Thursday, September 30, 2010

icing it up

My knee hurts.

I've scaled back on the running the last week and a half. Today I did a five-mile run, and I made it through but my knee is achy and tight. Tight like I wish someone would just pop it back into place.

Based on my research, I've self-diagnosed an IT band strain. This is where it hurts:

 Iliotibal band syndrome (ITBS) occurs when the IT band, which runs from the buttocks down and across the knee becomes tight and inflamed. Overpronation and bow-leggedness can also contribute. If caught early, you can recover in one to four weeks. Take anti-inflammatories one to two hours prerun, and stretch and ice postrun, says Irene Davis, Ph.D., P.T., of the University of Delaware. Reduce mileage, hills, and intensity. When you run on a track, rotate laps (1 mile clockwise, 1 mile counterclockwise). Tape your arches or wear orthotics. (Runners World)

 {Post five mile run. Ouch}

Other articles helped me trace the injury back to my treadmill sprints last week though it's been a long time coming with some aching in my hamstring and glutes. So I'm icing, and then this weekend I'll attempt my last long run. I'm putting my full marathon decision on hold to see how the creaky knee holds up.

Come on, knee. I just need 15 more days from you. Then I promise you can spend your weekend mornings lounging on the couch, drinking coffee and gorging on French toast.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

faith without knowledge?

Turns out atheists in America know more about religion than those of us who believe in God.

We talk so much about faith being dead without works so we do a lot of community service and make casseroles for our church friends. Which is good. But what about knowledge? Faith without a foundation of knowledge is surely dead as well.

According to the survey results:

  • 45 percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ. 
  • 53 percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation.
  • 55 percent know the Golden Rule is NOT one of the Ten Commandments
  • 52 percent knew Ramadan is the Islamic holy month.
I want to know about my own religion so I know that my faith is grounded in historical accounts and a foundation of fact. I want to know about other religions because not only is it interesting but it strengthens my own faith in knowing why I believe this instead of that.

How much do you know?
Test your knowledge here: U.S. Religion Knowledge Survey.

Monday, September 27, 2010

missing: motivation

"Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?' The answer is usually yes." -Paul Tergat, Kenyan marathoner

Only 18 days til my first half marathon, and I have ZERO motivation. I cannot even express to you the poorness of this timing.

Last Thursday I ran intervals on the treadmill. I ran fast and loved it but did not love the fact the treadmill makes my knees hurt. And my left knee has felt jammed since then. Plus I haven't been drinking water, and I've had some wicked womanly symptoms. We had a busy, cold and rainy weekend so my only time to do my long run was Sunday night after a long weekend. I skipped it and watched three episodes of Dexter.

Now the weather is just awkward. It can't decide between tank top and shorts or a running jacket and tights. Tomorrow I'm headed to the running store for some new fall running clothes in hopes of reigniting my love. Then I'm going to find some new routes because if I have to keep running past people sitting on patios eating their delicious-smelling food, I will cry.

It's only 18 days. That's less than three weeks. I can do anything if it's temporary.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

angry clouds and some pumpkin gelato

As we were going out the door to the game Saturday, we considered whether or not to bring the ponchos. "It's only a 30 percent chance of rain. There's a better chance of it not raining," my mom said. We brought them anyway, which turned out to be wise because eight plays into the game, this happened.

It's for real. Birds were flying in circles. The lightning got an "ahh" from the crowd and eventually caused a 1.5 hour delay of game. Fans were asked to leave the stadium and seek shelter. Considering our shelter was one mile away at my parent's house, we stood around watching the mass exodus. Finally the announcement came that we could take cover in the adjacent basketball stadium.

We arrived just as the downpour began to find the court full of kids shooting baskets and posing for pictures. We waited. And waited. And waited. Until finally we were allowed to go back to our seats and sit in the cold rain. Lucky us. Thus proceeded the longest, most boring game of my life full of play challenges, TV timeouts and an over zealous girl behind me who cheered, "go offense" or "go defense." I guess at least she knew which was which.

The last 27 seconds made up for the five hours of boredom. Sorta. I guess. But my family does NOT leave football games early. We rewarded ourselves with Chinese food, brownies and a movie. (Sidenote: Every time Shea says "mmm brownies sound good right now," my mom makes them for him! I never remember this kind of service when I was a child. This makes me mad and also proves it was probably good I was an only child.)

Sunday we spent the day at the Plaza Art Fair with my adopted extended family who I love and adore. 

That's them enjoying the art from the curb. My whole goal was not to buy art but to find pumpkin spice gelato. Mission accomplished.

Weekends like this make me grateful from head to toe that we now live close to the people I love most.

Friday, September 24, 2010

celebrating punctuation

One of my favorite classes in college was Editing and Design 1 - otherwise known as a whole lot of grammar, punctuation and sentence diagramming. I couldn't let this day pass without a little celebration.
Take a quiz 
It's hard. Though I am all over the interrobang.

Some blogs for the grammar and punctuation elites
Literally, A Weblog

And finally, my favorite quotes from Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
 "In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is the daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practices the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets over-excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly."

"The rule is: don’t use commas like a stupid person. I mean it." 

"I recently heard of someone studying the ellipsis (or three dots) for a PhD. And, I have to say, I was horrified. The ellipsis is the black hole of the punctuation universe, surely, into which no right-minded person would willingly be sucked, for three years, with no guarantee of a job at the end. "

"The rule is: the word 'it's' (with apostrophe) stands for 'it is' or 'it has'. If the word does not stand for 'it is' or 'it has' then what you require is 'its'. This is extremely easy to grasp. Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, 'Good food at it's best', you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave."  

Have a happy, mistake-free day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

love, sacrifice and cough drops

{They were happier than they look. Promise.}

One of my favorite stories my mom tells is about sacrifice and cough drops.

They both moved away from their families in Illinois, where they met in college, to pursue a new life together. They earned master's degrees at University of Kentucky. My mom then worked to put my dad through the rest of his degree and eventually a PhD. There was no extra money, and sometimes not enough. They did their grocery shopping at different stores, referring to a master list of food prices and sales to maximize their grocery budget. She made cookies for a special treat but crackers, chips and pop never made it on the list.

One time they were running to catch the bus, and my dad dropped a handful of cough drops. Realizing later the drops were gone, they went back that night in the dark to pick them out of the snow. Because buying more cough drops would be expensive and unnecessary.

When my mom got pregnant, she worked up until the day she started having contractions. In fact while in labor she was shopping for new glasses for my dad. She nursed as long as she could and used cloth diapers. Soon they moved to Michigan and lived in a rented house my mom hated. (Considering you could lay on my closet floor and look through a hole into the basement, who can blame her?)

My dad continued in his post-doc, and my mom worked in the soils lab. It wasn't until they moved to Kansas before the start of my kindergarten year that my dad got his first professor job, and my mom eventually went back to teaching. This was also the first time they bought a house - more than 10 years after they were married.

Sometimes I think my generation - Shea and I included - didn't learn about sacrifice. So many people we know have fallen into this pattern of graduating from college, getting married, buying a house, buying a bigger house, getting a new car every couple of years, and it goes on and on. We'd rather be comfortable and impressive but consequently, in debt.

One of my very best friends is giving up her career dream, at least for now, to support her husband's. It's not always easy, and lately never easy. There isn't enough money, and the days of waiting for a job, a real estate miracle and new baby are full of worry. Shea and I aren't picking up cough drops in the snow, and we lead a very rich life compared to many. However we are trying to sacrifice so that our money goes toward paying down student loans rather than payments for a house we don't need. I don't love our apartment but I do love the stories we'll have about our crazy neighbors. (Seriously. Crazy.) We know someday we'll be debt-free and comfortable but only if we sacrifice and live a little uncomfortably now.

As for my parents, after years of sacrifice and discipline? They have more than enough money to buy extra cough drops.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the most helpful websites

Awesome reviews of hotels, attractions and tours. My favorite feature, though, are the forums where you can find really specific advice and stories down to which bug spray to buy if you're staying in a cabana in the middle of the Belizean jungle. (To the family reading this: We're totally staying in American-style resorts with sterilized water and no-bug/snake/alligator bubbles around them)

OK, it's actually a Bing site now but I refuse to conform to that nonsense. It's a regular old flight price search, but it's best feature tells you whether you should wait to buy or if fares will be going up soon and you should book it now. Handy.Or just buy your flights on Wednesdays. It's the cheapest; fun fact.

Daily Mile
Easy way to track my mileage and other workouts, and then send them directly to Twitter so I can be showered with awe and praise. The map works well to figure what distance I ran and calculates my pace, calories burned and how lame I am compared to everyone else running in KC. Tip: If your time sucked, then just put your impressive mileage and leave time blank. They'll never know.

Calorie Count
I don't use this much because I'm not counting calories at the moment. But when I feel like I've gotten into a gorge-myself-silly mode, I use the tracker to get myself in line. Seems to be the best I have found because it has all the foods and brands I normally eat.

Google Documents
Maybe not really a website per se... but I've used it for work task lists, project plans, wedding guests list, thank you note tracking, Christmas lists and budgeting. It comes in at a close second to my love of Google calendars.

We love it! I never go to the dentist, eat at a restaurant, shop or subscribe to a service without checking for local reviews. Plus it's a great way to get back at a business who treats you like garbage when using your free massage coupon.

Never buy online without visiting this site! There are others, but this one seems to be the most up to date with coupon codes, discounts and sales. I rarely buy something without finding at least a 10-percent off coupon, which is good because I'm cheap.

Which websites make your life easier? Share the love!

Monday, September 20, 2010

painful high

I've finally got a runner's high.

The long runs I've finished have left me hating running in the last mile - calves on fire, stomach souring and trying not to quit by falling into a tear-filled heap. But this one was different. I felt good from the start. I got faster in the second half of my run. I didn't walk except by choice so I could chug my Gatorade and water.

I got done with 12.5 miles and felt fantastic. Like I was a real runner. I finally have no doubt that the 13.1 miles I will face in three weeks are possible. That maybe I could even do more...

I showered super fast (Vikings kickoff and an impatient husband awaited), pulled on my new favorite compression sleeves and ate my peanut butter sandwich with chocolate milk.

Now it hurts. My hips, thighs, groin, butt and lower back are on fire though not as bad as when I got into bed last night, cringing. I'm trying to stop myself from eating everything in sight.

But the pain feels good. I earned it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

love with no reward

I'm reading Crazy Love with my favorite friend Edie, who is unfortunately in Dallas and not near me. Lately this passage has been laying heavy on my heart.
"Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them."
Probably because it describes me all too well. It's so easy for me to love my friends. My parents. My husband. Even my neighbors and coworkers. My love overflows, and I try to show it.

But for the people that have slighted me? The ones who have hurt me deeply and intentionally? The people who never even gave me a chance or make my life a bit more uncomfortable than I would like? Or just the ones who don't meet my deadlines at work? My love fails. Miserably.

Sometimes I try to act out of love even when I don't feel it. Sometimes I crawl into a safe place within myself and don't even try. I certainly can't change my heart overnight but the one thing I can do immediately is realize that my actions toward others are between me and God. Not between me and them. And me treating them with love is an act of obedience to a God that commands me to act like Jesus.

I'll keep praying that my heart follows my brain. When I disobey daily, I am thankful for His overflowing grace.

Friday, September 17, 2010

fall cooking desires

When the seasons start to change, I get this strong urge to cook. Despite what the calendar says, it's still in the upper 80s so my soups and chilis might have to wait. That won't stop me from scheduling my favorite fall recipes a month out.

For a chilly or rainy day, this is a great one.

Five Hour Stew 
1 1/2 pounds chuck roast (or whatever is on sale), cut in bite size chunks
1 cup chunked celery
4 carrots, chunked
2 to 3 medium potatoes, chunked
1 onion sliced
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 20 oz. can tomatoes, diced works nice
1 T salt
2 T sugar
3 T minute tapioca
2 or 3 generous splashes of worcestershire sauce
Sprinkle of oregano (optional, but why not)

Do not brown the meat.  Mix all the above ingredients in a baking dish with a tight fitting lid, or cover securely with aluminum foil.  Bake in a 250 degree oven for 5 to 6 hours.  Do not try to hurry this stew.  The slow oven is the key to its success. Yield:  6 Servings

Other favorites
Breakfast apple granola
Cheeseburger soup
Swedish meatballs
Pumpkin muffins
Apple crisp

What are your favorite fall recipes? Share please!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the best grocery news ever

It's the news I've been waiting for - Trader Joe's lands in Kansas City! I got a text this morning announcing the news that has made this migraine-filled day one of rejoicing. And the best part is I'm shopping there this weekend in Minnesota only increasing the anticipation for one just a few miles down the parkway in 2011.

My very favorite TJ product is the tomato and roasted pepper soup.

Then the different rice and noodle mixes.

But I can't pass up the raw nuts, low-fat cheeses, ranch and parmesan dressing, greek yogurt, wheat pizza dough, hummus, and of course cheap, cheap wine.

Plus, I've never had a bad customer service experience even when the line to check out at the store near my Minneapolis apartment was at least 10 people deep.

What's your favorite TJ product?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

how to not stink when you have no shower

Sometimes I really hate running. When I did my long run Sunday, it took me a good three hours of watching a crappy Jennifer Aniston movie, sipping water, cleaning out the fridge and whatever non-priority task I could think up before I finally got around to fill my water bottles, put on my running shoes and start the 11.5-mile trek.

However, I found such a love for running during my lunch hour. Because summer is slipping away and the dark mornings have arrived, noon running is my best option. Dragging myself for five miles when I first got out of bed was so much harder than this! I love breaking up the work day and having time away from my computer to just think. 

The challenge however is the whole sweating for an hour only to sit at my desk for another four while still maintaining work friends. So I created a little shower kit for my bottom drawer.
First, unscented baby wipes. The problem is I keep sweating despite being wiped off so I'm adding a towel to the mix. There are expensive shower wipes you can buy but these are the same thing and cheap!

Next, baby deodorant. Obvious reasons.

Then, Passion for Change body mist. Because it makes me smell pretty in case the first two fail.

Finally, hair brush so I can wet down my hair and put it up into a bun to hide the sweaty tangles. It works out pretty well. My face is definitely beet red and totally makeup less but I think it's good to keep my vanity in check. 

31 days!

Monday, September 13, 2010

catching up

Wow, I'm behind. My apologies for such a lazy blog lately. To get myself back on track, here's some updates.

K-State games
We've been busy traveling to Manhattan for the K-State football games. First it was Purple Power Play on Poyntz which is a gigantic pep rally with purple fireworks. My t-shirt is from the Kickoff Club in 1994. I take great pride that I can still wear a 16-year-old shirt. Benefit of the midget life.

Then we had the game, which was hot and super fun. We tailgated the first game with pulled pork and brisket. The second game this weekend was bison burgers. Love me some Kansas food.

I have had a lot of them and am eating Imitrex like candy. The long runs do it to me. Plus allergies, a tense neck and shoulder area and hormones. It hurts and makes me way less fun to be around. Though Mac the dog sympathizes.

We're done with it now. For four short lessons, we're pretty good I must say. Unfortunately the club we've been going to charges $1,900 for a six-month program. Despite a very aggressive sales pitch that left me wanting to curl up in a ball and cry, we cannot afford such an outrageous hobby, at least here. But the four times we got to go, I LOVED it. So maybe someday when we plant a money-growing tree, we'll invest.

My mileage reached 27 last week with a long run of 11.5. I don't know if it was the heat or my general lack of mental toughness or the fact that when I ended my run it was 82 degrees but my body was SORE. My poor little legs still are aching today. Only 32 days left. This weekend I get to run 11 miles around my beloved Minnesota lakes.

We got the sad news Saturday night that a family from my parent's church lost their son in the Megabus accident in upstate New York. Kevin, an Eagle Scout and Temple University student, was only 19. It's a tragic reminder of how fragile life really is and one that's been weighing heavily on my heart this weekend. I hope that you'll pray with me that Kevin's family finds peace that transcends understanding in such a horrific chapter in their lives.

Friday, September 10, 2010

the pace of my life

I've meaning to post pictures from my great Labor Day weekend. And the pictures of the parakeet that now resides next to my work computer. I've also been meaning to vacuum our carpet, take Ink to the vet, work on a proposal for my class, paint my toenails and read The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Instead, the current pace of our life isn't allowing for much of that. (In addition to the fact I cannot remember to ever bring my camera cord to work.) I get up to run at 5:30 a.m. and collapse into bed at 11 p.m. On Monday and Tuesday nights we go to small group. Wednesdays we have class.

Thursdays we've had dance lessons though last night we watched the Vikings game complete with purple cupcakes, stuffed mushrooms, veggies, raspberry chipotle dip and buffalo wings. Tonight we have dance and tomorrow it's K-State game weekend #2 and an 11-miler.

On top of that, I have a big project at work that is making my once boring days a distant memory. Plus, there's the parakeet I have to whistle at every 10 minutes.

So the lack of blogging is more the lack of available breathing room in my life rather than lack of material. I'm loving this time in our lives. But the small things seem to get lost, and I begin to notice the half-mile where the speed limit decreases to 25 mph on my work route is a welcome slow-down.  (Have I told you how the cops gun people and then walk out into traffic and hold up a hand to pull them over? Because I should.)

Things I have accomplished in spite of the crazy:

  • Picked and ordered our wedding pictures. Only one year later...
  • Bought necessary items for shower-less shower kit at work for lunch-time runs.
  • Bought wedding, birthday and thank you cards for September events
  • Ran two 5-milers with two more runs to come before the week's end.
  • Made enough meals with Shea's help that we avoided eating dinners out.
We did manage to try Yogurtini  last weekend. Hopefully you have one in your city and can go there. Because it's awesome. Last weekend pictures to come later today after I've worked, ran, danced and eaten. Basic needs first, people.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

38 days and counting

The half marathon is in less than six weeks - a realization that made the fact I slept in instead of running much more guilt-filled. I've done great with my long runs, not so great during the week. My intention of running four days at a minimum for the shorter runs has turned to three. Still, I've managed to keep my long runs on track.

During a happy hour yesterday, I discussed with a fellow runner friend the possibility of continuing to train for a full. Then I saw that that would mean in about two months I'd have to run a week of 5-10-5-20 miles. The prospect of that week alone is enough to make me reconsider. Plus I think my body would hurt all the time.

Goals for the rest of my training
1. Actually follow my training plan and stop with the sleeping in and rainy day excuses.
2. Get back into the habit of more conscious healthy eating. More protein and water, less sugar.
3. Run faster on shorter runs. 10-minute miles are for long runs, not being lazy on weekdays.
4. Figure out ways to run during lunch or after work at least some days to avoid dark streets.
5. Entice Shea to rub my feet and calves more often.


Friday, September 3, 2010

random friday: tears and drooling

I'm having a very happy Friday mostly fueled by the knowledge three days of fun are ahead.

I started my day watching this video via A Cup of Jo. And then cried at my desk.

But then it got better because I read this article about how Manhattan, Kan. is a tough atmosphere for opposing football teams. And it made me excited especially considering the weather is supposed to be picture perfect for both my 10-miler and then the game.

And I read this blog post from Paris Pastry with fantastic pictures of yummy treats, which is quite unfortunate for me considering I've sworn off desserts until after the half-marathon leaving me to drool at my desk. (Small caveat:  I am allowed to eat my wedding cake topper with Shea and parents this weekend.)

You should try this super delicious barley salad.

It's been a good week in my world, I hope the same is true of you! We're super busy and getting busier everyday, but I routinely reminded I'm happy to be exactly where I am. It's a good feeling.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

purple pride

In the fall, my family goes to football games with as much purple on as possible. Birthday parties, picnics, and yes even weddings were scheduled only on away game Saturdays. Why did Shea and I get married in August and not September? Football.

We traveled to bowl games complete with car flags and magnets. And apparently really untamed, teen aged hair which a few days later I died purple. Good golly somebody give me some hair gel and a flat iron.

We live about a mile from the stadium. My fall memories are filled with tailgating, hot dogs, walking to games and screaming or crying at the top of my lungs. We sweat it out during 100-degree home openers. Sat for four hours during a downpour refusing to leave before "happy trails to you" was sung. Froze to death - only surviving by drinking hot chocolate - through four long quarters.

We been through embarrassing losing seasons where beating Bowling Green was a triumph and seasons where they announced "welcome to the field, your NUMBER-ONE RANKED WILDCATS." It still gives me chills. I cried happy tears when we beat Nebraska for the first time in 40 years and cried tears of misery when we gave up the Big 12 Championship in the final seconds.

Growing up in a college town is just different. The heartbeat of your town, the color of its people (purple), the specials on the menus, the street festival pep rallies and the common bond rises and falls with your team. And if you dare suggest you're not a fan when they lose, we'll hurl all the bandwagon insults we can muster.

I haven't had season tickets since early college (due to my Minnesota residency) after a 15-year streak. But, we're back.

Tomorrow we'll arrive just in time for the huge pep rally in the middle of downtown followed by predominantly purple fireworks. Then it's a Saturday of tailgating and four glorious hours of K-State football with seats next to my equally purple-crazed parents.

My dad will have his headphones on listening to the radio while watching the game and of course yelling advice to players. My mom will smile and roll her eyes but with unfailing dedication will recite all the cheers. I'm a combination of the both of them minus the headphones but complete with "GAAAH" and "YESSS" screams. Shea will probably tell me who is going to be drafted or why we need a playoff system, and I will have to explain once again, that's not what college football is about.

It's about a town coming together every fall. Always in purple.

Previous purple love: Bleeding purple since kindergarten

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

damned either way

While Shea was busy making us rich in St. Louis, I watched "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" based on the book by David Foster Wallace. And this quote stuck out about understanding women:
"My position is that actually most of the time you can figure out what they want, I mean, logically deduce it, if you're willing to make the effort to understand them and to understand the impossible situation they're in. 
Schizophrenic media discourse, exemplified by, like, for example, Cosmo. On one hand, get liberated. On the other hand, make sure you find a husband. Who wouldn't be nuts with that mess laid on them all the time in today's media culture? 
The most important thing is to understand her, understand the paradox.  Damned either way."
It is a messy paradox that extends far beyond Cosmo magazine. When we were in high school, it was the girls who were putting the names of football players on the back of their "Senior Women" sweatshirts so that they, as "little sisters," could bake them cookies before every game. (note: I had no part in this nonsense.) At the same time their teachers were telling them they could shatter the glass ceilings they would no doubt encounter.

Now, there's the urge to be career-driven and competitive and not subject to some man for purpose or direction - especially when there's talk of that icky submission word. On the opposite end, there's the inherent desire to have children, be vulnerable and let the man lead in a relationship.

I do believe in letting a man lead and submitting - I think it's the way God made us. (Go ahead and throw your feminist spitwads at me.) But there's a huge part of me that feels resentful that most likely there will come a day when I have to choose between my career and my kids knowing that that day will never come for Shea. Though, he has the burden of being the financial provider, an instinct most women lack. Sometimes I put on makeup not because I want to or think I need it but because society tells me everyone will feel bad for my husband who has a wife that doesn't care about her appearance anymore. I give in.

However, I wonder if in today's world, the pressure to choose a female role actually comes from fellow females rather than males. I recoil when I have to explain why I think women and men actually are made differently. Why I don't push back when told women should be godly, faithful, gentle, self-controlled and loving rather than pushy, dominant, self-seeking and loud.

It's actually other women's judgments that scare me the most.

We judge the women who stay home from their jobs, cook dinner every night and just play mom. "Aren't they bored? Don't they lack purpose? Clearly, they had no motivation. She obviously can't stand up to her husband." 

We judge the women who are career driven and less family orientated. "She probably doesn't even know her kids. How selfish and arrogant."

Damned either way, indeed.