Monday, February 29, 2016

ABC Reads Challenge

Today I'm linking up with Andrea and Mia for another month of the ABC Reads Challenge! 

This month, I knocked out 4 letters: E, G, O, & W.

Etta by Gerald Kolpan
I really enjoyed this novel - a fiction story about a real woman with a larger than life reputation. Kolpan certainly takes liberties in this telling of the Wild Bunch (famous members include Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid) and the little known female companion of Sundance, "Etta", adding in a mix of truth here and there to give life to the unknown parts of her story. I felt it was very believable and made for an interesting read that I couldn't put down. 

Girl with all the Gifts
I wanted to give this a 3.5. Not a true 4 star for me, but a good read and a really interesting take on the subject matter. I don't want to give too much away. The way it was written, I think that Carey wants to keep the reader in the dark about Melanie and the other kids in her class. So you'll just have to read it to find out more! 

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson
Love. Love, love, love.  I don't even know where to start with this one. First off: Joshilyn Jackson can do no wrong in my eyes. She has this amazing ability to create characters that are so real, so alive, that you find yourself thinking about them when you're not reading her book, and wanting to ignore all other things to delve back into the pages of the story. The character Paula Vauss does not disappoint. She is one badass, broken lady. But Jackson gives her the ability to handle whatever comes her way in life, maybe with some stumbles along the way, but I was truly rooting for her in the end. Typically Jackson does not give her characters happy endings - perhaps the endings that they deserve, but not always tied up with a neat little bow. So I was surprised and quite happy with how Opposite of Everyone ended. I'm sad that I got this from the library, because I want to reread it to pick up some things that I'm sure I missed.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
I am also a huge fan of Liane Moriarty, and What Alice Forgot did not disappoint me. An intriguing topic - losing 10 years of your memory - coupled with a complete personality change makes this book a page turner. Can you imagine waking up one day with three children and a busy social calendar, when the last thing you remember was being pregnant for the first time as a newly married wife? Some of the ending was predictable, and yet surprising all the same. I really enjoyed this novel - and I think I need to add more Moriarty to my reading list!

So there's my list for February. I just got an email that my first March book is in at the library, so I can't wait to start it! 

What are you reading right now?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fitness Friday

Let me preface this with: I hate being injured and I hate not running. So my body and I are not friends right now.

Saturday - Instead of doing the 11 mile long run I had on tap, I did an hour on my bike. Not the same at all, but it is what it is.

Sunday - Rest. Lots of rest. I had a bit too much fun at the wedding on Saturday night, so physical activity was limited to the bare minimum today.

Monday - 45 minutes on the bike. Boring. Also pilates lower abs/butt, back & arms.

Tuesday - 42ish minutes of pilates cardio and abs today. I also started doing more therapy exercises for my posterior tibial tendon. Calf stretching, sole to sole touching, and theraband exercises detailed here. For review, the posterior tibial tendon is this:

That red tendon is the one I injured. The bottom part and where it connects in the foot is usually what hurts the most.

Wednesday - 50 minutes on the bike, and pilates leg day.

Thursday - 65 minutes on the bike with 10 one minute "sprints". This was kind of fun and nice to change things up instead of just pedaling away. I also did all the HIIT exercises on my Blogilates calendar, and man was it a workout! I burned 610 calories total for the day. Crazy!

Friday - Rest day? I'm actually kind of sore from my workouts yesterday, so I may just do some foam rolling and stretching today. Mayyyybe pilates.

What do you do for cross training? Have you dealt with tendinitis or another injury?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Word

It's Wednesday, which means it's word time with Deb Runs!

Today's word is: CONFIDENT

To be honest, I am in no short supply of confidence. On the outside, anyway.

Sure, I worry about things and have self doubt. Oodles of self doubt. But when it comes right down to it, I usually have the grit to get things done.

Hard run? You bet.
New social situation? Awkward, but I'm game.
New job or task at work? Git-r-done.

I think that a lack of confidence boils down to two things: fear and excuses.

We all get stuck in our "safe" places - jobs, home life, fitness or lack thereof, and get lazy. I absolutely HATE when someone tells me they can't work out for XYZ reasons. Then complain about it.

No. Just no. Back that truck up.

What you're really telling me is that you're afraid of change, afraid of trying, and you're comfortable in your current situation despite your complaints. That deep down, you're afraid to try for fear of failure.

But if we don't try, we'll never know. Right? That's one thing that has stuck with me over the years. You'll never know if you don't ask. Ask for that raise. Ask for more responsibility. Ask your body to do more for you. Ask for help!

Which circles back to confidence. (Trust me, it does)

When you are more confident in yourself and your abilities, you're not afraid to ask these questions. Even if it's just the confidence that you can handle the no. You can handle the failure, and see it not as failure but as a lesson in what not to try and what to do next.

I know I'm coming off like one cocky SOB, especially since I "can't" run right now. But that's due to an injury and I'm doing everything I can to get myself healthy so that I can get back to it. Because my body still has questions unanswered in it, and I'm not taking no for an answer.

What does confidence mean to you? Link up with us and tell us about it! 

Deb Runs

Monday, February 22, 2016

Weekend Getaway

Happy Monday friends! I'm still working on my coffee, so bear with me here. I'm feeling a bit slow this morning.

This weekend, we attended the wedding of a long time friend of Trav's from high school. I also know the bride from the United Way, so we were pretty excited to celebrate with the happy couple.

The wedding was about 2 hours away in a small little "resort" type town. We dropped Emily off with Grandma & Grandpa on Friday night so that we could take our time Saturday and not feel rushed to get there. The weather didn't want to cooperate, and we had a mini blizzard that morning, but luckily the snow stopped by the time we left. We ended up getting there with enough time to check in, grab some coffee, and get dressed without worrying about being late.

The ceremony was held at an event center about 10 minutes away from our hotel, and we lucked out by having shuttles to take to and from the wedding. Our shuttle driver missed the turn on the way there, so we all felt a little scrambled getting to the ceremony! But we got there with enough time to spare. The theme was sort of winter-cozy, with lots of wood and ice accents. The bridesmaids wore cardigans over their dresses and winter boots, and the groomsmen wore dressy sweaters rather than tuxes. I really loved that!

After the ceremony, we walked over to the reception area and found our table. The groom is a music lover, and has been in several bands, so naturally the tables were labeled by famous music groups. We were at the "Metallica" table - obviously the cool kids table!

Here we are, ready to rock! There was about an hour in between the ceremony and dinner, so we mingled and chatted with friends. The bride and groom came in then as well, so we were able to say our congrats early before they did a big "formal" entrance.

Dinner was excellent, but the real highlight was the dessert table! Instead of a traditional cake, the couple opted to do a traditional Norweigian Kransekake, which is like rings of cookie stacked together in a pyramid form. They break it, and supposedly the number of rings they break off is the number of kids they will have. I think they purposely broke off as little as they could!

Not their cake, but very similar

The couple planned a dessert bar for the guests in lieu of cake. There were cupcakes, different kinds of bars, cookies, and even mini pies! Trust me, I was all over that!

The rest of the night was mainly spent on the dance floor. We are dancing fools! It's a good way to burn off all that dessert. 

Yep, dancing fools!

We were very thankful for that shuttle bus home! I think I ended up in bed by 1am, which is way past my bedtime! But we were able to sleep in the next morning and get a good breakfast in before we had to head home.

Most of Sunday was spent relaxing and recovering from our partying ways. I'm feeling pretty back to normal at this point, but extra naps are always welcome! 

How was your weekend? When's the last time you've been up past your bedtime?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday! I'm so glad it's Friday for several reasons. A) We're going out to dinner tonight, which is very exciting for this unemployed-on-a-tight-budget gal, and B) we're going away this weekend! More on that later.

Saturday - Sweetheart 5k - recap here.

Sunday - Blogilates booty day. I did roughly 20 min of glute exercises with a few min of cardio at the beginning. Apparently my butt is out of shape, because even by that evening I was starting to feel it in the ol'glutes!

Monday - today was supposed to be a workout, but it snowed all day on Sunday and the plows didn't get out at all. So I swapped an easy 4 miler instead and ran on my treadmill. My glutes were happy with that. 4 miles @ 10:19 pace.

Tuesday - 45 minutes on the bike, as well as about 30 minutes of pilates. It was abs & cardio day on my Blogilates calendar. I wasn't sure if I was going to do all the recommended videos, but I surprised myself by sailing through them! The last ab one was definitely challenging, but I can tell that my core is getting stronger.

Wednesday - Today's workout was another fartlek interval workout. 5 x 3 min @ 8:00-8:10 pace, 3 min rest in between each. Although I had to do a 2 mile warm up, which was kind of different. I got up to run at my normal time - o'dark thirty, and just as I was about to head out I decided to check the weather. -17F. Uhm, no. I'm not having that. Can I tell you how sick I am of running in these ridiculously cold temps? So I waited until lunch time to go instead. Success! I was overdressed and sweated my butt off, but my intervals were: 8:04, 8:05, 8:07, 8:07, 8:04. I'll take that! 6.07 miles in 56:11.

Thursday- 4 easy miles in 38:19/9:34 average pace. I was listening to a podcast about the TrueForm Runner treadmill, which is supposed to help you run with correct form. Sounds really interesting, but out of my price range at the $5k mark. But I started paying attention to my form - leading with my chest, firing from my glutes, and those last two miles got quicker than "easy pace" at 9:26 and 9:31.  Not fast, certainly, but faster than I was supposed to be running. So there's definitely something to be said about running with correct form! Also? It was a balmy 18F. So much better than yesterday morning!

Yay for positive temps!
Friday - Today I'm a little down in the dumps about training. After going back and forth about this pain I've had in my posterior tibial tendon, I've finally decided that I need to rest it. I read this great article from my coaching website, after the urging of one of my coaches, and recognized a lot of the symptoms for pain. I'm hoping that it's not so far gone that I'll need weeks and weeks of rehab. Since it normally feels better after warming up (or a mile or two), I'm really hoping that I'm catching this early enough. My coach seems to think that with a little rest and doing the PT exercises, I'll be back to training for my May marathon in no time. Fingers crossed! So I started doing the exercises yesterday, wearing shoes all the time, and I ordered some therabands to do exercise.

I'm really starting to wonder what the greater cause of all these injuries are. Poor form? Training to accelerated? I'm really not sure, but it's starting to get very frustrating. I just want to run! Run marathons!! Is that too much to ask?

So for now, I'll stick to my bike and doing pilates to keep up some fitness. I'm hoping that one week, mayyyybe two weeks off will be all I need. That article indicates much longer....pray for me that it doesn't take that long, k?

I don't know about you, but I really need to burn off some steam this weekend!

How's your training going? Looking forward to the weekend?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Coffee Date

It's been awhile since we've had a coffee date, so let's enjoy a warm beverage and catch up. I know coffee isn't everyone's thing, so tea or hot cocoa are fine substitutes.

I joined a "clean eating" challenge from Feb 8-28th. So far it's going pretty good, although there are a few things that have been hard to give up. One is popcorn, but we eat "clean" popcorn anyway - GMO free seeds we pop with an air popper using coconut oil and minimal salt. The other thing is my Coffee-mate creamer. I typically drink a cup of half creamer and half coffee. No joke. But I found this Silk Almond milk creamer so I thought I'd give it a shot. It' not as creamy as the good stuff, but it taste ok, and it's probably a lot better for me. That's what I'm choosing to believe.

Monday was a holiday for government workers and schools - President's Day! Sorry to the rest of the world that didn't get this off. I, of course, had it off since I have every day off at the moment (yay unemployment!), so even though daycare was open I decided to keep Emily home to save a few bucks.

Our day consisted of:

Making huge messes in the family room.

Making belated Valentine's Day cookies.

Licking the mixers and getting it all over our faces.

Raw eggs for the win!
There was also some painting and movie watching that occurred. We would have played outside, but it was ridiculously cold again, and it would have taken longer to get dressed than she would have lasted outside. #notworthit

Perhaps the biggest news I have is this:

Hello, Alison:

I’d like to thank you for your interest in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Our education programs prepare students with the knowledge, skills, resources, and opportunities for lifelong learning and career development. We look forward to having you in the program and thank you for choosing the UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies.


I have to be honest though. That is a half-hearted "hooray". I'm kind of nervous about the whole thing. I've been down this road before, and it didn't happen. So just getting started and taking classes will be one thing. But then there's the "I haven't gone to school in 10 years! Tests? Papers? And when am I going to fit this all in!?!?" Running will probably move to the back burner - racing at least. Racing marathons, at least. I'll probably still run to keep my sanity. Hopefully the potential job that I may have secured will also allow for enough time to get my studies done. Also - how are we going to pay for this?!?

Sorry to be all cloak-and-dagger about this potential job, but it's not mine yet and I don't want to curse a good thing.

So that's my life right now in a nutshell. Hurry up and wait sums it up nicely.

What's in your coffee cup this morning? How's life?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sweetheart 5k

Good morning and Happy Monday! I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's weekend. Mine was nothing out of the ordinary, except that I ran a Valentine's themed race!

The Sweetheart 5k is a small event, put on by a group trying to raise money for a music festival. I'm a little fuzzy on those details, but my running group was one of the "sponsors" as we were timing the event. The weather was bright and sunny, but a chilly -12F at the start. Apparently the weather gods have decided that if I'm going to race in the winter, I always have to do it in negative temperatures.

Since it was the inaugural event, and with the weather being so cold, there were only about 40 runners total. Basically me and a bunch of my running friends decided to go have a race.

The race stared at a little building in a little park over to the left side of this picture. It was nice to have somewhere warm to wait before the race! I did a warm up mile, then hung out for about 10 minutes before we took off!

The route was around this lake in town, which was mostly trail but a little blacktop pavement. Or what would have been blacktop had there not been ice pack on most of the road. So the going was a little rough with hard packed snow, ice, and some clear spots. I clocked in my first mile at 8:10.

Right after "post 7" at the top of the lake, there was a tight switchback with ice on the ground. I thought I had it under control, but my feet slid right out from underneath me! I managed to pop right back up and keep going though, and that mile came in at 8:25.

The second time around I was a bit more cautious with the footing. I felt pretty good the entire run, although my breathing was a bit labored. I ran with my facemask and ski goggles like I did for Freeze Yer Gizzard, but it's still hard to breath in such cold temps. 

That final mile clocked in at 8:11. I kept seeing a friend of mine in front of me who was taking occasional walk breaks. I kept getting close to her, but then she'd start up again and take off. Later I found out she had some asthma issues going on, but still managed to finish ahead of me. I know she's faster than me though, so I kept thinking "If I get ahead of her, then I'm going to worry about staying ahead of her and I don't know that I can do that!"

My final time was 25:35 - not a PR,  but today wasn't a PR day. However, it was good enough to get 1st in my age group! I think I was maybe 4th female overall - maybe third, but I'm not sure. Gotta love those small races!

How was your Valentine's Day? Did you race this weekend?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday! Sorry it's been quite around here. I've had kind of an exciting week on the job front. I don't really want to talk about it yet, but I spent most of the week in interviews and filling out paperwork. Fingers crossed that it all is for a good reason!

Saturday - Long run with my running group. We had an all-time high of 16 runners! Normally we average 8-10 for these Saturday runs, so it was nice to see so many other runners! Unfortunately, there was no one wanting to run 11 miles at my slow pace, but I did hook up with another runner who ran 11 with me at an average of 9:33 pace. Too fast for an easy day, but we were able to chat the entire time, so I just went with it. I accepted my speeding ticket from my coaches later in the day. Oh well!

Sunday - Rest day, although I did manage to get in some Blogilates booty workouts. Glutes are important for runners, so strengthening them is essential!

Monday - Speed intervals on tap again for this morning. The workout portion was 3 intervals of 600m @ 7:00, 3 min rest, 400m @ 6:50, 3 min rest, 200m @ 6:40, with 5 min of rest in between each set. This was hard! I had to slow down the 600m intervals each time to 7:30, and there were multiple times when I was holding onto the treadmill for dear life, praying that the interval would be over! I was able to complete the very last 200m interval at 6:44 pace. Overall, it's done and I get an A for effort, even if I wasn't able to nail the paces. Overall 6.14 miles in 1:08:17

Tuesday - 45 minutes on the bike. Not much to report.

Wednesday - 6 easy miles in 1:01:24 on the treadmill. My anterior tibial muscle (runs along the outside of your shin bone) has been sore from the interval session on Monday, so I really just tried to take it easy. Foot tendons are all good.

Thursday - Another easy 6 miles in 1:02:00 on the treadmill. It was -20F this morning without the windchill. Uhm, didn't the groundhog predict an early winter? Doesn't seem that way this week! Shin is slightly better, but I think a good day of rest tomorrow will really help. 

Friday - Rest day, although I'll fit in 30 min of pilates this morning. Gotta keep up the strength training! Pretty much so that I can do this pose and look super fierce.

 How's your week going? Are you getting these freezing temps this weekend?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fitness Friday

Another Friday is upon us, which means it's another Fitness Friday training recap! This week my training plan changed to two workouts per week. It's getting serious here!

Saturday - I had to get this run done early, and it was supposed to be really windy. Can I tell you all how sick of running in freezing temps and wind I am? I've had enough. So I ran 10 miles on my treadmill. Thank goodness for Parenthood on Netflix. Overall, I kept it at a really slow pace and felt pretty good. I tried out running with compression socks to see if that would make a difference for my peroneal tendons. Surprisingly, yes. My posterior tibial tendon is still not super happy, but I think it'll just have to deal. 10 miles in 1:49:42.

Sunday - Rest day, although I did squeeze in about a half hour of pilates obliques and lower ab stuff. But mostly just rest.

Monday - Speed Drills! 1 mile warm up, 1 mile @7:50, 3 min rest, 800m @ 7:50, 2 min rest, 600m @ 6:50, 2 min rest, 400m @ 6:40, 1 mile cool down. I really liked this workout, even though I didn't quite hit the paces. But that's ok, because I know my body got the intended physical workout from it. I think I liked best that it was only 4 intervals, even if that first one was a whole mile. My average paces actually broke down to 7:49, 7:58, 7:02, 6:56. So, like I said, not quite there. The shorter the interval, the harder it is for me to zero in on that speed. Plus, I had programmed this into my watch and then kind of forgot what paces I was actually targeting. So that 2nd interval I kept thinking "am I going too fast? Too slow? Why is my watch beeping at me? Should I slow down? Oh no, speed up! Ahhhh!!!" Next time: pay more attention to the required paces. 4.72 miles in 42:52, average pace of 9:05.

Tuesday - 45 minutes on my stationary bike before breakfast, and then some pilates videos before lunch. Mostly some cardio, with abs thrown in. The names of the videos are the best part: Flat Stomach Fat Melter, Train Insane HIIT, and Perfect 10 Abs. Blogilates is also doing a challenge for the first 14 days of February where you are supposed to Instagram pics of specific poses. Today's was #getreadyhereicome. I don't know where she comes up with this stuff!

Wednesday - 5 miles on the treadmill at easy pace - average of 10:16. The temps were back in the single digits this morning, with lots of wind, so I figured taking it easy on the treadmill was totally ok.  Plus I'm trying to rehab these tendons in my feet - peroneals are feeling a lot better with daily calf/hip stretching and compression socks. My posterior tib is still not happy with me on run days. Fine when I'm walking or running, but if I turn my foot in sharply, there's pain. Weird, right? 

Thursday - Fartlek run: 1 mile warm up, 5 x 800m at 7:40-7:50 pace (3 min rest), 1 mile cool down. This run was a little tough. Overnight we got a dusting of snow, and it's been very cold so the roads were a little slick. I managed to power through the intervals with the rest periods in between. It's funny because when I read this workout, I thought "oh, I won't need that much rest!". Wrong. Those 3 minutes were a welcome relief! My intervals broke down to 7:51, 7:52, 7:50, 7:51, 7:53. So juuuuust shy of the target pace zone. But with the road conditions, I think it's a win. 5.81 miles.

Friday - Rest day. The inside of my ankle has been bugging me more than I'd like. I'm also meeting a friend for lunch, so I just don't know that I'll be able to fit in anything today. But I'm ok with that. 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesday Word

I'm linking up with Deb Runs again for her Wednesday Word post. Today's word is heart

We all know what that is, right? I don't need to bother with a definition, right?

There are so many ways this post could go. Deb talked about heart health, as February is National Heart Month. Go read her post, she has some great tips about staying heart healthy.

But for me, the word heart kept resonating with me in one way: follow your heart.

If you've been reading my blog for the past few weeks, you'll know that I was laid off at the beginning of the  year. This presented some challenges, some meltdowns, and more than a few late night heart-to-heart talks with my husband.

My heart lies in books. In reading. The library or a book store. A good story, a bad story, a biography, whatever. I love them all. From an early age, I read as many books as I could possibly consume. I was an English major in college, for the sole fact that I got to read - maybe not what I wanted, but I didn't want to go to college anyway, so if I had to (and I had to said my parents), then I was going to spend those years doing something I liked.

Unfortunately, that never really translated into a profession for me. Real life and bills caught up to me, and after 4 years of college, I was just over school. What I should have done was gone on to get a Masters of Library Science.

Light bulb.

I actually had this epiphany a few years ago, but then I got pregnant and life again was weighing down on me, so it got pushed off. But this time, I feel like it's my chance to listen to my heart. I think, anyway.

Sometimes listening to your heart is scary.

It means that I will likely work part time, and therefore our income will be reduced. It could mean a lot of debt for us. It means that I'll have tests and homework, and that is really scary.

I applied to the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee for their online MLIS degree anyway. The first step is getting in. I can handle the first step.

I know I've talked about this a bit in past posts, but today I feel like it's really coming to a head for me. I've had some good job interviews: 2 part time and 1 full time, and my head and heart are warring a bit about which road I should go down. I haven't received an official acceptance letter yet, but based on some stuff going on with my online application, I feel like I'm in. I have an interview with the county next week for what may likely be a great job - safe, secure, pays well, good benefits, etc. So my mind may change again.

But I'm trying not to listen to that pesky brain today. Today, I'm following my heart.

Deb Runs

What does the word heart mean to you? Link up and tell us about it!

Monday, February 1, 2016

ABC Reads: A link up

I'm linking up with Andrea's Adventures and The Chronicles of Chaos for their ABC Reads Challenge.

The idea is pretty simple: one year to read a book starting with each letter of the alphabet. 26 books. Hopefully this is easy peasy for me, but I know I'll struggle with some letters like X!

This month, I knocked out R, M, and I:

Running Away by Robert Andrew Powell. A book about a man who basically hits a midlife crisis and decides to train and qualify for the Boston Marathon in one year. For those non-runners out there: that's nearly impossible. But he has hope, because his father did just that when he was the same age as Powell in the book. It was a really interesting read, and helped to motivate me to get my running shoes on during some really bleak January days.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. Set in the early 1900's, this novel explores some interesting themes about love and the human psyche. A bit slow at times, but still a page turner.

I'll Find You by Nancy Bush. Not my typical read at all, this romantic suspense novel is a page turner for sure. I was really surprised how much I liked it! The main character is Callie Cantrell, who unfortunately could be the twin of a killer. She meets up with West Laughlin, and they find out they have a lot in common thanks to the mysterious killer. The ending really took me for surprise. So sometimes it is good to step out of the box sometimes!

I love the idea of this link up, and I'm looking forward to learning about some new titles to add to my list!