He’s right, I’ve kind of hit a spot with my current firm where something needs to change and that very well might be getting a new job in order to build my urban planning and design career.  It was a surprise to hear that from him, but I’m glad he’s on my side and only wants the best for me professionally.  I know that he will help me in any way he can to help me advance, even if that means helping me find a new job.  So as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I’m on the hunt.  I sent out a couple of applications yesterday and have a few more to do today.  So we’ll see!  I’ll keep you posted on what I hear back from the interview from this past week.  And I’ll do my best to create more entries this coming week so there isn’t one super long blog entry at the end of the week that is all over the place like this one!

Let the Races Begin

Nick and I registered to run the Valley Ranch Pumpkin Dash 5K as part of our half-marathon training, which took place this past Saturday.  When I got home from New England last week, Nick was sick as a dog and It lingered all week long.  He was worried that he would struggle through the race and I was worried that it would make him worse, but after a restless Friday night for the both of us, due to Nick coughing all night long, we got up at 6:30 in the morning and got geared up to head to our first race.
Nick is SO thrilled to be up for this race.  And my iPhone gave him scary glowing eyes in this picture.  (I took it three times, and they all came out the same)
I’m a little more awake and ready to run than Nick at this point.

We made our way to Irving, TX and picked up our registration packets before the race began.  We got there pretty early and were just hanging out for about 45 minutes before our race started, but we got to watch the 1-mile fun run.  There were some really adorable kids running in the fun run.  I wish I had pictures, but I had my iPhone all tucked away in my arm band.
Nick snapped a picture of me before our race.  Surprisingly, I was actually kind of nervous for the race.  It was our first one and I had a horrible 3.5 mile run the night before.  I was hoping this wouldn’t be another repeat of the run/walk/misery episode from 12 hours ago, but it ended up being fine.  There was a nice breeze for part of it and Nick and I kept a good pace together for the first mile and a half before his cold started to catch up with him.  I’ve been using the Nike+ GPS app when I run, which tells me how far I’ve gone and my average pace after every mile and when the first mile was announced over my headphones, I was surprised at how fast we were going.  Granted it’s not fast by a strong runner’s standards, but my average pace has dropped right around 2 minutes per mile since starting the half-marathon training 4 weeks ago!
Here is the map of the race.  I haven’t spent much time in Irving up to this point, but it’s a nice suburb of Dallas with lots of canals that have trails running along them.  I don’t know if I’d ever want to live there, per say, but the water is a nice feature, even if it is man-made.  Anyway, I made it through the finish line and came in #6 in my age group.  Granted there were only 17 women in the 25-29 age group, but I was so proud of myself.  I was certain, I would be at the bottom of my age group, but it was a nice surprise to see that I did well for my age group.
Nick was not to far behind me and I was able to cheer him on as he ran through the finish line.  He was such a good sport, doing the race while under the weather.  Hopefully our next race together both of us will be in good health and I’m sure Nick will out-run me then!