Monday, February 24, 2014

My source of anxiety

As per usual, I spent Monday recovering from a wild weekend of partying and bar hopping. On Friday, we had our friends Carolyn and John over for a double date. Most notable part: Carolyn made whoopie pies. I love any dessert with more frosting than usual.

Second most notable - the girls were winning Taboo until the guys snuck up from behind.

Sometimes I wear the top/makeup/jewelry I wore to work and pair it with attractive striped different colored pajama bottoms for a Friday evening outfit. #ootd

Our crazy night ended with some Dance Central. That, I did win. (Dancing to Doncha, by the Pussycat Dolls).


Remember when "I want/had John Williams at my wedding" was a Facebook group? Remember Facebook groups?
Saturday, I went to an educational technology conference. It doesn't sound fascinating, but that's what I'm getting my masters in. Plus, I think I've made it clear that I love many things that most people find strange. Also, it was at the Four Seasons, and it's unlikely I'll ever get invited there for any other reason.

In case you weren't aware, I have a pretty impressive job title.

Please note the chevron pattern on my dress. I also posted a healthy dessert last week, and I have an oh-so-whimsical chalkboard, so I'm basically a healthy living blogger now. 

Sunday, I had a lot to do. Therefore, I did the logical thing and didn't do any of it, instead choosing to read Dance with Dragons (the fifth Game of Thrones book) most of the day. I'm now pleased to report that I have no groceries, grading, or grad work done, there's clean laundry covering most surfaces in my home, but I have read 85% of the book.

I'm having serious anxiety about finishing the book, because it's clearly going to end on horrific cliff hangers and the next book in the series won't be out until like 2017. I get anxiety about finishing books that I love to begin with, because then I have to say goodbye to the characters and find a new really good book to read. I've now devoted like 2 years of my life to these characters (even though I don't remember who half of them are and many died along the way). I have 24 books marked "to read" on Goodreads and none are appealing right now. Please help me. Bear in mind I need a break from horrific bloody battle and torture scenes.

I'm still branching out a bit from running workouts. On Thursday, my assistant principal ran a boot camp in the gym after school. It worked out great because I will literally never do things like pushups, burpees, and one minute wall squats (or any squats) unless someone tells/forces me to. I'm going again tomorrow. Friday, I did the bike trainer. Saturday was a rest day, and Sunday was just too beautiful not to run outside.

What topic would you give up your Saturday to attend a conference on?

Also, seriously, good books. Go.

P.S. Check out my sister's post on how awesome I am.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Some nasty food pictures, for your viewng pleasure

The weather actually allowed me to work a full day today and I'm exhausted. It's possible that's also because I'm apparently suffering from insomnia now. Although I enjoy reading Dance with Dragons at 3am, overall, I'm not a fan. I googled cures and it's all things I'm doing like...exercise. Limit caffeine close to bedtime. Don't pay your bills in bed (wtf?).

It's not all bad. It did lead me to the wonderful discovery of this website. If you are obsessed with Game of Thrones and have absolutely no memory, I highly recommend it.

This week, I did two Jillian Michaels workouts (in honor of her 40th birthday yesterday, btw I'm a major fan girl). 30 Day Shred, Level 1 Monday, Level 2 Tuesday. So embarrassing how much a 25 minute workout kicks my ass.

This morning I ran on the treadmill and watched Game of Thrones (when I find something I like, I stick with it). The temperature was in the 50s today, which leads me to believe that someday I will see sidewalks again, and maybe even run outdoors again.

I've made it quite clear that I prefer desserts of the ridiculously rich, decadent, and horrible for you variety (see: fried oreos). But, like most women, occasionally I think to myself, hey, bikini season is around the corner (not to mention my sister's wedding!), maybe I should stop eating huge bowls of ice cream every night like a total lard.

Obviously, just eating dinner and being done with it isn't an option for me, so when this line of thinking occurs I usually venture into the "healthified" dessert category. I had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago and made chicken fajitas with black rice. I like my rice like I like my men. Good for you and arsenic free.

My friend Casi sent me this recipe for black rice pudding. I used coconut cream for extra fat, which brought back fond memories of that time I thought the whole30 diet was a good idea. The recipe has real sugar and I added real whipped cream instead of fruit, so maybe it wasn't as healthified as I thought.

Like most semi-healthy desserts, it looks positively disgusting.

I'll probably quit teaching when my food photography book takes off.
It was pretty good though, and I'm out of ice cream, so I'll probably keep eating it until it's gone and feel virtuous and holier than thou.

Anyone have any miracle cures for insomnia?

Do you believe in any healthified desserts? I usually judge them until my jeans start getting tight and then I temporarily hop on board. I'd pretend it's just all because I "feel so much better!" when I eat "real foods", but no one likes a liar. I'm just vain.


Monday, February 17, 2014

A romantic Valentine's Day with my new friend

As I previously stated, it's my firm belief that Valentine's Day is a woman's holiday, so instead of fighting it, I embrace it. Although I did technically choose a man for my life partner, I see no reason why that should hold me back. I just mainly reserve Valentine's Day festivities for my (female) besties. Yet another reason I don't believe in the concept of marrying your best friend.

On Sunday, we had our annual super romantic Valentine's Day date. We try to expand our horizons with different activities.

Can you imagine trying to bring your husband here? NO.
Our husbands were pretty confused by the concept. You role in, choose a pre-made pottery piece, and use their paints and various other decorating materials (if you're artistic, I stuck with the paintbrush), and create a masterpiece. The scene from Ghost does not factor in at any point.

We did have one other painting pottery experience, back in 2006. It was one of the most stressful days of my life. It turns out that if you don't have an artistic bone in your body, paying to use materials that real artists use won't change that.

In light of that experience, my main goal this time around was to choose something that I could just paint, without worrying about trying to create a pretty design. I left that to the real artist in our party (Casi). She designed a whole beach themed serving plate and dish. I bow down to her talent.

I went with the frog. I can cover it in green, no problem. Plus it's meant to hold your kitchen sponge.

My plan worked perfectly, and I enjoyed a stress free experience. I did tune out of some portions of conversation because I was really focused on perfectly applying my green paint.

The semi-finished product:

The place fires and glazes it, so supposedly all the colors will be what was promised on the poster, instead of the weird ones you see here. I'm truly looking forward to our reunion in a week. From then on, my creation will be proudly displayed on the kitchen sink.

Since Saturday's race, I haven't ran. I did the bike trainer Sunday, and a Jillian Michael's DVD today. I'm not really sore or anything, I just wasn't in the mood to run.

Tomorrow I have to return to work after this glorious, 5 day snow break. I'm pretty apprehensive. I'm not sure I remember how to work.

What's your favorite way to celebrate Valentine's Day?

Do you find artistic endeavors enjoyable or stressful?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Frozen Heart Trail Race recap

Edited to add: Although it was secret at the time, now I can admit that Dalton joined me for this race! I was 8 weeks pregnant while on this crazy, cold, snowy adventure!

Trail races are never easy, and as I've learned this winter, one thing that makes them extra challenging is snow. Running in snow is like running in sand. To add another layer of difficulty, when temperatures get above freezing, it becomes like alternately running through sand, mud, a slushy from 7/11, and then like swimming when you get to the particularly deep water.

I'm ashamed to admit I almost bailed on the race because those conditions didn't sound appealing. That was coupled with the fact that I'd get home from work around 10pm Friday night, and need to be up at 4am Saturday.

But, as it often does, craziness took over, and I wanted to get my money's worth on last month's Yak Trax purchase. So I found myself on the road before 5am wearing running clothes. Even with a significant amount of caffeine, the two hour drive was rough.

You can see the excitement as I picked up my bib.

At least the view at sunrise didn't suck.

My frown turned upside down pretty quickly though. I don't know if it's rare to have a race organized and put on by runners, but this race was and it showed. This was the inaugural race held by Kara's running club, but it was so well organized you never would have known. Major racing companies could learn from them, I've seen some major first time race debacles. They had everything a runner could want, from hand warmers to a warming tent at the finish with three kinds of nice, hot soup.

Logan and I planned to run together, which was a huge motivating factor in even going to the race. Something about the woods, in snow, thanks.

After a short pre-race briefing, we were off.

As you may have noticed, my life has not been exciting enough lately to warrant photographs. Logan, Kara, and some race volunteers got a ton of great photos yesterday, so I'll make up for my text filled posts with a complete photo overkill this time.

I'd run these trails before, but it was nearly three years ago, back when I first decided to try out this "hey, this random internet stranger commented on my blog, maybe they'll be my friend, I'll go meet them in the woods!" lifestyle. (Side note - my friend asked me recently how many people I'd met through blogging, and I couldn't even figure it out/count that high.) Anyway, the point is, I'd forgotten that they are fairly hilly.

Probably a hill. Whatever. They don't photograph well. Just trust me.
As I said, the terrain kept us on our toes. One minute you'd be trekking through deep mud.

Taken during one of my particularly fast portions.

Then a few inches of snow.

Then doing that weird skip/jump/sort of running thing to avoid water.

There was really no avoiding it.

Then getting to deep water and realizing your options are getting your feet soaked, or developing Katniss Everdeen skills and setting up shop in the woods.


Then you'd be back to just wet leaves and it was like any other trail run.

Or, sometimes, the road, apparently.

The watery parts really weren't so bad, although they were fairly constant. Trail shoes/smart wool socks "dry" pretty quickly, or at least wicked away enough water so that you didn't feel the way you did when you wore your sneakers on the log flume and then had to keep them on the rest of the day around the amusement park. For the most part, the water wasn't super cold. Only the shin-deep mini rivers were icy.

I was having so much fun chatting with Logan it was run of those runs where every time I'd look at my Garmin I'd be like "woah! ______ miles already?". Such a rare gem, those runs.

How did I run before blogging buddies again?
There was an aid station at the five mile point.

See those Cheez-Its? Kara got them JUST FOR ME.

After that, Logan and I ran with my friend Kathleen and her running buddy Deb for a few miles (maybe? I was still really into the conversation. Such a dedicated runner.). This was also during the shin deep water, more like wading than running portion of the race.

I tend to not really believe this when I read it, but before I knew it, we were at the finish line. 

10.7 miles, 2 hours 33 minutes.

The medals were bags of Valentines candy. Edible is always better.

They even had cookies with custom M&Ms! How cute are these?
You had the option of doing 1, 2, or 3 loops. As much as I enjoyed the race, I knew early on that I'd be stopping at 1. My feet were utterly soaked, and I was exhausted, plus I had to go straight to work, without even stopping at home for a nap. (Actually, I did nap in my car for like 10 minutes). People that did 20 or 30 miles on this course have ALL MY RESPECT.

Yeah, I think I picked up enough mud on 1 loop.

Overall, this race was fantastic. Do yourself a favor and sign up in 2015.

What's your least favorite terrain to run in? I'm sticking with snow. It's like 100 times harder than normal running.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A blessing in disguise

Believe it or not, I actually have something running related to talk about on the blog! Tomorrow, I'm running the race Kara organized - Frozen Heart. I signed up for the 50k, but I'm not sure that option is going to work out anymore. First of all, I haven't done a double digit run since early January. Second of all, the weather here has been a hot mess.

We got a massive amount of snow yesterday, 16.5 inches according to NWS. That's the equivalent of 7 feet for Upstate NY, where I'm from, in terms of damage and recovery. From what I can tell, the state of Maryland owns around 5 plows and a bucket or two of salt. So the roads won't be fully clear until at least Monday. Our street is currently filled with snow and the few cars I've seen attempt it have slid all over the place.

If that gets cleared up in time for me to get to the race, I face different problems. Even though Kara lives in the same state, only 2 hour away, they got about only an inch of snow. Just enough to melt, refreeze, and make tomorrow's race a slushy, muddy mess.

In 2014, I have already learned the hard way what happens when you attempt a trail race you aren't trained for in terrible weather conditions that you aren't familiar with. I will not be making that mistake again. Luckily, this race is a loop, so there is a 10.5 mile option, and a 21 mile option. If things don't go according to plan, Kara is working the halfway aid station, so I calling it quits is possible at five mile intervals. Kara even promised to be really snide to me about taking me back, and then flame my blog with angry comments under "anonymous" for the following week.

In terms of running, my foot has been feeling better. I did some cross training - mainly things I could do at home, since it's cold and nasty and I hate going anywhere that's not strictly necessary. The good thing about a foot problem is that you can still do the bike trainer, and some workout DVDs. I did venture out to Bikram yoga last week. I thought the 115 degree temperature would be a nice relief from constantly being freezing, but it was still torturous.

I'm hesitant to jinx it, but things may be on the upswing. Tomorrow will probably be telling. However, the 100 mile race is only two months away, and I've lost a lot of training time. 2014 may not be the year for me to accomplish this goal. I haven't deferred yet, but it's been on my mind. It's hard to admit total defeat, especially for something that I've been so excited about. I'm trying to come up with an alternate spring goal to focus on to lessen the sting a bit. Maybe another triathlon?

In other news, we took on a big commitment last night. We began watching Breaking Bad. We've been discussing choosing a new TV show for awhile now, and we finally went for it. We almost met with disaster when a few minutes in, our power went out. I immediately panicked, because I need flannel pajamas and five blankets to stay warm with the heat ON, so that was a major problem. Luckily, it came back on about ten minutes later. When we turned Breaking Bad back on, we discovered we had started with episode two by mistake, so the power outage was a blessing in disguise (since it remained on all night). Now it just needs to stay with us today, and tomorrow it won't matter since I'll be slogging through a muddy mess in the freezing woods, because I know how to have a good time.

How are you celebrating Valentine's Day? We'll probably do some grad work, maybe watch some more Breaking Bad, and then I'm going to work tonight. WILD.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lots of excuses for not blogging

Last weekend was a glorious weekend. I slept a lot, laid low, and only interacted with a very few of my closest friends. Friday night, Eric and I ordered Thai food and watched the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics. The winter Olympics get a lot of crap, but have you seen curling? It's weirdly fascinating. I'm watching it right now.

Saturday, I actually ran! And more shockingly - outside! I met Lily downtown and we did just under five miles. I felt surprisingly good. We also met an out of town runner and hung out with her while we showed her our usual route. One step closer to undoing Baltimore's scary "The Wire" reputation.

I intended to write a post Monday night, but was unable to. It was 24 degrees out when I got to work that day, and I arrived to find I had no heat in my classroom. So that was a pretty fun day. I mean, who needs heat to learn or be productive, right? Let's not spoil those kids.

I got home around 6, and it took until 8 or so to regain feeling in my hands. Unfortunately, that's about the time my brain shuts down for the evening. I do often flirt with disaster and blog that late, but this time I was fairly sure coherent thoughts were beyond my realm of abilities.

Just before I left for work Tuesday morning, I got an email saying my heat was back on. I don't think there's ever been a time in my life when I realized how grateful I was for something I had previously taken for granted. I spent all day Tuesday feeling the type of overwhelming joy that's usually reserved for the last day of school, or the day before Christmas break, or how I would imagine it would feel to get a raise.

On Tuesday, we celebrated Valentines Day, due to scheduling conflicts for Friday. I'm not super into Valentines Day as a romantic holiday, which is weird, because I really like candy and the color pink. I guess it just feels a little forced to me? At least between spouses. I have a great tradition of celebrating in an over the top, cheesy romantic way with my girl friends. Last year, it was ice skating, and TWO Nicholas Sparks movies.

But despite all that, we had a great Valentines Day date. There's a place exactly a mile away from us (along my main running route) that has really good burgers, and they're only $4 on Tuesdays. Somehow, we've never gone. We finally made it a priority, and stuffed our faces with burgers and curly fries.

The part I really wanted to share was dessert. Beer battered, deep fried oreos with whipped cream.

Clearly, I knew it would be delicious, but I was unprepared for just how incredible it was. We were even able to share it, which is unheard of in my life. I used to be an oreo purist, but it turns out, they can be improved.

We have a huge blizzard coming. Again. That's in no way a complaint. School has already been canceled for tomorrow. I've been teaching so long, I remember a time when you had to actually watch TV to get information on the closings. Sometimes I had to wait with baited breath until they scrolled through the entire alphabet for the verdict.

Now? The superintendent just tweets it. I love the future.

I'm looking forward to a day filled with sleeping and Olympics tomorrow. I'll throw some grad work in there in between naps.

If you could participate in a winter Olympic sport, which would you choose? Cross country skiing seems to require more endurance than skill, which could be my best bet. But now my dream is to be an Olympic curler (curl-ist?).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lazy beyond all belief

There's not much that can beat the pleasure of turning the alarm off and not going to work on a snow day. Yesterday, though, something better happened.

An unexpected snow day. Teachers in the south moonlight as meteorologists, because it's really important to know if there's the slightest hint of a shorter workday, or in a perfect scenario, no workday. As a result, so far every snowday this winter has been glorious, yes, but anticipated. Until this week.

We've had a ton of snow this winter. There's not many times where my life choices of being a poor teacher and a lowly renter are validated. Snow days are really all I have. While others have to worry about shoveling the driveway they own to get to the job that gives them periodic pay raises,  I have no worries. I'm free to stay in bed until 5pm, which is exactly what I did.

I spent the whole, entire day with my best friend.

My body pillow. Close second: my electric blanket.

I did get up briefly for Raisin Bran and Kelly and Michael, but other than that, bed. Reading, dozing, repeating. I began to rewatch Orange is the New Black, because if there's one thing I hate, it's broadening my horizons with new experiences when I already know what I like.

I even ate my second bowl of Raisin Bran (for lunch, because cooking is hard. So is putting together a sandwich) in bed. I did grad work in bed. Basically this whole post is that fortune cookie joke.

While I did have to return to work today, it wasn't so bad, because I have future laziness to look forward to. My weekend is wide open, with no plans, other than meeting Lily for a run. So I intend to replicate yesterday's wonderful experience. I might get slightly more motivated though and return to my crocheting. I haven't made much (any) progress so far.

That's about it in my life so far. Except that my random act of kindness pal at work left me three Lindor Truffles in my mailbox. That made today only slightly less amazing than yesterday. I probably spelled that wrong but they are long gone and so are the wrappers.

What other TV shows are good for binge watching? It basically needs to hook me within 5 seconds, and not be something that Eric would like, because then we could watch together (he's working/doing grad work this weekend).


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Attempting a personality change

I'm not generally one to notice things like this, but some astute readers have noticed that this running blog is missing something. Like...running. Especially considering I have that big 100 miler coming up.

Well, things haven't exactly gone as planned. Everything started out great. Just kidding, I typed that, then remembered the whole PHUNT debacle. Well, everything started out, anyway.

I complained of some foot pain after the Stone Mill 50 miler. Since mid January, things haven't felt right on my runs. I've done the usual - cut runs short, take extra rest days, ice, compression, elevation, cross training, etc. But I haven't felt any better. If anything, running has gotten worse.

I really would love to be a "glass half full" type of person. Actually, even being a "glass half empty" type would probably be an improvement over my current personality.

This pretty much sums me up.

I derive great fear from my friends' experiences, and since I'm very popular with many friends, I suffer. My partner in crime for the 100 miler is going through the worst, most horrific injury of all time. Naturally, that makes me even more paranoid than usual.

I'm trying this new approach to life. Usually, when something prevents me from running as I'd like, I think about it and talk about it constantly. I blog about it excessively, with every insignificant detail, ask everyone to diagnose me, and then aggressively pursue Web MD diagnoses on my own. I get hysterical, depressed, and essentially suffer a complete mental breakdown.

This does not bring me happiness.

So I'm trying something new. Not obsessively blogging and talking about my lack of running and accompanying symptoms, banning myself from Web MD, and trying to focus on the positive side of things. Extra free time! Sleeping in on Saturdays! I'm 29% of the way through Dance with Dragons!

In summary, 100 miler training has been put on hold, I'm feeling calm and optimistic about it, and time will tell what happens with running this spring.

Are you a glass half full, glass half empty, or direct TV commercial type of person? As you can see, I'm attempting a complete overhaul. Jury's out on how successful that will be.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I have returned

Hey internets! After going dark for a week and a half, I'm back. I've gotten at least 3 requests to verify I'm alive in that time, which leads me to believe that this blog is not completely just for me (although it mostly is).

Well, believe it or not, I snubbed the internet in favor of real life people. I know, it's shocking and really unlike me, reserved for only the finest company.

My mom and stepdad visited last week, and they are significantly better than the internet, or at least, we took Buzzfeed quizzes together. There were quite a few wild activities.

Beer drinking.

Ikea. A world of its own. I tried Swedish meatballs for the first time.

Carrots don't grow on trees.
I actually consented to see a movie in theaters. Despite what this picture looks like, we were indoors.

Ironically, seeing Frozen. At least I think that's irony, based on what I learned from Alanis.
I've since listened to this song on repeat approximately 700 times since we left the theater.
 We did a lot of hanging around, chatting and watching TV. Sometimes that can make your back a little stiff. Thank god for bed specs.
It's not a visit in my family unless everything you eat is good enough to change your life.

Pioneer woman frittata, and bacon cheddar jalapeno cornbread.

They had to leave Wednesday morning, but we got a little extra time together in the form of a two hour delay. And the timing for that delay could not have been any more perfect.
It was the day the love of my life showed his underwear on Good Morning America!
Before they left, they literally made my dreams come true. I'm quite short (just shy of 5'2), and we have a hideously tiny kitchen, which requires us to store a lot of stuff really high up. I've wanted a step stool for awhile, but apparently not enough to, you know, actually go to the store and seek one out. Tuesday night, I had a dream they found the perfect one for me.

When I got home from work Wednesday, the stool was waiting for me in the kitchen! No longer must I fear (literally) not being up to the task of emptying the dishwasher.

Wednesday and Thursday night I had to work past my bedtime (8pm). Lots of people do this all the time, and don't whine about it, but I'm not one to avoid a chance to complain. Anyway, it didn't leave any time for blogging, as my priority was to get into bed within four seconds of taking my coat off.

Also, the new semester has begun for grad school.

We had bad weather tonight, so we got to attend class at home via the interwebz, and in my case,
in my forever lazy.

This weekend, I was on the edge of my seat with the rest of America during that nail biter of a game. I also did something far more exciting.


I had 90s movie night with my BFFs on Saturday, and after the movie (Reality Bites), we busted out the Twilight board game (possibly my finest Goodwill find). The rules were pretty complicated. It was like that game that Chandler makes up to force Joey to take his money.
Our favorite part was the "who can make the best Bella face" challenge.

Coming up with a way to take this picture with everyone's phones in use was harder than I'm comfortable with.
I would like it noted that I made Pioneer Woman mocha brownies last Sunday, and this is what they look like today.
I made these 8 DAYS AGO
It's rare for a pan of brownies to last even 3 days with just me and Eric, so for this to happen even when we had guests helping us eat them is truly shocking. Full disclosure - I went to Carolyn's for the superbowl, and I had a brownie that she made for dessert, but STILL. And it's not because they aren't delicious, they are EPIC.

It's good to be back on the internet. I might even go read a few blogs now, before I pass out.

What was your favorite 90s movie? I'm torn between Clueless, Titanic, and Forrest Gump. All classics.