Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Words of wisdom from my Dad

I could hear my Dad in the background, "She's nuts."

And he was probably right. I mean it was 92 degrees outside and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Most sane people would be running for the air conditioning, or at least a fan. Me? I was heading out for a 4.5 mile run.

My Mom had already scolded me. Told me I should have gotten my lazy butt out of bed at 5:30 a.m. in order to get the run in before it turned into an oven outside. But I'm quite fond of sleep. So 5:30 a.m.? Not my friend. After the scolding, Mom turned into the worrier. Did I bring water? Yes. And are you taking it with you on the run? Yes. And I even have an extra water bottle for once I'm done with my run. And remember, if you start to not feel well, stop. OK Mom, I got it.

Sigh. My parents. They've supported my crazy decision to run this half-marathon, even if they don't completely understand why I want to run 13.1 miles, just for the heck of it. And they listen as I complain about miles that I have to run or the brutal weather that I've had to run in. And my Mom has come out to watch me in all the races I've run so far this summer and will be standing along the race route come September. And although he hasn't said it, I'm pretty sure my Dad will be out there too. And they won't care if I come in first or dead last.

But as I was giving myself the pep talk today before I took off for my run, I had to agree with my Dad. His daughter, the girl who quit the middle school cross country team after one season, who spent her time on the tennis court during the fall sports season? There can only be one reason why she's decided that this running thing, especially when temperatures are hovering around 90, is fun.

"She's nuts."

Today, I couldn't agree with him more.

Oh yeah, the run itself? It wasn't too awful. Yes it was hot and yes the 4.5 miles felt like a gazillion miles. But overall, it wasn't too bad. I forgot to take my watch along, but I think I finished it in about 50 minutes, so my pace was just about what I normally run, even though I felt like I was walking at one point near mile 4.

The monthly page review

Considering how busy I was in July, I'm actually quite pleased with the number of pages that I turned.

During July, I finished four books for a total of 1,961 pages. Not bad considering I almost had a heart attack when June ended and a total of two books were read.

So what'd I read in July? Here's the list:

A Match Made on Madison by Dee Davis
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

That brings my total for the year to 31 books and 12,030 pages.

While the "TBD" notation has been getting way too cozy in the On Deck circle lately, have no fear, I have plenty of things to read. At the moment, I have a smallish stack checked out from the library and a large stack of books that I own that are still patiently waiting to be read, starting with "Water for Elephants" once I finish up "The Final Frontiersman."

Monday, July 30, 2007

It was so bad, I just hit repeat

If I was playing golf, I'd be taking a mulligan. If I was playing tennis though and just hit a dandy of a serve into the bottom of the net, I'd get a second serve. I'm not sure if Hal has a nifty word for it, but I do.

A do-over.

As in, I slacked so badly last week it wasn't even funny. So I'm repeating training week 7.

The week started off OK. I got in a nice leisurely 5 mile bike ride to watch the air show on Monday and followed that up with a 4.5 mile run on Tuesday. But after that? Yeah, I just marked up my training plan using the big ole fat Sharpie marker with the words L-A-Z-Y. Wednesday was horribly humid. So I didn't run. Thursday, I had good intentions, but then the radar told me it was going to start pouring and storming at any moment. Silly me, I believed the weather people. Too bad it took 2 hours before the first raindrops hit the pavement. Instead of making up a run on Friday, I felt it was a better use of my time to head north and have dinner with my parents. And Saturday, well, I spent the day walking around the EAA grounds and standing in awe, watching the Raptors.

So there was no way I was ready to attempt a 7-mile run on Sunday. Instead I opted for the do-over plan. I set off on the Wiouwash Trail with intentions to do a 6-mile run. But around mile 2.5, the EAA weary legs let me know that 6 miles just wasn't going to happen, so I opted for the 5.25 miles I got in. Which I was OK with.

Even thought it was 90 by the time I got home from work, I'm happy to admit that I still headed out for an 8 mile bike ride. And If I was smart, I'd set the alarm for 5:30 or 6 tomorrow morning to get in my 4.5 mile run before the mercury rises into the mid-90s and it gets humid. But since I'm having issues waking up before 7 lately, I'll probably leave the run until after work, and then complain about how brutal it was. Because that's what I do.

Hopefully this do-over week will go better than last week's awful first attempt at Week 7.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Did you just hear that?

They were so loud, the walls of the shack shook.

Yes my friends, today I finally got to see the F-22 Raptors, the newest fighter jet in the U.S. Air Force's fleet. It made my week long wait to spend a shift working at the EAA AirVenture Convention totally worth it.

And they were cool. And loud. And super fast.

Before I trained my eyes to the sky looking for the Raptors, I got a chance to listen to Maj. Paul "Max" Moga speak to the media. Moga's an Air Force pilot who gets to fly the Raptor. He said when he climbed into the cockpit, ready to take his first flight in the Raptor, which was solo since it's a one-seater plane, it was a mix of emotion. "I was half thrilled beyond belief that I was sitting there. The other half of me was so damn nervous that I was going to screw something up."

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the full Raptor demonstration today. This was mostly because the air space Moga was working with here was too small. So convention goers got a scaled down display of what the Raptor could do, including reaching speeds of Mach. Which was still cool. And loud. And fast.

"When they see the jet doing things they've never seen a combat jet do before, they think, it just isn't supposed to be able to do that," Moga told the media earlier today.

Exactly. A fighter jet, it's not supposed to be able to do stuff like fly straight up into the air and who knows what else, because I wasn't able to see everything it can do today. But check out this video and you can see some of the mind boggling things this plane is capable of.

But did I tell you it was loud? See for yourself, since the plane was flying way too fast for me to take a picture, I tried out the video function on my camera.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I've slacked...but I've got excuses!

The running thing? Not going so well this week.

Sure I got in Sunday's 6-miler and a 4.5 mile run on Tuesday, but since then, my running shoes have sat by my breakfast bar. Neglected.

Blame it on Mother Nature and work. Last night, I got home from work late, around 7ish and it was super humid and gross outside. So I gave myself the day off. Today, I came home and thought about going for a run, even though it was still incredibly humid. I flipped on the news to catch the weather and the radar was showing this blob of green, yellow and red moving towards the City on the Water. Me? I'm not a fan of storms, so I thought I better skip the run rather than end up on the trail, 2 miles from my car in a downpour featuring hail and lightning. If I had known the rain would take almost two hours to get here, I would have probably snuck a run in.

I'm crossing my fingers I'll be able to lace up the sneakers tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I want to talk about Harry, but...

I'm not allowed to.

At least not until Krista's finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Because she's been known to frequent this blog and has threatened to hurt anyone who dares spoil the ending.

And have you seen her mean look? Scary. :)

So until she's finished all 759 pages, I'll wait. And maybe that's a good thing. Because what I finished reading yesterday, it's still swirling around in my head. And I'm not sure if I'd be able to string together coherent thoughts yet.

And I think the final installment of Harry's adventures deserve a decent, well-thought out post.

But I will say this, after I finished the last page, I closed the cover, sat it on the floor and went "Whoa."

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm up already!

Now that's what I call an alarm clock.

It was just after 9 a.m. and I admit, I was already thinking of getting out of bed (come on, it's my last day of vacation) when I hear a roar.

A roar that steadily got louder and louder until I swear the stuff on my walls was shaking.

Then the roar died down. But it came back. Multiple times.

Gotta love the fighter jets that come to EAA's AirVenture Convention. And if today's any indication, I have a feeling I won't be late for work any day this week.

Apparently these fighter jets were of the F-15E variety. And they were loud. But I'm sure the F-22 Raptors, which come to EAA on Thursday, will be so much louder, and so cool.

But I'll make sure I'm awake and on the grounds by the time they show up.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Half-marathon training: Week 6

Well, I'm halfway through my half-marathon training program. And I must say, things are going pretty well.

Today I logged my second 6-mile run. I was a bit slower than last week, about 5 minutes, but I also think I ran a little bit farther this week. Last week I skipped the smallish hill right around the mid-point of my run and headed back to the car. This week, I sucked it up and ran uphill. It wasn't much farther, maybe a quarter of a mile, but still, it was farther.

So today's run. It went OK. I got to try out my water bottle thingy I bought and I was very pleased with my purchase. The 21-ounce bottle held enough water for me not only to drink, but also squirt over myself when I started to get really hot around mile 5. I made decent time during miles 1 through 3, but I think I slowed down a bit during the second half of the run, but I'm OK with that. And I only took one 40-second walk break today, around mile 5.5.

The rest of my training went pretty well this week too. I got in two 4-mile runs and a 3.1 mile run in addition to two bike rides. Total mileage this week was 22 miles on the bike and 17.4 miles of running. Not bad.

Only 62 more days to go.

They came, they saw and they tore my apartment apart

My mom is babysitting the Rugrats and they decided to head down to the City on the Water to meet me for dinner and stop by my apartment for a visit.

The Rugrats are my 5-year-old niece and her two brothers, who are 2 1/2 and almost 1.

We had dinner at Culver's and afterwards we stopped in a parking lot and watched the planes come in for the EAA AirVenture Convention, which starts tomorrow. Then we headed to my house for a bit.

And let me tell you, considering they were only here for 45 minutes, my apartment looked like a tornado swept through it. I don't have many kids' toys, but what I do have? Yeah, scattered throughout the apartment. And I totally do not have a baby-proof apartment. All over there were CDs or picture frames or remote controls piled on tall pieces of furniture, like CD towers, out of the reach of an 11-month old.

Then there's the drool. It seems wherever I walk, I step in a semi-moist spot of carpeting, a byproduct of a teething, drooling 11-month old.

I love the Rugrats dearly, but I can honestly say, I was glad to see them go home tonight, clutching their sippy cups of ice water and Ziploc baggies of animal cookies.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Who dies? I don't know yet.

The final installment of Harry's adventures is in my hands. I've had it a total of 8 hours so far. And guess how much of it I've already read.

A whopping 62 pages.

Sad isn't it? But I plan on heading out the park tomorrow afternoon and securing a comfy spot for my blanket near the water and reading.

My hope? To have the book finished by the time I head back to work Tuesday, cause I'm sure I won't be able to avoid all the Harry Potter gossip once I return to the working world.

Now it's time for a bit of Harry

I ran down the hill, up the hill and I still beat that woman by a nose

I was so happy last night, I felt like doing a little dance.

But instead of dancing across the finish line, I decided to out sprint the woman next to me instead.

Last night I ran in the Sunset 5K, a run held in conjunction with Paperfest in Kimberly. And the reason I wanted to do that little dance? How about a new personal best for me. That's right, I crossed the finish line in 31 minutes, 56 seconds. A new fastest time for me.

In April, I finished the Oshkosh 5K in 32 minutes, 30 seconds and my time at the Lake Fly 5K in June was in the 33:30 range (but in my defense, that was 3-weeks post Great Neck Slicing). So needless to say, I was quite pleased with shaving off 34 seconds off my 5K time last night.

So a little bit about the race. It was in a park in Kimberly and was two laps of a 1.55 mile loop. The course itself wasn't too bad. Pretty flat in the neighborhood surrounding the park, but unfortunately it featured this nasty hill right before the finish/midpoint.

When we were getting ready to start I lined up in the middle of the pack. I ended up putting myself in a good spot, right around a bunch of runners who were about at my pace. I ran with them for about the first three-quarters of a mile, but then I found myself passing a bunch of folks. And I felt good.

As I passed the first mile marker, the guy yelled out 9:35. Dude, did I hear the man right? Did he just tell me I ran a 9:35 minute mile? That's unheard of for me? But I was pleased. And of course then I started thinking, could I maintain the pace for a 30-minute 5K? Needless to say, that 9:35 minute mile gave me a bit of motivation, especially when I got to the bottom of that nasty hill for the first time.

The hill. It was tough. But I kept running. And passing people who gave up and started to walk up the hill. I got to the top and saw my Mom and niece standing by the side of the road, cheering me on. I kept running and all of a sudden the cheers got substantially louder. What? All these people cheering for little ole me? Nope. Turns out the race winner was right behind and that's who they were cheering for. Yeah, he was fast and deserved all the cheers. But it still felt nice to hear all the cheering and I ran by.

I kept running. I felt like I was keeping up a decent pace, maybe a tiny bit slower, but I was OK with that. The race official at the 2-mile marker told me my time was 20:30. Still not too shabby. A 30-minute 5K was still in my sights, although I'd have to pick up the pace a bit.

Then there was the hill again. People around me stopped running and walked, but I kept running. The top of the hill was in my sights. I rounded the corner and there was the finish line. I started pushing it, hoping to finish in a decent sprint. And I would have been happy to leave it at that.

But then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this woman come up beside me. And there was no way I was going to let her beat me. So I pushed it. I was in a flat out sprint. I swear, the last time I ran that fast had to be in my junior high school track days, the days when I thought I was a sprinter.

And my determination paid off.

I beat her by a nose.

I don't think she was happy.

But me? Not only did I beat her, but I posted my best 5K time yet.


They're green and come from outer space. Now will they do all the work for me?

Hey guess what? I got new shoes and my feet are MUCH happier!

My Nike Dual-Ds, the running shoes that I had come to love, were starting to give me sore feet and blisters. There didn't seem to be any cushion left in the heel and considering I've put about 220 miles on them since February (and who knows how many miles on the treadmill in the two years before that), I figured it was probably time to replace them.

Since I temporarily lost my mind and I decided I was going to run a half-marathon, I thought I should make my shoe purchase at a store where they might have a good idea of the best type of shoe for me. So I headed over to the Fox Valley Running Co. And let me say, they were fabulous.

First the woman measured my feet (and apparently one is slightly bigger than the other - but don't ask me which one, I forget) and then had me run on the treadmill while she videotaped me. After watching the tape, she talked about how my feet hit the ground when I run and said that a neutral shoe would be best for me. I then got to test drive about four different pairs of shoes outside.

And let me tell you, the pair I ended up buying, a pair of Asics Gel-Nimbus VIII, are like heaven! First off, they look space age, they look like they could do the actual running for you. But did I mention how comfortable they are? No? Well, they are. I hardly feel like I'm wearing a pair of shoes and there's a bunch of cushioning in them, so my feet don't hurt. And so far, I haven't even had to worry about blisters or sore feet that result from the "breaking in" process. I took the shoes out for a 4-mile spin on Thursday and ran a 5K in them Friday and my feet are fine!

While shoe shopping, I also picked up a pair of socks and a water bottle thingy for my long runs. The past few weeks I've realized that I needed to find some way to bring water with me on my runs of 5+ miles, since I was dying of thirst by the end of the run. And it wouldn't be good to finish a 6-mile run and then die from thirst.

Kudos to the folks at Fox Valley Running Co. for helping me find what I need. I'll definitely go back there and recommend it to others.

Yeah, he was fast

I headed out to Wisconsin International Raceway Thursday night, where my cousin races a limited late model car.

In past years, I've made it out to watch him quite a few times, even though I was living in the 'burg and the races were on Thursday nights. But now that live a half hour away, I've only gotten to the track one other time.

And I admit, I enjoy watching the races. Just like you might find me channel surfing and keeping tabs on the NASCAR race on Sundays.

I never used to like auto racing. In fact, I found it a bit pointless. I mean seriously, they were driving in circles. But you can blame my new found enjoyment of it on the year I lived in Indiana. That year, I was the designer who put together the Monday sports section. And I had to include every bit of racing news possible, otherwise I'd have some very angry rednecks calling me and complaining. During the year I was there, I grew to enjoy keeping tabs on the sport and I also got the opportunity to head down to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and talk to NASCAR drivers Ricky Rudd, Bobby Labonte and Tony Raines for our Brickyard preview tab. I so wanted the Matt Kenseth interview, but unfortunately he decided to skip out on testing at IMS that year.

Anyway, back to Thursday night at WIR.

My cousin got involved in a wreck about 2/3 of the way through his feature race and wasn't able to finish since he cracked his fuel tank.

But there was also a buzz of excitement in the air since NASCAR star Kyle Busch was making an appearance at the track. Between races in Slinger and Madison, Busch decided to make a pit stop at WIR on Thursday and race in the 50-lap late model feature.

Since he was the fast qualifier, nearly setting a track record, Busch started the feature somewhere in the middle of the pack, about 15th place. And to watch him work his way through traffic, at speeds of 120 miles per hour, yeah, that was pretty amazing. While most drivers out at WIR try to pass one car at a time, Busch was going for two or three cars at a clip. By lap 21, he had worked himself up to second place and quickly took the lead on a restart following a big wreck. He went on to win the race and afterwards could be found in the pits, taking apart his own car during the inspection process.

Now, I'm not a big Kyle Busch fan, in fact when it comes to NASCAR drivers, I like Matt Kenseth. But I have to admit, Busch put on quite the show Thursday night. And I'm glad I was there to see it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Please tell me my vacation isn't almost over

Dear readers,

I've returned from a few days of rest and relaxation at my parents' house, which is a whopping 30 minutes up the road.

And I have stories. And pictures.

But first I need sleep.

~ A tired, but happy, Badgergirl

Monday, July 16, 2007

I have a family of elephants living upstairs

So the people who moved in upstairs? The ones with the baby that doesn't stop crying?

Apparently they're also related to elephants.

Why? Mostly because I don't think they know how to walk normally. It always sounds as though they're jumping from place to place. I should not be able to hear normal footsteps. But I hear Every. Single. Footstep.

It's a constant, STOMP..STOMP...STOMP. And occasionally a quick thump.thump.thump.thump. And interspersed amongst it all? The baby that still continues to cry non-stop.

And unlike elephants, these are not large people. She's as skinny as a pole and the guy isn't much bigger. And the baby? Well all he does is cry.

All I can hope is that these new folks are still in the process of moving furniture around in an attempt to set up their apartment. But somehow, I don't think it's furniture anymore. And if it is, why in the name of all things sacred are they moving furniture around at 11 o'clock at night?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I dodged a kid on a bike around Mile 1, but no bikers (or runners) were hurt during this run

This whole half-marathon, 13.1 mile jaunt is starting to get a little less scary.

This morning I logged a 6-mile run, my longest run so far. At this point, I'm halfway to a half marathon. And the miles just keep getting higher from here on out.

To be honest, I was a bit freaked out by 6 miles. I mean, that's two back to back 5Ks. Or a few months ago, that was a good chunk of what I ran during the entire week.

But today, I put one foot in front of the other and I did it. I finished my 6-mile run in 1 hour, 10 minutes. Just about what I thought I would.

I have to admit, I let myself take two 40-second walk breaks, once just after 3 miles (mostly because there didn't seem to be any shade on the route I was running) and the other was just after the 5-mile marker. I probably didn't need the two short walk breaks, but I took them anyway. If only to wipe the sunscreen/sweat mixture out of my eyes - Coppertone Sport your advertising campaign lies, the sunscreen does isn't so ultra sweat proof, because it does run into my eyes and stings.

Like I said, the run wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. I actually felt like I could go a little bit farther. But after 6 miles, I was dying of thirst. So I quit running and sucked down the entire contents of the water bottle that was waiting for me in the car. I've determined I need to find some method of bringing water with me on these longer runs. I've seen people wearing the fuel belts, but those look a bit bulky for my tastes. But I saw this guy today who had this water bottle strappy thing that he had in his hand, so he could run while carrying his bottle and not lose his grip on it. I think that's what I'm in the market for.

Now it's off to create a new play list for my MP3 player, because the one I currently am using, it's not long enough for the long runs. And I don't recommend fumbling with the MP3 player controls while running, especially on a trail full of bikers, walkers, runners and dogs.

But 6-miles, not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I almost got blown to Kansas

Sure, now it isn't so windy.

I decided to head out for a bike ride this afternoon. It was deceptively calm at my apartment. The leaves on the trees were rustling a little bit, but it didn't seem very windy. I didn't think I'd have many problems.

I was wrong.

When I left my apartment, I headed south for a bit, intending to make a 12-mile loop around the airport. The ride was going fine, until I turned onto a country road and started to head west.

Then the winds hit me. Literally almost knocking me off my bike. I don't have anything measuring wind speed on my bike, but I swear the winds were a steady 20 miles per hour from the west. Meaning I was biking directly into them. It was brutal. Not quite as brutal as last weekend's 5-run in the super humid weather, but brutal.

I kept heading west for about three miles before I took a turn north. And thankfully, the winds died down a bit, probably due to the trees. Unfortunately, I had one more little jaunt west before I could finally start the trip back towards home, with the wind at my back. But of course, once I had the wind at my back and I was heading back into town, it didn't even feel gusty. Must have been those country roads, surrounded by miles of fields and nothing to buffer the wind.

As I was riding by the airport, I couldn't help but notice the flurry of activity, as the folks at EAA are busy getting the grounds ready for next week's AirVenture convention. They were getting the campgrounds ready and putting up signage directing people to parking and the airshow.

And me? I was just the girl on her bike who managed not to get knocked off by the gusty winds.

Friday, July 13, 2007

10 days and no plans...perfect!

For the past 4 hours, I have officially been on vacation. And for the next 10 days, I have absolutely no obligations and nothing that has to get done.

Well, I take that back, there is one thing that must get done - a doctor's appointment Tuesday - but other than that, I have 10 days to myself to do whatever I please.

And I can't wait.

I'm ready for a break from work. Ready for some "me" time, when I can decide what I want to do, when I want to do it. If I don't feel like getting dressed until noon, I'll do it. If for some crazy reason I feel like getting up at 6 a.m., I will. The next 10 days are all about what I want.

That being said, there are a few things I should do.
  • I really need to give my apartment a good cleaning. I've just been doing a kind of half-assed job the last month or two.
  • I should weed out my closet. I'm sure there are things in there that haven't been worn in ages and I could probably benefit from the extra space, and hangars.
  • My checkbook? Yeah, it needs to be balanced. Badly.
If I'm smart, I'd get those things done early, leaving the rest of my vacation to have fun and relax. At the moment, I don't have many fun things planned, but there's a few things I want to do.
  • My running shoes need to be replaced. Shoe shopping is always fun.
  • I think I might take a trip up to Door County, where I might rent a bike and take a ride through Peninsula State Park.
  • I might treat myself to a matinee viewing of the new Harry Potter movie.
  • I'll probably spend Thursday night at the racetrack, watching my cousin race at WIR.
  • There's a 5K I'm running Friday night in Kimberly.
  • Of course plenty of me time and time with friends is also included in the mix.
  • I'm hoping to sneak in a few nice rides on my bike. It's getting a little lonely in the garage.

And who can forget the running? Including Sunday's 6-mile journey.

Ahh, vacation. I love it!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

One Harry Potter task completed, one more to go

I couldn't put it off any longer. I FINALLY decided to pre-order my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Part of the reason it took me so long is because I was trying to decide if I wanted to pre-order it from Amazon.com or buy it somewhere locally.

The City on the Water is doing this big Harry Potter thing next weekend and it sounds really cool. There's a scavenger hunt and characters will be walking around in costume and a big dinner thing, all leading up to the midnight release of the book. And I thought about getting my copy of the book that way, but I couldn't really decide, especially since I'm not sure I'm going to be in town that day.

Then there's Amazon.com.

See, I pre-ordered my copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix back during the summer of 2003. And I had the understanding that my book would be on my doorstep the day it was released. I remember, I was living in Indiana and my mom was flying into Indianapolis to come visit for the weekend, but we were going to stay in Indy. However, because I thought my book was being delivered by the mailman that day, after picking my mom up at the airport, we drove the hour back to my apartment just to check my mailbox. And there was no book. I remember wandering around Indianapolis all weekend, seeing the displays and wanting my book. It ended up coming like four days later because Amazon wasn't clear on which shipping option you had to choose in order to ensure your book would be delivered on the release date. Unfortunately, I had chosen the wrong shipping method. Hence, my book came late.

And do I risk it this time? Well, when I saw Amazon was selling it for $17.99 plus shipping and was guaranteeing it would be on my doorstep July 21 or else they'd refund my money, it was something I couldn't pass up.

So my book is reserved and should be in my hands July 21. Now, I just have to find sometime to hit the movie theater and check out the new movie. That might just be one of the things I do during my vacation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The little things are bugging me today

A few random things I want to complain about today:

* Gas. Seriously, the price of gas spike 30 cents overnight. As in yesterday the signs said $3.09 and today, when I went to go fill up my gas tank (because I would have done it yesterday but wasn't expecting a price jump), it was $3.39. So of course when I went to fill my car up after work today, it was $26.50 to fill my gas tank up three-quarters of the way. What gives? Why the huge spike? Last time I checked, the Fourth of July was last week. So why can those big oil companies who provide us with gas justify the 30 cent increase? Grr.

* I got new neighbors over the weekend. A younger couple moved into the apartment above me and they have a baby, probably around 6 months old or so. It looks like a cute kid. And normally, I like babies. But this one? This one has been crying non-stop for the past 3 hours. And it's getting a bit old. Like I said, I like babies, but Mom and Dad upstairs need to figure out why their kid is crying and make it stop, because if the crying continues while I'm attempting to sleep, I will not be a happy camper.

* The last three times I've been running, I've ended up with a blister on my right foot. Twice it's been on the side of my big toe and once it was on the side of my foot, near my big toe. I'm not a big fan of blisters, they hurt. But I think I need new shoes and I'm going to get some next week, so hopefully that will solve the blister problem.

On a happier note, only two more days before I'm officially on vacation for a week. Other than a doctor's appointment, I have absolutely no plans. Just think, an entire week off to do whatever I please. I can't wait.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Bikes and books make for an enjoyable evening

I get to go into the office late tomorrow. As in, I have permission from the boss to stroll in around 1 p.m. In the afternoon. Meaning I can sleep in.

But chances are, there will be no sleeping late for me.

I have a feeling that tonight will be a relatively early night. I'm shooting for 10:30 p.m., which would be impressive since I've been up since 4:45 a.m. Yes, you read that right, 4:45 in the morning. As in, it was just beginning to get light outside. Way too early for my tastes.

Since I had to be to work at 6 a.m., I was supposed to get out around 3ish, but that didn't happen as I left work around 4.

While it wasn't as scorching as it had been the last two days, it was still kind of warm and muggy outside. I wasn't planning on doing much when I got home other than sit and read a book. But it was kind of nice outside and my bike was calling my name. So I hopped on it and took off for an 8-mile ride into town along the lake. Afterwards, I sacked out on my porch with my book and read for a bit before heading in for the night.

Since I get to go in late tomorrow, I'm shooting for squeezing in a 4-mile run in the morning, and it'll have to be early since it's supposed to be a bit toasty again. I haven't decided if I'm going to run in the neighborhood or if I'm going to venture out to the Wiouwash trail. At the moment, I think the trail's calling my name. But we'll see.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

And that's about all I did today

I think saying it was hot would be an understatement.

More like brutal. And scorching. Sure the thermometer read 80 degrees, but it felt so much hotter.

And it was only 9 a.m.

But I ran. All 5 miles, well except for the 50 seconds near mile 4.5 when my legs felt like absolute lead and it seemed like I was walking faster than I was running. But still. The 5 miles? It got done. I was a bit slower this week, 59 minutes compared to 58 last weekend, but I blame that on the sizzling temperatures and the nasty 20 mile per hour winds I was fighting during the final 2 miles.

My reward for running? I met a friend for lunch and then came home, popped in The Departed and did absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. I think I deserved it. Because did I mention it was hot today? Yeah, it was.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A girl can hope, because weathermen have been wrong before

Are the weathermen serious?

Ninety-seven for a high tomorrow and super humid? What's Mother Nature trying to do? Is this her idea of a joke? Because I'm not laughing.

And while the 10-mile bike ride I took this morning was refreshing, there was this little voice in the back of my head going, "You should have ran this morning 'cause tomorrow's gonna be H-O-T."

But I biked. And now it's going to be 97 tomorrow.

And I can't remember the last time I voluntarily set my alarm clock for 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning. But it might only be 80 at 7 a.m. tomorrow. And it will be a lot easier to run 5 miles when it's only 80 degrees outside instead of 97.

I'm still hoping it's a joke. Or a misprint. Or that the weathermen are wrong.

Friday, July 6, 2007

So what if I can't hear the helicopters?

Have you seen this?

I don't know about you, but my MP3 player is a standard part of my gear when I run. Strapping it on my arm is part of my pre-run ritual. First I throw on the shorts and tank top, then I pull my hair into a ponytail. Next I put on my socks and lace up the running shoes. Slather a bit of sunscreen on my face (I skip the rest of my body) and strap on my MP3 player before grabbing my sunglasses and heading out the door.

Leaving the MP3 player at home just isn't an option.

I like running with music. It keeps my mind occupied and as a result the minutes tick by faster and the miles fly by. I've been left in silence a few times. Mostly when my batteries decide to die or, heaven forbid, I've been stupid and left my MP3 player at home, leaving me to log the miles on the treadmill to nowhere with no entertainment whatsoever.

Silence? Yeah it's not fun.

But apparently some of those Running Bigwigs feel the need to tell us what we can do. And they think MP3 players are evil and should be banned.

"Race directors cite safety as the overriding concern. Runners wearing headphones are less likely to respond to directions from course marshals. They can't hear faster runners approaching from behind or hear warnings about vehicles or potholes."

I'm glad you're trying to look out for my safety, but honestly. If there's a faster runner behind me? It's probably because they were late getting to the starting line. And the course? I'm guessing it's probably wide enough for two folks to run side by side and I like to think I run in a straight line. The potholes and vehicles? Well, I'm pretty used to vehicles. The street by my apartment is a state highway with no sidewalks. The cars try to kill me each and every time I run, but they haven't succeeded yet. Might have something to do with the fact that although I crank the volume on my tunes, it still allows me to hear the rumble of an approaching car.

And honestly, if runners at the Atlanta event can't hear the helicopters over their music, I think they have a bigger problem than a pair of headphones.

Since they're apparently confiscating headphones at the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., I guess I'll never be running in that event. Because when I run, I need tunes. And tunes come from my MP3 player.

Right now, the fine folks at the Fox Cities Marathon just advise against it. Well, advise all you want, but come Sept. 23, you can bet I'll be at the starting line, with my headphones in tow.

How, Andy? And why?

Tell me I'm dreaming. Please?

Andy Roddick lost? In the quarters? After taking a two set lead? Tell me please how he managed to lose two tiebreaks and the fifth set 8-6 to Richard Gasquet?

Or at least tell me that Wimbledon's official site is wrong.

Because a quarterfinal loss means no Andy Roddick for me. And I'm not happy with that.

But it's all a dream. Really.

I wish.

There have been no Roddick sightings

It's nearly the end of Wimbledon and 10 days into the tournament, I've only caught bits and pieces of the action. Of course, it doesn't sound like there's been a ton of action to watch since it's been one big rain delay over there in England.

But still, I'm disappointed. Ten days into the tournament, I have yet to catch a glimpse of Andy Roddick. And it's not because he's been knocked out of the tournament. I just haven't been around to see any of the matches he's played.

If I have anything to say about it, that will change this weekend. Because, I will watch Andy this weekend. If it means having to strangle someone over at NBC to force them to show one of Andy's matches.

Because it's been too long since I got to see him smash the 120+ mile per hour serve. Or the big forehands. And of course it helps that he's gorgeous. Ahhh, Andy. Watching him makes me happy.

So that's the only plan I have this weekend.

Well, other than deciding which day I want to attempt my 5-mile run. I can go Saturday, when it's only supposed to be 92 degrees outside and steamy, or Sunday, when it's supposed to be 95 and super steamy. Not much difference. Either way, I think I'll be running early in the morning. With plenty of time left to enjoy Breakfast at Wimbledon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Sure they boomed, but I didn't really ahh that much

By the time I got home last night, it was raining. Not just a sprinkle here or a drop there. Not even a steady light rain.

No, it was coming down in sheets. As in, raining so hard it was hard to see 5 feet in front of me.

Needless to say I didn't go running. There's something about running in a sheet of rain that isn't so appealing.

But the sheets of rain didn't stop me from hopping in my car and heading up to Appleton to catch the fireworks with my Mom.

See, it was my one chance to enjoy a little bit of that Fourth of July hoopla that everyone else gets to experience today. Because, me? I get to sit at my desk at work. Oh well.

So that's why, even though it was raining in sheets, I was determined to catch some fireworks. Mom and I headed out to the north side of Appleton and secured a good spot in the parking lot of the grocery store across the street from the park where the fireworks were being shot off. And then we waited. And waited. In all, I think we waited for almost two hours. At times it looked like the rain was letting up. But as soon as it started to lightly sprinkle, the sheets returned, turning the parking lot into a lake with rapids.

Miraculously, the rain stopped and it started to clear up a bit at 9:15 p.m., precisely when the big booms went off that signaled the start of the fireworks. Somebody must've wanted me to enjoy my one shot at fireworks this year.

Although it had stopped raining, I still chose to watch the fireworks from the comfort, and dryness, of my car. And I don't want to sound whiny, but...they just weren't that good. I mean, the colors weren't very vibrant. There seemed to be a lot of lag time between fireworks. And there must have been one heck of a deal on ground displays, because I swear there were like 6 of them!

Maybe I'm spoiled. I usually catch the fireworks in Neenah on the Fourth of July. From the water. In a boat. You can't get any better than that. And my Ford Focus? A boat it surely isn't.

But at least I got the chance to see some fireworks. Even if they were from my car and even if they weren't all that spectacular. And who knows, I might even be able to catch a glimpse of the fireworks here in the City on the Water from my work window tonight.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I know I wouldn't die as long as there wasn't lightning, but ...

I'm supposed to be heading out for a 3.5 mile run tonight after work.

The problem?

The radar looks like someone spilled cans of red, orange and yellow paint all over Wisconsin and the TV weathermen keep squawking about a severe thunderstorm watch.

Right now, it's not raining here in the City on the Water, although it looks like it could start pouring any moment. But my problem is, if I head out for 3.5 miles, there is a distinct possibility I could be stuck in a nasty storm, while I'm still more than a mile from home.


That doesn't sound like too much fun.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I only finished two books!

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I only read two books in June.

Yup, that's right. Two. As in one plus one equals two. A pair.

But in my defense, a lot of trees were killed in order to provide the pages for the two books I read. Because the two books I read, not only are they 4 inches tall when stacked on top of each other, but they also check in at a total of 1,604 pages.

Yes, my friends. It was enough adventures at Hogwarts for two years.

In June, I finished:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

That brings my yearly stats to 27 books and 10,069 pages. And a piece of useless trivia? Checking in at 870 pages, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book I've read so far this year while The 25 Greatest Moments in Camp Randall History, at 156 pages, is the shortest.

For the moment, I'm taking a very brief breather from Harry's adventures and treating myself to a short piece of chick lit before diving into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Then of course, on July 21 I'll be settling in to find out what happens in the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

What am I going to do once I've exhausted the Harry Potter series? Have no fear. I have a stack that is starting to grow. So far, the stack includes Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell, The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards and The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald. At the moment, I don't have any plans for what to read first, and considering I own these books, there's always the distinct possibility that I'll keep them in the pile if I find something intriguing at the library.

But yes, two books for the month of June. While it may sound horrifying, just remember, 1,604 pages. That's a lot of trees.

I lived to tell you about it

You can mark my first 5-mile run down in the history books. As in, I completed it.

After semi-slacking all week, I knew I couldn't skip out on my long run this weekend. But I knew I wouldn't be in any kind of running mood to do it today, so I rolled out of bed early Saturday to pound the pavement. I already knew where I needed to go. It was just a matter of lacing up the sneakers and heading out.

It was early Saturday morning, so there wasn't a whole lot of traffic to worry about and it was still pretty tolerable outside, although a bit sunny. When I left my apartment, the Weather Channel said it was 64 degrees out. When I got back, it was still sunny, but the mercury in the thermometer had jumped to 76, and considering I was dripping in sweat, I believed it.

But anyway, the run...

Mile 1, not so bad. It's a mile I've covered countless times. Mile 2 was a new neighborhood, an area where I don't normally drive and haven't ran in before, so it was kind of nice to see some new scenery. I started the loop back towards home on Miles 3 and 4, taking a nice shady loop around a lake road neighborhood.

But Mile 5?

The last one. That was brutal. I swear, I was running so slow it felt like I was barely moving my feet! And by this point, I was starting to get tired. I've done 4 miles, heck I've even done 4.5 miles. But that last half-mile, when I could see my street sign in the distance, that was nasty.

I stuck it out though. I refused to stop running and walk, even for a few feet. So I ran the entire 5 miles. It took me 58 minutes, about an 11:15 minute mile, which honestly, if I could maintain that kind of pace for the half-marathon, I would be OK.

The big news though, I logged my first 5-mile run. And I didn't die. Which is always a good thing.