Saturday, February 27, 2010

Always behave like a duck...

...stay calm and collected on the surface, but paddle like the devil beneath the water!
I love that quote, and that was my motto throughout this week. Do you ever feel like the entire universe is against you? I am usually a very happy-go-lucky, laid back person, but a few days out of the month, I feel like no matter what I do things are not going to go my way or how I planned for them to go, so I might as well just suck it up, deal with it and wait for the storm to pass, knowing the sun WILL come out again eventually. There wasn't anything tragic or overtly malicious that happened to me this week. It was just a bunch of little things that kept happening, and happening, aaaaaand happening, until finally I reach the point where I just have to laugh and say "seriously???". Some of this could be due to hormones, which can make a person a bit irrational. I know it is also because of mental and physical exhaustion. I get emotional and irrational when I'm tired, and working two jobs while doing a pretty strict training regime for my upcoming races has started to catch up with me. I really do feel like I have weeks, however, where everything goes my way and I'm walking on cloud nine, but I never let myself get too comfortable because I know it won't last forever. Just like the bad times don't last forever. It's hard to explain to someone else why I'm having such a terrible day, because all the little things that happen really are not a big deal at all, but when they keep happening, I eventually reach my breaking point and have a good cry. The funny thing is, it's usually something REALLY small that eventually make me cry, like a pencil breaking, or stubbing my toe. It's the accumulation of events, not one particular event, that causes the cry. After that, I'm usually ok and things start to turn up again. Amongst a million other teeny things that happened on Thursday, the icing on the cake was that I made myself go to the gym for my 6 mile tempo run, as much as I just wanted to go home and pull the covers over my head. The goal was to hold 6:45-7:00 pace for each mile, which I did. But I struggle on treadmills- something about constantly being able to check how much longer I have left makes it a lot more difficult than running outside for me. So I need a good soundtrack to keep me going. For some reason, my Ipod was against me that night too, and as I began to struggle mentally with the run, and the temptation to hit the "slow down" button was creeping up on me, I needed some solid rock music to pull me through. Well, my Ipod somehow chose every slow song known to mankind- love songs, symphony music, you name it, it played it. I frantically kept hitting "next", but to no avail. I finally just accepted this run was going to make me more mentally tough; I buried my head down, did my best to encourage myself and not look at how much time I had left. I was able to finish the run with a 6:45 average pace, which was my goal, but man was it tough. And then, my Ipod decided it would break after that! I just laughed. I've gone through so many days like this in my life now that I know you just have to get through it and it will get better, but man do they suck! I won't go into detail about everything else that happened because frankly, it's boring. I had a lovely dinner with a wonderful friend last night, and that helps. Friends, a bit of mental toughness, and faith are what pull you through rough times. I can already feel things getting better, so once again, I know I will be fine. I think you need days like that to not take the good days for granted. My coping skills sure have sharpened since I've become an adult and there are a lot more things that can go wrong!
One thing in particular that kept me going through this week was the wonderful news that I found out one of my very best friends, Michelle, is coming to visit me for 5 days in March! I can't even begin to explain how excited I am. We have a good time no matter what, but I can't wait to show her what my life is like in North Carolina. I had the opportunity to visit her in New York City and it was one of my most favorite vacations. Now, when I talk to her on the phone, I have a visual of what her life is like. We have gone in such different paths since high school and college and it's amazing to see what the lives of people you are close with are like. I miss her and cannot wait to see her!
Other random thoughts- I am actually excited for Jessica Simpson's new show on VH1- I am fascinated by perceptions of beauty and think it will be very educational. Who would of thought? And, I really like Daughtry's new song. Especially the quote, "All that I'm after is a life full of laughter". Exactly! Can anyone guess what channel I'm watching right now?

Thanks for listening to me rant, everyone. Have a wonderful weekend!!
Goofing off with my NEW Mac!

Monday, February 22, 2010

~Go Hard or Go Home~

It's been a busy past couple weeks- I feel like I've been going, going and going, and haven't really had a moment to sit down and catch my breath. Weird thing is though, I really enjoy my life better that way. I may complain from time to time, but I do better when I'm extremely busy. I hate having idle time (ok, I wouldn't mind it for an hour a day so I could have some time to get my life organized, but that won't happen). The weekend before last, Ellen and I had yet another wonderful roadtrip- as mentioned earlier, we were headed to Daytona for some fun, relaxation, and of course, some Nascar. After quite the adventurous drive on the way down, including some unusual Southern snow up until we got to Georgia, we finally made it, and went straight to YaYa's ( the local bar we go to there - filled with all sorts of unusual people and karaoke every night). It was a great time as always. We went to bed fairly late, but I was proud for dragging myself out of bed for an oceanside jog the following morning. I could do that every single morning for the rest of my life. The sand was firm, the ocean was calm and beautiful, and hardly anyone was on the beach. My Ipod seemed to know where I was and put on the perfect soundtrack of Black Crowes and Susan Tedeschi. I was disappointed when my run was over but it was time to get our credentials and head to the track for some racing. We picked up our hot passes and then headed over to the track with Shawn. We wandered around for a little while- spotted Bruce Jennar, got to see Danica, ate some great food that Nascar prepares for it's employees, and then after about 50 laps were ready to head back. We went back to the beach house, took a nice nap, and prepared for another night out on the town. This one was a bit more wild than the previous night, and we finally shut it down around 4 or 5 AM. Amazingly, I pulled myself out of bed at 8 AM and was able to get in another nice 8 mile run along the ocean. The view provides some good motivation to get up! We then headed to the track again for the Sprint Cup race. It couldn't have gone more smoothly. Shawn was nice enough to give us his employee parking pass, so we didn't have to walk far and avoided the $60 parking. We didn't sit in any traffic and got right into the track. We had a great time, but unfortunately, due to some pop up potholes on the track, there was about a 2 hour delay during the race. It worked out well though because that allowed us to get some great driver sightings; we were back in the pits and that was where all the drivers hung out during the red flag, so I got to see all my favorite drivers! Aside from running along the ocean, that was probably the highlight of the trip. Around 5 pm they started the race back up, but after being there for 5 hours, the lack of sleep from the night before started to catch up with us and we decided to head back to the beach house. It worked out perfectly- 2 very nice, handsome guys in a golf cart offered to give us a ride to our cars, and with how exhausted we were and how badly our feet hurt, it was the perfect ending to a pretty perfect day! Not gonna lie, we felt pretty important zooming by on the golf cart past everyone walking. :) The guys ended up being from Fishers, Indiana and were down there for work- small world. We attempted to go out that evening but were pretty boring- we are definitely no longer in our college years, and after a long walk on the beach the next day, headed back to NC. All and all it was a great weekend- and I even left out some parts, such as the forest fire we had to drive through, the fight we were almost in at the bar, and a few other stories :) Thanks again for everything, SR!

My favorite driver- Kyle Busch!

Getting to the track!

Moving on, this past weekend I had my first race of the many I have signed up for this spring and summer. This was the HardCORE trail series, for the "serious trail runner". Love the motto on the shirt we got: "Go hard or go home". That's my life mantra! It was held at the US Whitewater Center and was an 8k. Christa and SR did it with me and it was so much fun. Five miles goes by a lot faster when you are climbing 1/2 mile hills, running in shrubs to try and get around people, slipping around in mud and hurdling giant roots. It was over before you knew it. The race was very well put on, aside from the start. We were kind of hanging around the back, not knowing the race was going to start, and without any warning, they started it. Now, I'm not this super amazing runner or anything, but my pace was quicker than the 100 or so people that were in front of us, so that made things interesting. SR probably could have won the race if we had started farther up. It is VERY difficult to pass people when the trails are only a few feet wide. My legs are pretty cut up from running off the trail to try and get past people for the first mile or so, but I loved every second of it. The cross country runner in me started to come out , and before I knew it, I was doing the instinctual harmless "elbowing" to try and get around people. Probably bad sportsmanship, but it was nothing aggressive, just little taps to try and get around people :). It really made me miss the days of XC. I ended up 21st out of 200, 4th female, and 1st in age group, and I believe my time was around 40:25. Not very fast, but I wasn't expecting much since it was more about not falling and spraining an ankle, and less about fast times. Might have been able to place higher if the start was a little more organized, but oh well! More than anything, it was just a fun Saturday workout around others who enjoy the same type of thing. SR had a great race and ended up 2nd. Christa, SR and I had a yummy post-race breakfast at Mimi's afterwords. It was a beautiful 60 degree day and all and all was just a lovely weekend. I didn't have to work either which made it even better. I had to work Sunday, but not until 3, so I took my road bike out for 28 miles to enjoy the weather. It was my first time on my bike since October! I know they say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I spent the whole ride getting the "feel" for my bike again, and made some dumb mistakes. The first time I needed to unclip I almost forgot how to do it! After a while, I felt my body start to mold to my bike again and it started to come back to me. I can't think of a better way to enjoy a sunny afternoon than to overlook the country in Davidson, listen to some awesome music, and push my body. It was great! Didn't do much socially this past weekend, but I needed some recovery "me" time after Daytona anyways. I live for weekends like this past one and that is exactly why I moved to North Carolina!

And lastly, I am happy to announce I am the proud owner of a Mac! After a lot of research and a lot of saving, I finally made my decision and went to the Apple store with my friend Jenny to make the purchase. I just have to say, the people in the Apple store are amazing! I had my heart set on spending about $500 more than I actually did; they actually discouraged me from all the upgrades I wanted as they were unnecessary for what I would be using the computer for. That NEVER happens! And, we were going to use Jenny's student discount to save me about $200. To do this, we were going to have to lie and say she was buying it for me, but those of you who know me best know I absolutely CANNOT lie or break the rules, and immediately started acting weird when we got in there. The girl who put together my order was very cool and said "You are just trying to use her discount, right? I don't care, that's fine!", and after catching me in my lie, put it in for me anyways. It was the most stress-free, easiest purchase I have ever made, and although I am still figuring my way around the world of Mac, I am in love with it and do not miss my PC at all. I HIGHLY recommend them. And go to the store- don't buy it online. They are very helpful and will answer all your questions. So now that I am once again in tune with the world of technology, hopefully I can update my blog more often to avoid novels like this one. Oh, and I finally have my Itunes back, so I feel whole again. Life was just not the same without my music!Thanks for stopping by and happy Monday!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gentlemen (and lady!), Start Your Engines!

It's been a long few weeks of work, work and more work, and working out. A vacation is much needed. I've really hit the ground running with my training, and am really enjoying it. Once I dedicate myself to something, it's all or nothing, so I've really been giving 110%. I had a very enjoyable 12 mile run this morning in the lovely 30 degree weather. I absolutely HATE waking up, but once I get my running shoes on, get my IPOD going, and head out the door, it is one of the most peaceful, serene times that I have. Just me and my thoughts. I actually get sad when the run is over, which is a little weird I guess. I'd say I did about 7:30-7:45 pace this morning, which isn't too fast, but given the fact that I am extremely sore from all my strength training and swimming, I was pleased. I also had a good 3 mile tempo run Tuesday where I held 6 minute pace, so I'm satisfied with how everything has gone this week. Enough about my training though, I know that's dry and boring.
Road trip to Indiana!

I am super excited for tomorrow. My good friend Ellen and I will be taking yet another road trip together- this time to Daytona. I have no doubt it will be a fabulous trip. No matter what we do, it is always a good time! Due to the generosity and hospitality of my good friend Shawn, we will yet again have our "hot passes" for the Daytona 500. Yes, I am going to ANOTHER Nascar race. Ever since moving down to the south, I have embraced my inner redneck and have to say, I really, truly enjoy the races. I will say, I am spoiled having the hot pass. I don't think I could watch the race from the stands. I just find it fascinating to be back there with the cars and in the middle of all the action (and extremely loud noises). It makes the 4 hours or so go by very fast. Ellen, my family and I had hot passes for the Brickyard 400 and had the time of our lives. My dad and brother still talk about how "awesome" it was. So, thank you SR for putting up with my redneckness and allowing me to experience Nascar once again:). I will be sure to take lots of pictures of all the action. Danica Patrick will be making her Nascar debut, and even though I find her a bit annoying, I am excited to witness a piece of history. I have a feeling she is going to make quite the statement on Saturday. She is a tough, strong woman who has something to prove, and I think she is going to show Nascar fans she is here to stay. And, let's not forget about the ocean!!! Something about the ocean, even if it will be cold there, brings me back to my center. The smell, the sound, the sand in your toes- there is no other place I feel quite at home like I do at the ocean. I am determined to live by the beach one day. I am closer in North Carolina than I was in Indiana (about 2 1/2 hours away), but somehow, it doesn't feel close enough. Can't wait to get down there!
At the Brickyard, where I met my "boyfriend" :)

Hopefully we will see this crew again!

Ellen and I being Nascar fans with a firstclass view!
Lastly, I have researched and researched computers, and have determined I will be getting a MacBook Pro very soon. I can't believe the response I had when asking whether to go Mac or PC...every single person said Mac. Wow! That's a true testament to the computer ,and although expensive, it sounds like it is well worth the investment. I have been without a computer ever since I was robbed in September, and cannot wait to be able to have one of my own again.

Well, this time tomorrow I will be hitting the road. Have a happy and safe weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Believe in Blue!

The Superbowl is quickly approaching, but it can't come fast enough. I absolutely cannot wait. And my mom called to tell me I can expect a package in the mail full of Colts gear to flaunt around Charlotte, which should arrive today. I just love that my mother still takes the time to send care packages to me. I know I'm 26 years old, but there's just something about getting a package in the mail from your parents that makes you feel like a kid again.

I can't believe it's been 3 years since we last won the Superbowl. It feels like just yesterday. I was talking about it on the phone with my mom the other day and the fond memories we have leading up to that game and after our victory. I feel so thankful to have witnessed a piece of Indianapolis history. I had moved home to Indiana right after college, and although I wasn't too happy about it at the time, in retrospect, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. You know the saying "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers"? I believe that 110%. I was so disappointed I didn't have a full-time job lined up right after college and had to move home with my parents. I was also embarrassed that I spent four years at college only to be living with my parents again. It was a blessing in disguise. In the 6 months that I lived at home, my world as I knew it would be turned upside down. I went through a very difficult breakup with someone I thought I would eventually move across the country to be with. So, there went my life plan. Literally one day after the breakup, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had absolutely no symptoms, but on a whim requested a colonoscopy and they discovered cancer. He immediately began chemotherapy and radiation treatment. So much happened at once that I literally just fell to the ground one day crying and couldn't pull myself up. A future that I had been planning with someone had disappeared, and I was all of a sudden faced with my father's mortality. You always view your parents as invincible, and to see them as a human being, sick, struggling, weak, at at times, in tears, is absolutely devastating. I feel like I am a pretty strong person emotionally, but I was broken. I don't think I ever even cried about it until one day after my dad was at the kitchen table eating breakfast, he looked up at me, worry in his eyes, and simply said, "I'm scared. I never thought I would be facing cancer". I ran upstairs and broke down. My dad is tough and is an incredible athlete, and to see him so weak and was extremely difficult. Looking back, I know I was depressed. I had trouble eating, sleeping, and I guess all and all was just in a very dark place. One I hope I never go back to. Honestly, watching the Colts was such a simple break from all of my emotions, it was one of the few things that I found myself looking forward to. The unrelenting faith the entire city had in the Colts was inspiring. I would sit with my parents and cheer them on, and it really brought us together.

The day of the Superbowl I decided I would spend it with my parents at our local country club. My dad was in the middle of his treatment so he was not feeling the greatest, and I just knew I really wanted to be with them. We got all decked out in blue, and as you can see in the photos, I even sported some hideous blue nail polish. Blue Shots!
The game seemed like a dream. Every touchdown we took these delicious blue shots (even though my dad wasn't supposed to be drinking). The country club was the perfect atmosphere- there was a great crowd, gourmet food, and shots served at every touchdown. As the clock ticked down to the end, the joy in the crowd was indescribable. The cheering could be heard out from the streets. There were fireworks and cars honking their horns the whole drive home. The pride felt in Indianapolis was something I had never experienced before, and it made me so grateful to actually be living in the city to witness it. They couldn't even keep Colts hats on the shelves. The city was BLUE. And it was awesome!

I guess what I'm trying to say is the Colts helped me climb out of a deep dark hole I was in, and see the light again. I think you have to go through times like that in your life because it is then you learn the most about yourself. When it is just you, your fears and your sadness, you really learn what makes you tick, what you want out of life, and just how much inner strength you really have. And if God had answered my prayers, I would have been across the country at a time that looking back, is a time I needed to be home. In those 6 months, I was able to get to know my parents as an adult, not as a child breaking all the rules, I was able to be with my father through his struggle with cancer, and I was able to be in Indianapolis at a time that is probably one of the most exciting times in the cities' history. I am so much closer with my parents because of that time spent at home. If I would have moved away, our relationship would probably be very different than it is today. To me, that Superbowl was not just a game; it was much, much more than that. And I am happy to say as this game approaches, I am in a much better place in my life, and no longer have that dark veil over my eyes. And, my father is now nearly 3 years free of cancer, and is now ranked number one in the state for 50 and over tennis. It's amazing how much your life can do a 180 in 3 short years.

Mom and I after the game. Notice the great Tony Dungy
in the background :)

Here's to the Colts bringing home ANOTHER Superbowl to Indianapolis. Let's go Horse!

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