Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March reading review

After taking more than a month to tackle Gone with the Wind, I'm slowly getting back into the reading groove.

I finished 3 books in March for a total of 917 pages. That brings my total to 5 books and 2,250 pages for the year. Makes me wonder if I'm going to accomplish that 40-book goal I set for myself. Especially considering last year at this time? I had finished 13 books. Yeah, I'd say I'm a little behind.

Anyway. What'd I read? Take a look:

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
The Broker by John Grisham
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

In general, I usually like John Grisham, but I don't think The Broker is his best work. And the one about Dewey, the library cat? Kind of cute.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I got spoiled. Now it's back indoors.

I guess I've been spoiled.

Those days last week when it was super nice, with temperatures hovering in the mid-60s and the sun shining? Or even last weekend when it was still in the 50s and sunny.

Those days when I got to run outside. Those runs where I began to remember why I liked to run and how much better it is to log miles outside instead of indoors on a treadmill where you run to nowhere?

Like I said I was spoiled. It's not supposed to be that nice in Wisconsin in mid-March.

The last two days? That's what Wisconsin is like in mid-March. Windy. Cold. Cloudy. Temperatures in the lower-40s. Oh, and I forgot. Rain. Constantly. So I headed back indoors to the YMCA. Yesterday I did a little brick workout - spent about a half hour on the bike before finishing off the workout with a 2-mile run. Today, since it poured all day, I went back and just opted for a nice long ride on the bike.

Looks like I'll be heading back again tomorrow. Oh well. Some day spring-like weather will come to Wisconsin. And stay. And then I'll be able to run and bike to my heart's desire outside. And I'll love it. But until then? It's the YMCA for me.

Oh, and in March Madness news? My bracket features 14 of the Sweet 16 teams. Just missing Arizona and Purdue. Can't wait for the Madness to return on Thursday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Madness. I love it.

The Madness. I love it.

The opening weekend of the NCAA tournament is by far one of my most favorite weekends of the year. And if I had been smart, I would have scheduled that week-long unpaid vacation, also know as the furlough, for this week instead of the end of February. Because then? I could have sat in front of my TV and watched every. single. minute. of the first round.

I was working though. But I still managed to watch an awful lot of basketball. One of the perks of working at a newspaper I guess, we like to be informed. So the TV was on yesterday and the channel only changed in the afternoon to follow a local high school boys basketball team during their attempt at snatching a state title (they fell one game shy of the championship game).

After work I headed to the gym, planned on just a 45 minute session on the bike. But then I got pulled into the Minnesota/Texas game. And when the 45 minutes were up there was still 8 minutes to go in the half. And I could stop watching. So I kept pedaling. Another 15 minutes. One half of a basketball game, 60 minutes and 20.8 miles later I stopped and went home. To watch some more basketball.

More of the same today. Except I was the only person in the office for most of the day, so I got to do my work and enjoy the basketball in peace. Watched a chunk of the Marquette game during my lunch break (they were lucky to pull that one out) and after work headed home and prepared myself for the Badgers.

Yes. My Badgers. The team the NCAA tagged with a No. 12 seed. A first round date with No. 5
Florida State. So many people weren't giving Wisconsin a chance. But I did. And not just because I'm a Badgergirl. No. People weren't giving my boys enough credit. That 12 seed? I didn't agree.

I was watching the game tonight with my parents at this bar where we had gone for dinner. For most of the game, people weren't completely into the game. But me? I hardly spoke. Just watched the game. Cringed at that 12-point halftime deficit. Cheered when the boys in red pulled to even. Paced during the break between regulation and overtime and screamed, along with the rest of the bar, when Trevon Hughes hit the shot and the free throw with 2 seconds left to give Bucky the win.

Bring on Xavier on Sunday. Bucky and the boys are ready.

The bracket has held up fairly well so far. I went 25-7 during the first round. The West bracket is still completely intact and the Midwest regional is the only bracket that really suffered during the first round, where I only have four the eight teams remaining. And yes, I picked Western Kentucky to get by Illinois and Siena to be victorious over Ohio State.

But the Madness. I tell ya. I love it.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin State Journal

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wasn't going to let a third day pass me by

The last two days were gorgeous. Sunny. Temperatures in the mid- to upper-60s. Almost unheard of for mid-March in Wisconsin.

And even though it was gorgeous, I didn't get outside to run. Painful. I wanted to. I really did. But Monday I had a late assignment at work and didn't get home until after dark and last night it was dinner with an old friend followed up with a St. Patty's Day drink with some friends.

And running after consuming green beer? Probably not the best idea.

So it was beautiful and I didn't run.

Today? Not quite as nice. But it was still in the mid-50s and sunny. And a bit windy. But I skeedaddled out of work when the clock struck quitting time. I threw on some running clothes, grabbed my iPod and hit the road.

And it was beautiful. I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoyed running outside. But these last two runs reminded me. Yes, the wind was a bit gusty today, making it harder to run to the north and the west, but other than that, the run felt good.

An added plus? During the 2-mile route I listened to tunes by Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys - two bands I discovered while out celebrating St. Patty's Day last night. Good stuff. Check them out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Splish splashing through the puddles

I don't want to jinx it, but it seems as though Mother Nature is being nice to us here in Wisconsin.

I had to do a double take when I looked at the thermometer today and it was flirting with 50 degrees. And since the sun was out, I knew I had no excuse.

I needed to run outside.

I got ready. Threw on a pair of running pants, a long sleeve dry wicking shirt and layered another T-shirt over the top, put my shoes on and I was set. I grabbed my sunglasses and headed out to the park by the lake that I like running in. I thought it might be a better option than trying to run on the sidewalks in my neighborhood and fight the melting snow piles and puddles.

Turns out I probably should have opted for the sidewalks.

I got to the park and was greeted by mini lakes all along the running path that winds through the park. Hmmm. For a split split second I thought about abandoning the run. But then I remembered. Sunshine. Warm temperatures. Must. Run. Outside.

So I changed my plan a bit, headed out to the street that runs alongside the park and run in the road until those mini lakes disappeared from the path and I could go back to the original plan. I ran out to the point and on the way back, I decided to test the path a little more. Probably should have just gone with the road again since I spent a considerable amount of time running through slushy snowbanks in an effort to avoid the not-so-mini mini lakes.

And those slushy snowbanks, add them to the puddles I did run through and I was left with some pretty wet feet.

I didn't bother to keep track of how long it took me to run the 2.6 miles, but I know it was slow. Blame it on the puddles and slushy snowbanks. That and the fact that my legs were still a bit tired after yesterday's indoor triathlon.

But regardless of the slow time, and the wet feet, today's run was worth it. Because I got to run outside.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

YMCA Indoor Triathlon #2 Race Report

Add another piece of hardware to my collection.

Today was the second indoor triathlon at the YMCA here in town. Remember there was the one in January, the one I went into without doing any training whatsoever and managed to finish third in my age group (I know I reported finishing second, but apparently there was some mathematical errors that knocked me down a place).

Well the initial hope was to get on track at the gym and be able to do better at this triathlon. Well, I did better, but not because I put in hours of sweat at the gym. More like stayed far away from the gym the last three weeks or so.

But I did better. I finished second in my age group - and this time the race director promised me there would be no mathematical errors! So I came home with a shiny silver medal. That makes me a happy Badgergirl.

So how was the triathlon? Not too bad. It was the same set up as in January - an 8-minute swim followed by a 10-minute transition. Then 22-minutes on the bike, a 5-minute transition and a 15-minute run.

I got to the pool today and chose my lane. It happened to be right next to the lane where the hardcore girl from the January triathlon was swimming. I knew she was swimming there, I'm not sure why I chose that lane though. Maybe I was hoping swimming next to her would make me swim harder,or that her speed would rub off on me, especially since I haven't been in a pool in the last month or two.

The whistle blew and I started swimming. I wasn't fast. But I wasn't super slow. Yes, I alternated between freestyle and some backstroke, but I think I ended up doing less backstroke this time around than in January. When the final whistle blew, I had finished 13.5 laps, or 338 yards. Not amazing, but I think it was a little better than last time.

Out of the pool and into transition. I remember thinking I'd skip changing this time and just throw the shorts and T-shirt on over my swimsuit. For some reason I abandoned that plan and went for the full outfit change again. I ended up having enough time, but since my feet were still a little wet, I didn't think I'd ever get my socks on!

The bike went really well. This time I brought my iPod along, so I just plugged myself into my tunes and pedaled. Every so often I'd take one headphone out and listen to the chatter that was going on around me, but mostly I stayed plugged in and focused on my music. A little Kanye West, some Eminem and even a little bit of "Jump Around" by House of Pain got me through those 22 minutes. I pushed myself hard and it paid off because at the end of the bike, I had finished 9.9 miles, a full mile farther than I biked in January.

The transition to the run went smoothly, across the hall and up some stairs. We gathered at the starting line and I chose to hang out in the back of the pack. The whistle blew and the runners took off. Me? I just started running, not at a super fast pace. Just a comfortable pace. I didn't worry when the super fast runners lapped me. Just kept going. Every so often I would pass a runner and I felt good, especially since when it happened, it was usually near the starting line where all the lap counters were. And I'd have the runner in my sights, so I kicked it up a gear or two and ran a bit faster. I ended up running 15.75 laps and the guy tracking my laps told me somewhere between 11 and 12 laps was a mile, so I figure I probably ran about 1.3 or 1.4 miles, which is about what I was expecting.

When every thing was over I felt good with my performance today. Like I said, I've been slacking on the gym trips lately, so I wasn't sure what to expect today. But I felt good. Nothing seemed too difficult and there wasn't that point where I just wanted to stop and die. Actually when it was all over, I could have kept on running. Or biking. Or even swimming.

There were eight girls in my age group and when the race director announced that during the awards ceremony I honestly didn't think my name would be called. But the 11.3 miles I covered during the day was enough for second place, behind the hardcore girl, who logged 11.8 miles.

Bring on High Cliff. I'm not ready yet, but I'm ready to train for the task ahead.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'd say today was a good day

It was a good day.

After working late last night, I got up early this morning for an appointment with the neurologist that's been treating me for the Monster in my head. And I'm happy to report that almost 16 months after the Monster reared his ugly head, I've gotten the all clear.

I've been done with the steroids since mid-October, my last MRI looked good, I haven't been having any major problems with my head aside from an occasional dull headache and apparently whenever I go see the doc she isn't noticing any problems. So I've got one more MRI in June and those results I'll get over the phone and unless something major happens, I don't need to go back to see the neurologist.

* Knock on wood *

After getting the good news from the neurologist I headed over to the YMCA and reintroduced myself to the treadmill. I got in a nice 3.25 mile run and it felt good. I followed that up with some time on the bike, just to remind my legs what riding a bike felt like.

Overall a pretty good day, especially considering that I have a 3-day weekend ahead of me. Three days to relax, watch some Badger basketball fit in an indoor triathlon and gear up for Selection Sunday. It's going to be a good three days.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I need to get back on track

From my office, I can see the windows of the YMCA I go to. And they're starting to wonder where I've disappeared to.

Because in the last three weeks? I've been there maybe three times. Gulp.

Things have happened lately that have caused me to miss my nightly visits to the YMCA. There was the goodness that comes with a new relationship, things that made me choose hanging out with a boy over hanging out with a treadmill. Then there was the whole furlough thing, a week off a work when I spent more time in my car than in the city I actually live in. And let's not even talk about the boy drama from last week. And this week? I find myself at sitting at my desk working the night shift and for some reason I find it hard to jump out of bed and go to the YMCA first thing in the morning.

But I need to get back on track. For myself. My sanity. My well being.

And that whole second indoor triathlon thing that I signed up for. You know, the one that's this weekend. As in three days from now. Gulp.

I'm hoping to start getting back on track tomorrow morning. Even though I'll be at the office late, an early morning doctor's appointment gives me no excuse to sleep in. And after that? I plan to hit the YMCA - spend some time with the treadmill and maybe even the pool (gasp!).

Baby steps. It's all about the baby steps. And Saturday? That indoor triathlon really will be all about having a good time. And finishing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A reading recap

It took me over a month, but I finally finished a book in February. And not just one book, but two.

I'm on a roll people.

After a January that featured no completed books, I managed to finish two in February for 1,333 pages. Big number. I guess that's what happens when you decide to tackle Gone with the Wind. I've got a lot of reading to do before the end of the year if I'm going to reach 40 books though. Hopefully the recap will be longer in months to come.

Anyway. What'd I read? Take a look:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Testimony by Anita Shreve

And if you're dying to know whether Rhett Butler really utters that famous phrase, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." in the book, take a look here. Might save you the effort of having to read 1,024 pages.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A week in a nutshell

Furlough came. And furlough went.

And I enjoyed myself. Had a good mix of friends, family, fun and down time. Probably spent a little too much time in the car driving - about 600 miles and 9 hours - but the end results of those miles were worth it.

Furlough was good.

Then it was back to the working world and reality on Monday. And Tuesday featured an utterly craptastic 24-hours. Tears were shed. Hearts were broken. A Badger was left not knowing what really hit her.

So after all that, I drugged myself before I went to bed to battle a nasty crying-induced headache and made myself face the day on Wednesday. Went into work and I went through the motions. Didn't let myself think too much about the previous day. Just wanted to do the work and get done.

Because after quitting time? I had plans. Plans to revisit the YMCA, a building I had been absent from for almost two weeks. And even though I hadn't run in two weeks and was still battling the remnants of cold, I wanted to reacquaint myself with the treadmill.

I needed to run. I needed to put one foot in front of the other and not have to think about things. I needed to pound out my frustrations as I logged a few miles. And I did. Pushed myself and upped the pace when I got angry. Grasped the hand rails when I felt spent.

But three miles after I started, I felt good. It was 32 minutes worth of chances to let my mind wander and relieve some of the stress that's piled up over the last day. And for just a little while I was able to completely forget about the previous day and how much it hurt.

Too bad I can't just run 24 hours a day. It would make this whole thing easier. But I can't. So I'll just plan on visiting the treadmill again today for round 2. Because it helps.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

One movie that I'll be sure to see

Remember last fall when I played a member of the paparazzi? When Johnny Depp and the Public Enemies crew came and took over my fair city? There was gun fire, chasing buses out into undisclosed rural locations and heck, I even got paid to stand in line to meet the man and capture it all on video.

The release date has been set for Public Enemies. And you can bet that I'll be sitting in a movie theater somewhere on July 1, 2009.

Because the trailer? The one that was released today? It's sweet. And the scene at the end, the one with Johnny walking up with guns in both hands? Totally filmed here.