Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Three words...Girl Scout Cookies.

Tis the season! I carted six boxes home from work today. My sister and I were Girl Scouts, briefly. We mainly joined for the cookies and the summer trip to the Frio River in central Texas. I've always thought that the cookies had so much appeal because they are only available during a certain time of the year. Everyone knows that they will be accosted by young girls peddling cookies in front of the grocery store come early Spring. However, I was sad to see generic brand "Thin Mints" and "Peanut Butter Patties" at Kroger the other day. Come on...stealing from the Girl Scouts? Is nothing sacred anymore?

Click here to see what the other man in my life (Andy Rooney) thinks of these cookies.

Also: click here to see lil Emma as a shining star on the KET Paw Pals website (she's the one next to Pancho.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Power of...Ricky Martin?

Going into yesterday's 8-mile run, I was pretty worried. The whole knee thing made me nervous, a stye that felt like the size of a golf ball had kept me in my glasses since Wednesday - and I wasn't sure how the transition back to contacts would be, and lastly the group was only doing five miles. It would be all on me to complete those last three miles. There would be no one there to see if I slowed to a walk, no one there to see if I took a shortcut. I've found that I do not have much self-discipline, so this extra three miles seemed like so much more than just an extra three miles.

As we started the run, I felt great. The knees felt good, contacts were fine, and I had Black Eyed Peas pumping through the iPod. I even had a PR (personal record) with my 5 mile time - 48 minutes. I was the first girl in, and that is always a huge confidence booster for me. So I finished the 5 feeling great, and I started on the last 3. About a mile and a half in, I was ready to throw in the towel. I knew from this point on it would be mind over matter. I was praying that a motivating song would be next on my playlist. My prayer was instantly answered as I heard...
Go, go, go, ale ale ale! (x2)
Go, go, go, here we go, yeah!

The cup of life, this is the one
Now is the time, don't ever stop
Push it along, gotta be strong
Push it along, right to the top"

Oh yes, Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life." The same song that sky-rocketed Ricky Martin to fame gave me that extra boost when I needed it the most. As cheesy as it sounds, I knew at this point that come hell or high-water, I would finish the run. And I did, and I felt like I was on top of the world. I had two PRs (5 mile @ 48 min, 8 mile @ 1:18). I still wish that I could chisel away a minute or so on my pace (which is normally about 9:45/mile), but for now I'm just focusing on completing the distances.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Karma Police...

I don't think that I am a very compassionate person. During my basketball and lacrosse days, and now with my running, I've always been one to roll my eyes when I hear others complain about pulled muscles or stretched tendons. I guess I've been really lucky to stay injury-free (knock on wood). And if something does start to hurt, I just keep on going and eventually it goes away. However, I'm quickly learning that training for a marathon is a little tougher on the body than I expected it to be, and this morning I found myself Googling "knees, running, pain, help."

After a five-mile run on Tuesday morning, my knees started bothering me. Nothing bad, just kind of a dull ache. Later that night, Chad and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings with some friends to celebrate Fat Tuesday. When we went to leave, it was pouring outside. We decided to run to the car, and I was surprised to see that my knees really started to hurt when I picked up the pace, so I was reduced to a slow, kind of limping, shuffle. This morning I was back at the gym for another 5 miles and the knees started killing me at mile 2. I talked with my marathon buddy at the gym and he told me that he and his wife take over-the-counter joint supplements for knee pain. I am definitely going to get some of those. I've also heard that icing the knees right after a run will help with inflammation and recovery time. So, at 6:15am I was sitting on the edge of our bathtub with my feet on the toilet, and a pack of frozen corn on one knee and frozen hash browns on the other.

A part of me kind of likes the pain. Just like I love being sore. It reminds me that I've done something, that I've pushed my body because I can. This is also why I run...because I can. I think that I love the running community and the personal scheduling almost as much as I love the actual physical running. This is probably why I have painstakingly planned out my runs through December 2008 in a color-coded Excel spreadsheet. And probably why I spend my lunch breaks poring over the discussions boards, looking for new tips and info. And probably why I blog about it so much. It's just this passion I've developed - a once mindless hobby that has become so much more. I desperately want to be part of the group of people that can say, "I've run 26.2 miles."

And there is nothing that can stop me from reaching my goal, except myself. So it's a fine line for me with this knee thing. I don't want to stop, for fear of never starting back. But I also don't want to risk damaging something and dashing my marathon dreams. Until then, I'll stay iced up with the frozen vegetables.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Three Part Post: Part 3

(3) Sunday
So we were so excited about trying out a new church this morning. To make a long story short, we have decided to start looking for a church in Nicholasville. We were planning on walking to church this morning, but we got a late start so we decided to drive. As we pulled up to the church, we didn't see a soul. The parking lots were empty and covered with snow. We can only assume that is was cancelled due to the weather - but there was no sign on the door or anyone there to say "hey, we're glad you came to our church this morning, but we're sorry that our services have been cancelled." So, we decided to try another church in the area. As we pulled into the parking lot of church #2, we read on the marquee that the service was at 10:30am. At this point it was about 10:50am, but we figured we could slip in the back without causing too much of a disturbance. As we walked into the foyer and went to open the door to the sanctuary, we realized that we would be walking into the front of the sanctuary...30 minutes late. For the life of us, we could not figure out how to get to the back of the sanctuary. We decided that we weren't ready to make a spectacle of ourselves on our first visit, so we headed back to the car.

By now, it was 11:00am and we realized that we were probably too late to make any services. So, we headed to Starbucks and discussed the state of the church over cappuccinos and macchiatos. We were pretty shocked at how non-visitor accessible these two churches were. Chad and I spent about an hour talking about what church meant to us, and what we were looking for. He also was very sweet and bought me a Starbucks Valentine's Day mug that was on clearance - such a great mug for only $4.99. I drink everything out of mugs - water, milk, orange juice, iced tea, Powerade - so I'm always on the lookout for a good mug.

After coffee, we headed to Wilmore to have lunch with our friends. There are three married couples whose husbands are first-year Asbury students that Chad met during his orientation at Asbury. We love these couples and they have become some great friends. We all got together for a delicious lunch of chicken spaghetti. Then we had conversation over bumbleberry pie and coffee for about four hours - the wives in the kitchen talking about everything under the sun, and the guys in the living room talking about Lord knows what. I loved every minute of this weekend.

Three Part Post: Part 2

(2) Saturday
Saturday started early with a 7:00am run to Wal-Mart. Next up was my long group run in Wilmore. Along with the start of the run came the start of the snow - I never thought that snow could be painful, but it hurts when it gets in your eyes. I had on so many layers - a tshirt, a longsleeve tshirt, a light jacket, a rain jacket, and a fleece jacket. By the third mile, I thought I was going to have a heat stroke. Luckily, the route passes right back by our cars, so I was able to shed a few layers as I was getting some water. We did seven miles this weekend and I felt really good during and after the run - minus the heat stroke part. After the run, I tried some Jelly Belly "Sportz Beanz." These are little jelly beans that are packed with electrolytes to replace all the stuff you've sweated out and to give you a quick boost of energy. I didn't plan on eating during the mini-marathon, but lately I've been re-thinking this decision. I can't handle eating gels and I don't have the pocket space to hold Powerbars, so I'm thinking these Sportz Beanz will be perfect. Plus, they taste really good. Next week I'm running eight miles, and I will start eating them at mile five. My guess is that they will give me more of a mental boost than anything, but I'll take what I can get.

After the run, some fellow runners and friends (Jeremiah and Lindsay) brought their little dog Jax over for a play-date with Emma. Let me tell you, those little dogs had so much fun together. Jax is a Lhaso Apso and he is so cute. Emma and Jax played pretty hard for two and a half hours - Emma was so worn out afterwards! She barely could lift her little head when I was giving her a kiss goodbye as we left to go to Wilmore Saturday night. Emma loves being around other dogs - but somewhere along the way she developed an Alpha Male complex. She's been known to stand up to German Shepards and Rottweilers, and she was pretty bold with little Jax, but I think it was all in good fun.

So, Saturday night we went over to Wilmore to play games with some friends (Peter, Jackie, and Maggie). Chad thought it would be a good idea to bring Yoo Hoo's and Peeps as snacks, and the Yoo Hoo's were a surprise hit. The Peeps didn't go over so well - and I have to admit that they are pretty disgusting. We played a game called "Apples to Apples" and it was so fun. We also got to talk Wilco with them - Peter and Jackie are pretty obsessed with them, too. We are really enjoying getting to know more people and develop friendships.

Three Part Post : Part 1

I've got a plethora of things to share from this weekend, so I am going to break this down into three posts: (1) my story for the week, (2) Saturday, and (3) Sunday.

(1) Story
I will preface this by saying that this is possibly my favorite story ever. An elderly lady had just finished her grocery shopping for the week and was loading her groceries into the backseat of her Buick sedan. She put the last bag in the car, and proceeded to return the cart to its proper place in the parking lot. As she walked back to her car, she pulled out a small kerchief from her purse to wipe the sweat from her brow. It was mid-afternoon in the middle of the summer, and the heat was almost unbearable. She climbed into the driver's seat of her car and started the engine. As she was reaching over to turn on the air-conditioning, she heard an extremely loud pop and felt a searing pain in the back of her head. She reached to feel the back of her head and she was horrified to feel a wet, mushy substance. Without much critical thinking, she quickly came to the conclusion that she had been shot in the head, so she laid her head on the steering wheel and prepared to die.

About 30 seconds later, a young man pulled into the parking space next to her. As he passed her car, he was alarmed to see the elderly woman resting her head on her steering wheel. He walked over to her car and knocked on her window. The woman, slowly lifted her head and looked at him. She rolled down her window and meekly said, "I've been shot in the back of the head." The young man looked at the back of her head and started chuckling. The wet, mushy substance on the back of the woman's head wasn't brain matter, but rather it was biscuit dough. The can of refrigerated biscuit dough in her backseat had exploded due to the extreme heat in the car, and it just happened to hit her square in the back of the head.

This story is so funny to me - and I think about it every time I see, make, eat, or buy biscuits. When I was in college, my friend (who was actually the person who told me this story) and I were Disciple Now leaders for a group of seventh-grade girls. As we were preparing the material for the weekend, we just knew that we had to somehow weave this story into our lessons for the weekend. We were able to use the story to illustrate something like 'you never know what life is going to give you' or something to that affect, and none of the girls thought that it was funny and/or applicable. Regardless, I still love this story.
Well, it is Sunday morning and I have already missed my first deadline. I will post the story I promised for Friday later this afternoon. Chad and I have had a really great weekend, and I will post more on that this afternoon, too. For now, we are off to visit a church that is just a few blocks away from our house. Somehow, Chad has convinced me that it will be a good idea to the my heels...and with my perfectly coiffed hair. Luckily, I have a huge scarf that I hope to somehow wrap around my head, neck, and face.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day 2007

Chad and I decided to delay Valentine's Day by two days this year. Since this Friday falls after a pay day, we decided it would be more feasible for us to celebrate on the 16th. Also, it's a heck of a lot easier to get reservations.

When I got home from work this afternoon, Chad got major bonus points by suprising me today with roses and all the fixins for a romantic dinner. He had all kinds of great things: rosemary baked chicken, roasted chicken cous cous, green beans, and garlic breadsticks. Chad got the chicken seasoned and in the oven, I got the green beans going, and then we sat down to watch an episode of Seinfield. When it was over, we went back in the kitchen to get started on the cous cous and breadsticks. I moved the green beans off of the back left burner and emptied the pot so that Chad could use it for the cous cous. He doctored up the breadsticks, turned the oven up by about 50 degrees, and put them in to bake.

As I was doing the dishes, I started to smell smoke. I turned around and saw that smoke was pouring out of the back left burner - where the green beans had been. I asked Chad to come into the kitchen to turn on the ceiling fan - thinking it might clear the room out a little bit. Suddenly the gray smoke turned to black smoke, and Chad pulled open the oven door. We were both shocked to see flames filling the oven! As is my usual response in most emergency situations, I froze, and then began to laugh uncontrollably. Luckily Chad is level-headed and always prepared in emergency situations, so he grabbed a box of baking soda (something I would have never thought of...) from the fridge and poured it into the fire.

Almost as quickly as it began, it was over. The fire was out, and we both still had our eyebrows. We tried to salvage the chicken, but there was no hope. The breadsticks - not pretty. So, me, Chad, and Emma piled into the car and headed to the Taco Bell drive-through. Chad felt so bad about the whole thing but I was secretly really happy to get some Nachos Supreme. So Valentine's Day 2007 ends with me having a full belly, an even fuller heart, and an acrid burnt chicken smell singed into my nose hairs.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Every Friday morning, NPR runs a brief segment called "StoryCorps: Recording America" during NPR's Morning Edition. I absolutely love this segment, and I am conveniently in my car both times that the NPR affiliate airs it, 6:30am and 8:30am. Here is a brief description from

"StoryCorps is roaming the country, collecting the stories and legends of everyday
America. The first-person accounts that emerge are a record of the way we live today -and how we got here."

These stories are also archived in the Library of Congress. In my undergraduate Speech Communication work, I often referred to Walter Fisher's Narrative Paradigm communication theory. Fisher's theory simply states that "all meaningful communication is a form of story-telling, or to give a report of events, and so human beings experience and comprehend life as a series of ongoing narratives, each
with their own conflicts, characters, beginnings, middles, and ends."

I love this theory and I believe in it because it is so evident in the world around us. The film and recording industries make billions of dollars each year because of this theory. Friendships and relationships are built around this theory. The whole Web 2.0 phenomenon andMySpace, Facebook, Friendster, etc - these seem to be so popular because they give people the opportunity to connect with one another and share their lives.

I can remember staying up until the wee hours of the night at sleepovers with new friends, shortly after we moved from Dallas to Houston when my sister and I were in the sixth grade. The only way for us to convey who we were, what our family was like, what our life experiences had been up until that point - the only way we could express this was by telling stories. My dad has always been a fantastic story-teller - he absolutely loves to tell tales (albeit, sometimes tall ones) and entertain us. I
think this is just one of the many reasons I love Chad so much - he's clearly been bitten by the story-telling bug, too.

So, in honor of Mr. Fisher and out of inspiration from StoryCorps - I am going to try and post a story every Friday. It will be a true story that I've either heard or experienced at some point in my life. Until my first story next Friday, let me leave you with a transcript from today'sStoryCorps on NPR. This morning story came from a husband and wife in Little Rock, Arkansas. They shared some accounts of their
life together, like their decision to marry when she was 70 and he was 58. The article doesn't really do the recording justice - but it is still heartwarming nonetheless.

Morning Edition, February 9, 2007 ·
When she was heading to college, Jo Ann Chew's father gave her two choices: She could take secretarial courses, so she'd have a career; or study home economics — because, her father said, "You'll besomebody's wife. You're too cute not to be somebody's wife."

She chose home economics, explaining, "I wanted to be somebody's wife."

Since 1995, that somebody has been Bob Chew. The two met in 1994, and after Bob overcame Jo Ann's resistance — she didn't think it was a good idea for him to marry an older woman — they got married.

Jo Ann is now 82; Bob is 70. And in December 2004, Jo Ann was diagnosed with dementia. One year later, she was told she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

As a result, Jo Ann says, "My doctor told me he did not want me to cook, and that was music to my ears."

So, Bob does most of the cooking now. "He's turning out to be quite a professional," Jo Ann says.

With their 12th anniversary arriving in October, the couple discussed how they met, and how they're coping with Jo Ann's condition.

As for regrets, Jo Ann only has one.

"Not having control of everything, of my thoughts, or my actions," she says. "And I don't think it's fair to you, either."

"You know I'm going to take care of you, don't you?" Bob asks.

"I do know that," Jo Ann says. "But you could have some cute little chick that you could be running around with, 10 years younger."

Bob's answer: "I have my princess right now."

"You're wonderful."

"You know I still love, you, right? More than ever?"

"I like to hear it."

Produced for 'Morning Edition' by Katie Simon.
The senior producer for StoryCorps is Sarah Kramer.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Triathalons and Anna Nicole Smith

A few weeks ago, Chad and I went to the new 1/2 Price Books in Lexington with some friends. I didn't really expect to find anything - but while browsing in the running section, I came across Becoming An Ironman: First Encounters With the Ultimate Endurance Event. It was one of those situations where I picked the book up, thought it looked interesting, but then I put it back. I walked around a little bit, browsed a little more, and then went back and picked up the book again. This time, I held onto it. Chad was so sweet - he put back one of the books he had picked out so that my book wouldn't put us over our pre-set "book budget."

This book is so motivating and inspiring. It contains about 20 or so stories of people's first experience with the Ironman. I've watched the Ironman several times on NBC, had two professors (a husband and wife) in college who completed the Ironman Florida together, and have talked with my twin sister for years about how we would love to compete in an Ironman competition some day. It seems like an insane event: a 2.4 mile open-water swim, a 112 mile bike race, and after all of that...a 26.2 mile marathon.

If I had access to a pool and was a decent swimmer, and if I had a road bike, I would love to compete in triathalons and duathalons. But for now - I will master the cheapest leg of the triathalon - running.

When my sister and I were freshmen in high school, we would spend our summer days practicing lacrosse or competing against one another. One day, we got the bright idea to create our own triathalon course. We established the course: first we would run a mile loop around the neighborhood, then we would bike the same loop, then finish with a swim in our pool. We decided that it would be best if we started at the same spot, but ran and biked in opposite directions so that we wouldn't kill each other along the way. We got to the starting line at the end of our driveway and started the run. We finished the mile pretty quickly, and reached our house at exactly the same time. Megan reached the bikes a few seconds before me - taking this time to kick over my bike. I laughed as I picked up the bike and started on my way. We finished the second leg at the same time, dropping our bikes in the yard as we scrambled towards the pool. Neither of us are very good swimmers, and as we thrashed along, we realized why the swimming leg is always first in triathalon competitions - it is so people don't get exhausted and drown during the swim. I don't even know who won that day (it was probably Megan) but I will always remember how much fun we had.

On a completely different note, I was sad to hear about Anna Nicole Smith's passing today. I am a total glutton for B-List celebrity reality shows, such as Growing Up Gotti, Breaking Bonaduce, Hogan Knows Best, and of course...The Anna Nicole Show on E!.