Thursday, January 24, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. Birthdays. Yeah, it kind of stinks sometimes when you have to admit you're another year older. But in general, they're happy, fun days. Today was not one of those birthdays. A car that refused to start, getting stuck at work much later than I'm used to and hearing that it'll cost me $450 to fix the non-starting car. Yup. Not really the makings of a happy birthday. But then general thought among friends is I should just do a birthday do-over or, heck, just celebrate all weekend. It's got to get better than today.

2. What might have helped? Being able to go to the gym tonight after my no good, terrible day. But since I have no functioning car and am relying on a co-worker for a ride to and from work, that wasn't going to happen. And it would have been nice, not only to relieve the stress, but also because I haven't worked out all week. Between a crazy work schedule and below zero temps, it just hasn't been happening. And I'm definitely at the point where I need to sweat.

3. On the bright side? It's going to snow tonight. That puts a little smile on my face, because I'm really not a fan of seeing green grass in January when the temperatures are so freaking cold. Besides, it might be nice to be able to use my new snowshoes again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Adding yoga to the list

So I stepped out of my comfort zone tonight.

I went to a yoga class.

I'd never been to one before. I hear people who rave about it and the benefits it has. But I've always kind of thought of it as something that wasn't quite my style. I mean. I like to move. Sweat. Run. Bike. Pulling out a mat and holding poses? Didn't really sound like something I'd enjoy.

But a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to a class tonight at the YMCA and since one of my goals for the year is up the cross training and try new stuff, I said, sure. Why not.

I admit, it was weird when I got to the room the class was being held in and the lights were off. There were just some Christmas lights strung up around the room and people with those fake, electric candles sitting in front of their mats. I shrugged my shoulders, picked up a mat and block from the instructor, warned her I had no idea what I was doing and headed for the back row.

I don't really remember everything we did. I know there was some sun salutations, warriors, child's pose (hey, I rocked that one!) and pigeons. And some other moves that I don't know what they were called. Overall impressions? It seemed like it was geared towards the beginner. Kind of felt like choreographed stretching to me.

And I kind of liked it. I admit, I don't do enough stretching and this felt pretty good.

So I don't foresee myself becoming a yoga fanatic anytime soon, but I think I might head back to that class again next week and in following weeks. It might be a good supplement to my workouts and I'm sure once training kicks it up a notch, I'll be grateful for those choreographed stretching sessions.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Books! I read a bunch!

Let’s talk about books for a moment. Because unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, we all know that I spent a considerable time reading last year.

I finished 47 books in 2012. Going in the year, my goal was to finish 40 books by the time the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31. I’d say I accomplished that goal. The 47 books is the most books I’ve read in a year since I started keeping track of what I read in 2006. The previous high was 45 in 2006 and 2008. And the 47 books I read this year? They weren’t exactly short. On my way to finishing them, I read 16,190 pages. That’s an average of 344 pages per book. For comparison’s sake, I read 36 books and 13,202 pages in 2011. Nice little increase. Oh, the average time it took me to finish a book? Just shy of 8 days.

Other numbers that jump out:

The shortest book I read was Lauren Oliver’s Hana at 64 pages. The longest was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, which checked in at 667. There were a couple of authors that made my list multiple times, including Cecily von Ziegesar (2), Lauren Oliver (3), E.L. James (3), Sara Shepard (3), Veronica Roth (2), Sylvia Day (2), Lauren Kate (3) and Ally Condie (2).

So if I look at my list, there are a few things that jump out at me. Young adult and series.

I may be in my 30s, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I read a lot of young adult lit in 2012. Most of it from the dystopia genre. And I liked it. A lot. Going along with that, I read quite a few series this year. Unfortunately, most of them are series that aren’t complete. So now I’m stuck waiting for the next installment to come out sometime in 2013. I have a feeling there may be some repeats in 2013 as I re-familiarize myself of what’s going on in a series before cracking open the newest book.
Highlights from the year?

The Divergent/Insurgent series by Veronica Roth was so good. One of those books that it was hard to put down and I almost like it better than The Hunger Games. I also really liked The Selection by Kiera Cass, kind of slow in the beginning, but I see potential so I’m anxious to see what the next books in the series brings. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green…OMG, can you say tear jerker? So good.

In non-young adult books, yes. I read the Fifty Shades trilogy. Yes. It was good. But the writing was awful. If you want the same type of book, try out Sylvia Day’s Bared to You series. Much better writing. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was a really good book with a somewhat unexpected ending and Wild by Cheryl Strayed was an interesting read.

There weren’t any books that I flat out hated this year, but two that I probably wouldn’t recommend are Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and Two Kisses for Maddy by Matthew Logelin. Really didn’t like them and at times I found myself wishing I had that ability to just put a book down and quit.

Anyway. Here’s the list. If you want any more details, you might be able to find them in my archive. Just click on the “books” tag. I’m toying with doing a bit more in-depth reviews of each book I read in 2013, but we’ll see. 

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Ruthless by Sara Shepard
Another Hill to Climb by Bo Ryan with Rick Reilly
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
50/50 by Dean Karnazes
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
You Know You Love Me by Cecily von Ziegesar
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
In a Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself and Training for Life by Sarah Reinerstsen
In the Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Hana by Lauren Oliver
Pretty Little Secrets by Sara Shepard
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Stunning by Sara Shepard
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Torment by Lauren Kate
Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
Passion by Lauren Kate
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Matthew Logelin
Gone Girl by Gillin Flynn
Matched Ally Condie
Crossed by Ally Condie
The Selection by Kiera Cass
A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey by Chrissie Wellington
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom

Goals for 2013? I think  I'll up my game and try for 45 books in the year. And of course I'll keep with my goal of reading one "classic" per year. I don't think I'll be waiting until late November to do that though. In fact, I think I already have a title picked out. 

So what'd you all read in 2012? And what are you planning to tackle in 2013?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Polar Bear Dash 5K Race Report

I wasted no time running my first race in 2013.

I waited until 11 a.m. And considering I was asleep until 7:30ish, I'd say that's kind of impressive.


I headed down to Milwaukee early New Year's Day to meet up with some friends for a Rose Bowl viewing party. But we're all runners. So naturally we (Renee, Sara, Jodi and I) started out the day with a 5K run in South Milwaukee, the Polar Bear Dash 5K.

Bundled up and ready to run with Sara, Renee and Jodi.

It was held in Grant Park, along the shore of Lake Michigan. And it was cold. As in 9 degrees cold. Yup. It's been a while since I ran in temperatures that cold. And there was a bit of wind. But we bundled up and got ready to run.

The course was an out and back with an extra chunk added on at the end. The out and back ran through the park. Pretty. Scenic. And a few rolling hills. Right at Mile 2 I glanced over at a clearing near some woods and what do I see standing there?

A deer. A big one. With antlers.

What is it with me and deer lately? I swear they're following me!

But the deer just stood there. Looking as the runners ran by.

Yeah. That's not snow. That's sand.

And I ran. Back to where the starting area was, but we weren't done yet. It was down hill towards a boat launch area. And a beach. Yes. I ran on a sandy beach strewn with rocks. Thought I was going to twist my ankle for sure. But I didn't.

We had to run towards the water where I had the option of running straight and right into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan  or taking a left and heading down the sandy beach to the finish. I opted to stay on land.

 Yup. Not gonna run through that.

I finished up, grabbed some water and met up with the girls. Then it was time for Rose Bowl fun. Well, it would have been much more fun had the Badgers won, but it was still a great day in Milwaukee!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Rose Bowl Day!

 Source: Bleacher Report

The day I've been waiting for is here!

It's Rose Bowl Day!

What's that you say? I should be celebrating New Year's Day? Uh, no. Rose Bowls are MUCH more important.

Besides, for the third straight year, the Badgers will be playing in the Granddaddy of Them All. And I can't wait. Badgers. Stanford. Rose Bowl. Yay!

Like I have the last two years, I tried to make a convincing argument to my parents about why I should have headed west to Pasadena and sat in the stands for the game. I think my argument was especially convincing this year. Think about it.

The last two Rose Bowls Wisconsin lost. To those darn Horned Frogs from TCU in 2011 and the Oregon Ducks in 2012. Both years? I was sitting at home in Wisconsin.

The last time Wisconsin was victorious in a Rose Bowl? That would be 2000. Where was I? I was sitting in the end zone in the stadium. Who was Wisconsin playing? Stanford. Who was roaming the sidelines as the head coach for the Badgers? Barry Alvarez.

What's that? Sounds familiar? That's because it is! Wisconsin's playing Stanford today. And because Bret Bielema bolted for a head coaching gig at Arkansas two days after the Badgers won the Big Ten Championship Game and the right to play in the Rose Bowl (Really? I mean, who does that?), Barry Alvarez will be roaming the sidelines in the head coaching role today.

I'm telling you. I should be there.

But I won't be. Instead I'm going to be heading down to Milwaukee, first to run a 5K and then take in the Rose Bowl goodness with Renee. I can't wait. Should be lots of fun!

On Wisconsin!