Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Double the reading recaps!

Yup. I disappeared for a month.

Let's just say when you're working long hours to make up for missed time at work for chiropractor appointments, coming home at night and sitting in front of a computer to blog isn't on the top of my list of things I want to do.

So I didn't.

Which means you get a double dose of a reading recap today. Go grab yourself a drink, because this is going to be long.

I read 13 books in May and June. I finished six in May and seven in June. I read 2,633 pages in May and 2,266 pages in June. That brings the yearly total to 40 books and 14,470 pages. Remember, I'm aiming for 77 books for the year and after six months, I've read 51.9 percent of my goal. I'd say I'm on track.

So what'd I read?

May
Inferno by Dan Brown
Love in the Time of Algorithms: How Online Dating Shapes Our Relationships by Dan Slater
Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
The Selection by Kiera Cass
June
The Elite by Kiera Cass
The One by Kiera Cass
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
High Five by  Janet Evanovich
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Where You Are by Tammara Webber

And now for the brief reviews, complete with number of stars given out on GoodReads. Follow me here if you’d like a more timely update on what I’m reading, what I think and what’s been added to my to-read list.

Inferno by Dan Brown  ****
Dan Brown puts lots of twists and turns into his stuff, so even when you think you know what's happening, you get surprised. The end did drag a little bit.

Love in the Time of Algorithms by Dan Slater  **
It's about online dating. Parts were interesting, parts were just boring. Jumped around a lot.

Two for the Dough and Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich  ***
These are just good summer reads. A few parts had me chuckling out loud.

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin  *****
Game of Thrones. I love these.

The Selection and The Elite by Kiera Cass  ****
These were a re-read in preparation for the final installment.

The One by Kiera Cass  ****
Nice way to wrap up the series.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson  **
I'd heard mixed reviews about this one. Once I started reading it, I almost quit. But I didn't because I had a policy where I don't give up. It had potential, but it got confusing at times skipping around to the different versions of Ursala. Just didn't enjoy it much.

Four to Score and High Five by Janet Evanovich  ****
Still like these

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent  ***
Interesting read. A decent story about an Icelandic woman sentenced to die and her last days. Dragged a bit in the beginning, but it picked up over the second half.

Where You Are by Tammara Webber  ***
Eh, it was OK. I didn't have high expectations. I generally don't have a problem with YA, but this was really young adult-y in my taste.

And there we go. I've caught you up on my reading progress. I have no worries about finding stuff to read right now. In true library fashion, about a million holds came in all at once, so I've got quite the stack sitting on my table. And that doesn't even include all the unread goodies that are sitting on my Kindle. So many books. So little time.

What are you reading?


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Three letters: DNS

DNS.

As in, did not start.

That's all you really need to know about the Green Bay Half Marathon. But of course I'll tell you more.

Sunday I was supposed to toe the starting line for my fourth Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon. It's quickly become my favorite spring half marathon. I mean, who can argue with a race that finishes with a lap around Lambeau Field? After a lackluster spring training cycle - one with a few too many missed long runs and the cruddy weather - I knew I was prepared to "race" the 13.1 miles. But I knew I could finish it. So my goal was merely to go out, cover the distance and have a good time.

I never even got to the starting line.

Saturday I was in my car heading up to Green Bay to wander the expo, pick up my race packet, drive the new course and then meet up with friends for a pre-race dinner. I was driving. I hadn't even gotten 5 miles from my parents' house when it happened.

BAM!

I found myself in a car accident. Long story short, I was driving (and had the right-of-way) when another driver pulled out from a stop sign and turned in front of me, hitting my car in the process.


So instead of heading up to Green Bay, I watched my little blue Focus get loaded up on a tow truck and hauled away. And I was left pretty sore and stiff in my back, neck and chest. Obviously in no condition to run 13.1 miles the next morning.

I pulled the DNS. It's only the second time I've ever done it (the other was Thanksgiving 2010 when it was pouring rain and I didn't want to get sick 2 weeks before Rock n Roll Las Vegas). And I'm not going to lie, it was hard seeing all the happy Tweets, Instagrams and Facebook posts of happy runners after Green Bay. Still stings a bit.

But I'll be back in 2015 for a lap around Lambeau. And if anything, it should give me the kick in the butt I need to have a decent training cycle for my fall races. No faking it for me this fall.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

April reading recap

One-third of the year is done. That's kind of crazy.

The weather remained pretty cruddy in April. Cold. Windy. An entire weekend where it was a monsoon. Perfect reading weather. Which would be great if I could come here and tell you about the amazing books I read last month.

Except my April reading books? Kind of eh. Nothing spectacular.

I did finish seven books last month for a total of 2,334 pages. That brings the yearly total to 27 books and 9,571 pages. Remember my goal is 77 books this year, so with 27 done, I'm at 35 percent, which is ahead of schedule. Yay!

So what'd I read?

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
The Ex-Debutante by Linda Francis Lee
Defending Jacob by William Landay
William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher
Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo
Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

I guess you could say it was also the month of extremely long titles.

And now for the brief reviews, complete with number of stars given out on GoodReads. Follow me here if you’d like a more timely update on what I’m reading, what I think and what’s been added to my to-read list.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand  ****
This has been made into a movie and World War II history has always been pretty interesting. Plus I'd been hearing rave reviews about the book. So I picked it up. Not going to lie, there was some heavy stuff in this book, but it was a fascinating read.

The Ex-Debutante by Linda Francis Lee  ***
It was a fluffy piece of chick lit. A former debutante comes back home for family reasons and ends up organizing the debutante ball. And of course there's a love story involved too.

Defending Jacob by William Landay  ***
I read a lot of legal thrillers, which isn't surprising since I write about crime for my day job. This one? Not my favorite. A prosecutor finds himself seated at the other table when his son is charged with murder. Like I said, not my favorite. It was OK though.

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher  ****
You really can't go wrong with hearing words of wisdom from Yoda in the style of Shakespeare. Seriously, this book and the first book (Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope) are pretty fantastic.

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo  ***
I think this is the first book in a long time that I didn't write a short sentence or two on GoodReads about what I thought. It was kind of preachy. Kind of unbelievable. And just a bit too much religion for me. Another one that was made into a movie. I will not be watching it.

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand  ***
I didn't have high expectations for this, I think I picked it up off the new release shelf at the library. But it was fluffy chick lit, which is exactly what I was looking for. Would make a good beach or vacation read.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin  ***
I liked parts of this, but then there were other parts that I completely lost interest. In my opinion, there were sections where she quoted too many blog comments from the blog she was writing during this year, but I guess it's her book, she can do what she wants. By the end of it, I was doing a lot of skimming.

So what'd you read last month? Any suggestions?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remembering Boston

One year.

It doesn't seem like that long ago. But it was.

Like many others, I paused today at 1:49 p.m. central time. I stopped working. Paused the iPod. I just sat there and thought of Boston, what damage those bombs inflicted. But also the strength the injured showed as they overcame their injuries. They really are #BostonStrong.

And tonight, when the work day was done, I headed out for my run. It was a speed work night, a night I typically cut the cool down short. But tonight, I ran. I ran every single mile and minute that my training plan called for, because tonight I ran for Boston.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Half Marathons from the sidelines

Today was the Oshkosh Half Marathon.

I've done the half marathon twice and the 5K three or four times. But this year I didn't pin on a number. Instead, I watched from the sidelines and covered it for work.

The weekend didn't start out very promising. It poured all day on Saturday. As in 3 inches of rain that left some streets in Oshkosh flooded. And the forecast called for more heavy rain today. And while I know Mother Nature doesn't care (hello, remember the winter we had), I said a little prayer, asking for the rain to stop just for a few hours (ideally between 6 and 11 a.m.) today.

Mother Nature apparently listened. It was cloudy and cool, but there was no rain this morning. Actually, it was pretty perfect weather for running. Sadly, by the time I got my story and video done, the radar was starting to look pretty green and I knew there was no way I'd get all 8 miles I had to run done before the next downpour.

So I had to head over to the YMCA treadmill. It was definitely a rough run. I seriously wanted to quit after 3 miles. Then 4 miles. But I kept running and finally talked myself into gutting it out. I'm not going to lie. The last 2 miles were tough and there may have been a few short breaks, but the 8 miles got done.

Oh, and for anyone who cares, this is the story I wrote and the video I put together for the Oshkosh Half.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Keep the feet happy

Let's talk about shoes for a few minutes.

For the last four years, my feet have been happiest running when there's a pair of Brooks Ghosts involved. I've been through quite a few pair - three pairs of the orange/silver combo, a pair of magenta-y pink/silver combo and two pairs of these teal/silver combos. Yes, the colors haven't been amazing, but my feet have been happy.

I did try to go the minimalist route once. I snagged a pair of Brooks Pure Flows and took them on a 3 mile run. My feet didn't hate them, but that was right when I came down with the really, really nasty IT band issue. And while it probably wasn't due to that 3 mile run, I just couldn't try running in them again.

So it was back to the Ghosts. And my feet - and IT band - have been happy.

But when it came time this spring to get a new pair of shoes, I decided I'd go to Fleet Feet and have an analysis done on my feet, just in case. I mean, it had been like 4 years since I had one done. Plus I'd heard rumblings from other runners with Brooks-loving feet whose feet haven't been as happy with some of the newer models.

That scared me.

So last weekend I went in. I waited my turn and finally it was time to get my feet analyzed. There's no change. I'm still a runner who needs a neutral shoe.

So the clerk goes into the back and brings me out three pairs of shoes to try. She brought the Ghosts just so I could try them. I'm not going to lie. My feet were happy. And it was a pretty snazzy color combo. She brought some Nikes (I'm not sure what model, I forget) and I absolutely hated them.

Then she brought the Mizuno Wave Sayonara.

These things looked like Easter eggs. Talk about fun colors. And when I tried them on, my feet didn't hate them. So I took them for a spin on the sidewalk outside the store. They weren't bad. A little different feeling, but my feet and legs kind of liked them.

So as much as I didn't want to end my relationship with the Ghosts, after a lot of thought and lots of trips up and down the sidewalk, I decided to go with the Mizunos.

Tonight was my first run in the Mizunos. I'm not going to lie. I was a little nervous. And apparently I had a right to be.

Not even a mile into my run I had to stop, sit down on the curb and retie my shoes. My feet were screaming at me. I don't know if I had the shoes tied too tightly or if my feet just don't like the shoes. I finished up my 3 miles (I had originally wanted to do 4 or 5, but I thought I better stop early given the shoe issue) and I came home.

It was frustrating. On Saturday when I went shoe shopping, my feet didn't seem to mind the Mizunos. I thought they even liked them. Tonight? Oh boy. They were not happy.

I heard from someone they didn't like the Mizunos initially either, but after they broke them in, they fell in love. So I guess I'll keep trying some shorter runs with them. But there's also a part of me that's 90 percent certain I might be making another shoe purchase in the very near future and I might be coming home with the old reliable Ghosts.

My feet might thank me.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Final Four Day!

 Hoping Frank "The Tank" Kaminsky and the rest of the Badgers can cut down some more nets. Source: AP

Guys! It's Final Four Day!

In a matter of hours, my eyes will be glued to a television, watching the Badgers take on Kentucky in the Final Four. If you've been , who around this blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love my Badgers. I was seriously pacing in circles around the living room during the final minute of that Regional Final against Arizona last weekend.

So tonight I'll be heading down to Milwaukee to watch the game with Renee, who has said we match each other in insanity when it comes to our Badgers. It will be fun.

Today also makes me think back to the last time the Badgers played in the Final Four. It was my sophomore year in college and Wisconsin took on that underdog role, battling as an eight seed in the West Region, knocking off No. 1 Arizona and No. 4 LSU before beating Purdue to win the West Region.

That was a fun team to watch. Jon Bryant got hot beyond the arc. Andy Kowske in the post. Kirk Penney and his adorable accent. And don't forget Mike Kelley. Oh, Mike Kelley. Yes, he was my Badger crush. Not a player to put up a ton of points, but defensively? He was a beast.

Mike Kelley and Coach Dick Bennett. (Source: Journal Sentinel)

Some friends and I gathered in my dorm room to watch Wisconsin take on Michigan State (anyone else remember the 19-17 halftime score?).  Sadly, I don't remember much of the actual game. I was battling mono and ended up sleeping through half of the game. Sad. And then Wisconsin lost to the Spartans. Double sad.

But since I was well rested (well, as rested as someone battling mono can feel), my friends and I trudged down to Camp Randall later that night for a welcome home celebration after the team returned to Madison.

It was madness. The entire field was elbow to elbow with students and supporters. I don't remember there actually being any ceremony, but then the players were wandering through the massive crowds. It was a pretty spectacular moment.

Great cover, disappointing lack of content.

One I wasn't sure when I'd see again.

But here we are today. Bo Ryan is in his first Final Four with a team that has gelled so incredibly well (and they're funny! Read this and thank me for the laughs later) and can play some amazing basketball.

And if you need me tonight, look for the girl decked out in red pacing in front of the TV.

Go Badgers!

Friday, April 4, 2014

March Reading Recap

How is it already April? Seriously. The days are just flying by this year.

Maybe it's because the weather is crap, but I read a fair amount in March. I finished eight books in March for a total of 3,120 pages. That brings the yearly total to 20 books and 7,237 pages. I'd say that's a pretty good start on my 77 book goal for the year.

So what'd I read?

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Living Proof: A Novel of Key West by Kevin May
Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson
The Game Changer by J. Sterling
Broken Harbor by Tana French
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Definitely a mix

And now for the brief reviews, complete with number of stars given out on GoodReads. Follow me here if you’d like a more timely update on what I’m reading, what I think and what’s been added to my to-read list.

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead  ****
Go read last month's reading recap for a full review of the series. This was a decent ending to a six-book series, it tied stuff together.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion  *****
I had no idea what to expect when I picked this up. I put it on my to-read list because it was a catchy title. Turned out to a fun story.

Living Proof: A Novel of Key West by Kevin May  ***
I picked this up after seeing it on a counter in a little off the beaten path restaurant (with amazing quesadillas) I ate at in Key West. It was a quick read.

Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson  ****
This was cute. A fun read.

The Game Changer by J. Sterling  ***
A decent read, but it was kind of annoying that it seemed like every other word out of the male main character's mouth was profanity.

Broken Harbor by Tara French  *****
One of my favorite books this month. I really, really like this author. She creates a story that leaves you guessing until the very end.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell  *****
Another one of my favorites. There was something about this story that just sucked me in. I seriously devoured this book in 24 hours, and that included taking breaks for sleeping and watching a lot of NCAA basketball.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh  ***
I don't read this blog, so I'm not sure exactly how it ended up on my to-read list. It was OK. The chapters about the dogs were the best. That and the one about the goose.

So that was March. In what might be a first, I actually don't have a stack of books sitting on my table waiting to be read and my hold list at the library is non-existent. Guess I better starting sifting through my somewhat lengthy to-read list and try to find some titles. Anyone have any suggestions?