Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday training update.

Are these annoying yet? Deal with it, it's only three more weeks or so. (YIKES!)

I have actually been staying pretty close to my training schedule with the exception of Wednesdays. I'm supposed to cross-train on Wednesdays. For whatever reason, I have a really difficult time getting up to go to the gym. I try to fit in some extra walking, but rarely do I make this day up.

One good thing: I ran 3.5 miles without stopping for a walk break on Sunday. That's the farthest I have ever run in my entire life, and definitely something about which I've been patting my back. I triumphantly told this to one of my coworkers who replied, "Good job. You know you have to run another mile and a half on top of that for the Shuffle, right?" What a dick.

I am usually able to do my runs outside without a walk break (not including the times I have to stop for a stoplight which are not significant). However, when I run on the treadmill, I just cannot run my distance without taking walk breaks. I suspect it's boredom-related. YOU try running while only able to watch morning news shows or infomercials.

In any event, I keep plugging along. Stay tuned for next week's update: Training with jet lag!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

True love...honeymoon style.

Oh yes, I'm breaking out all the good Spain stories. Maybe they aren't great, but I have fun telling them.

On our third evening in Madrid, P.I.C. and I went out, as per usual, for some tapas at a local cerveceria. As we had done on the previous night (the aforementioned episode with fino), we were inclined to wander a bit in search of one final drink. We located a Madrid-based brewery (interestingly enough, a German-style restaurant) and popped in for a beer.

We were tired and had to get up to travel to Sevilla the following day so we called it a night after one beer. Sleep came quickly for me until about 4:30 a.m. I awoke with a horrific stomach ache. I had to bolt to our bathroom to vomit. Sadly, this was not a one-time incident. I continued to have to rush to the bathroom every fifteen minutes or so until probably 9:00 a.m. the next day, the time when we had planned to wake up, pack up, and head for Andalucia. (P.S. If you care, I pronounced that An-da-loo-THEEE-a, just like a real Spaniard.)

One brief aside is required at this point. If you have traveled to Europe, you are aware of the size of European hotel rooms. They are rather...efficient. Small. Cozy. THE BATHROOM IS NOT FAR FROM THE BED. So, on my honeymoon, I proceeded to get violently ill over and over again within a few short meters of my newish husband. The poor guy.

We debated staying in Madrid for another day so that I could rest. I, however, am quite stubborn, and never let a little nausea affect my life. (I'm quite adept at functioning with a hangover, thank YOU. I did go to college AND law school.) We packed up our large backpacks and began the ten minute walk to the train station. Well, it was ten minutes when we did it the day before. This day, we had to keep taking breaks for me to sit down and rest. I was so weak from all of the vomiting (et cetera) that I couldn't walk very far without feeling light-headed.

We made it. We made it to the train station. We made it to Sevilla. We made it to our hotel. We made it to our room. I didn't puke once. At this point, P.I.C has kindly offered to visit the pharmacy for me. Our dear friend (who is conveniently from Spain) advised us that pharmacies in Spain are fantastic, the pharmacists speak English, and one will certainly cure me from what can only be certain death at this point.

P.I.C. trekked out to the pharmacy. I wish so much that I might have been a fly on the wall as this went down. I had taught P.I.C. how to say "My wife is sick" in Spanish and then advised him to mime a person vomiting (et cetera). I thought he was just fine. He came back to our room rather flushed and frustrated with medicine. Apparently, she did not speak English. My phrase did not help him. My miming did not help him. Eventually, the pharmacist figured out what probably ailed me (i.e. some sort of a stomach bug) and sold him some medicine. P.I.C. sweetly brought the medicine back for me, a loaf of bread (since I hadn't eaten the entire day) and some water.

At this point, he looks at me and says, "Do you mind if I go get something to eat? I haven't eaten anything all day." What a trooper. He left me to the giant bathtub and my Nook and found a place to sit outside and enjoy a meal, sans sick wife.

So, stomach bug on your honeymoon? Not so romantic. Willingness to mime vomit and diarrhea to a Spanish-speaking pharmacist? That's love.

Monday, February 27, 2012


The other day, the lovely and rather blunt K brought it to my attention that I had promised vacation stories and failed to deliver. She is right, and for that, I am sorry. Here is one funny story from our Spain trip last October. 

We would go back to our hotel room at around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. to wash some of the grime off our bodies and to rest up for what was sure to be a later night out. I'd don my red lips, specially purchased for our trip (you CAN'T go to Spain without your perfect red lipstick I had decided), fix my hair, affix the appropriate scarf to my ensemble and we'd be off in search of something to whet our whistles. We'd probably eat something too. We had become quite fond of stocking our fridge with a supply of ham, cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread for snacking purposes.

One night, we had returned from a day trip to Toledo and then hit a local tapas place for a late bite. Before returning to our hotel, we decided we wanted one more drink, a night cap, if you will. We'd been drinking beer at the cerveceria, naturally, so I thought a rioja (vino tinto, claro!) would be the perfect end to our evening. We wandered around, and finally settled on one particular bar. La Venencia.

I walked up to the bartender and said, "Dos vinos tinto, por favor." She looked me squarely in the face and said, "No. No vino tinto." I looked back at P.I.C. and he just shrugged. I attempted to use my not-good-enough Spanish to order white wine. Based on my brief survey of the bar, everyone had small glasses of white wine. She said to me, "NO. No vino." She then proceeded to tell me WHAT they served, but she spoke ridiculously fast. I shrugged my shoulders at her and she shrugged them back, clearly frustrated with my inability to communicate with her. I wasn't giving up so easily. No way. (It was at this moment that P.I.C. started to get frustrated with the whole situation, thinking that this woman was just refusing to serve us because we were Americans. I, however, was not so willing to give up, and fairly certain that it was just a language barrier, not a discrimination issue.) Finally, I just asked her, "Is it good?" She said, "Si," and then proceeded to say more words I could not understand. Finally, I determined she was asking me if I preferred dry or sweet. Whatever it was, I ordered it dry.

She served it up and wrote directly on the bar with chalk our total. P.I.C. and I picked up our small wine glasses and clinked them together. "Salud," we said to each other, an expression that was very common among our two weeks of sun and fun on the Iberian peninsula. She put a bowl of olives down in front of us (our free tapa). We took sips. My mouth puckered as it reacted to what was most certainly fire water. As I breathed out fumes that most certainly were flammable, I perused the action behind the bar. The bartender was filling those small wine glasses from a variety of bottles, each corked with a rubber stopper. Moonshine? IT HAD TO BE.

"P.I.C. OMG. I can't wait to tell everyone at home we drank SPANISH MOONSHINE. WOOOHOO!"

 It was something much, much stronger than wine. After two sips, I was brave enough to attempt another conversation with the bartender. I asked her what we were drinking (in Spanish, of course). She responded, "Fino." I said, again, bolder by the liquor and willing to make an ass of myself by speaking in Spanish to her, "It's stronger than wine, isn't it." She chuckled and responded, "Of course."

Feeling much less inept at my language abilities, P.I.C. and I stood at the bar and began to look around. The bar looked ancient. There was a thick coating of dust along all of the fixtures. No one seemed to mind. The air was lively with conversation and the smell of olives. We noticed the bartender washing off bottles as we continued to just stand and take in the scene. It appeared that the "fino" was kept in old wine bottles that they would wash out and reuse. Again, I made the determination that fino was some kind of Spanish moonshine.* I didn't hate it. But yes, it was "mas fuerte que vino."

After one glass, we paid our three euros and forty cents. We left our two small wine glasses on the bar, mine slightly smudged with my Spanish red lipstick, and meandered home, not quite in a straight line. One glass of the fino was enough to do us in.

*A tipsy google search once we returned to our hotel room taught us that fino was not moonshine as I had previously proclaimed. It is fortified wine, or a sherry. As our dear Spanish friend told us, "drink lots of it, you'll have a great hangover." We fortunately limited it to one glass. But I'd be willing to investigate a fino headache. I'm fun like that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday check-in!

Another Wednesday, another week of check marks on my training schedule. (I had to print it out. There is something so very satisfying about checking things off, right?)

This week, I have started to feel my motivation waning. I am really, really tired. I don't want to get out of our warm and cozy bed in the morning to go watch the OCD guy on the treadmill next to me take fifteen minutes to wipe down his machine (including the belt) with his own towel after he has sweat out about twelve pounds of water weight. (I know people bitch about gym etiquette, but I just don't know what to say about this guy. He's so bizarre.) I don't want to have to be faced with the realization that I cannot watch Teen Mom 2 that early, that I have to watch either the news or infomercials (seriously, does anyone NOT buy the Proactiv after watching a few of those commercials?).

I ran 3.1 miles without stopping on Sunday for the first time since October. I felt damn proud of myself. Sadly, on Monday, I let my laziness get the best of me. I spent much of the day in the car after placing a long-overdue visit to a dear friend and her beautiful new baby and was exhausted when I got home. Plus, I felt a little baby crazy after seeing her tiny little hands and perfectly-shaped head. (Seriously, she's precious.) I just didn't want to work out.

Yesterday, I sucked it up. I did both Tuesday's workout (2.5 miles) and the strength training I skipped on Monday. This morning, I got up and did my workout too. I wasn't happy. But I did it. I'm rather proud of myself. P.I.C. has taken to commenting on my newer slimmer figure. (This could be an actual observation, or it could be that he finally got it that I need that external validation on a daily basis. Either way, smooth move, P.I.C.)

I'm scared, this weekend I have to run 3.5 miles. I will attempt to do it without stopping. This is something I have never done. Keep your fingers crossed, people!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Infamous and Inquiring Cousin Returns.

Hey, remember this cousin (also highlighted nine or so months later here? She was back in her finest form at my brother's wedding the other weekend. Here are some things that I learned through her now wiser and nearly nine years-old self.

1. I talk about beer too much. When I begged to differ, she informed me that the night before I talked about buying two pounds of beer. Riiiiight. Well, perhaps all of that dancing to no music got to your head, cousin. RUDE.

2. Drinking rum is gross. That's what pirates drink. (It doesn't matter that I was on an island that PRODUCED rum. I was gross for drinking ANY rum.)

3. Sparkly nail polish is the best. (I concur with this particular bit.)

4. Upon finding out that my mom was no longer married to my dad, she wondered why. My mom informed her that my dad had married someone else. Cousin's response? "WHAT. A. JERK. No one should leave a pretty lady like you." (Lesson to learn? She listens to EVERYTHING you say and will regurgitate it and/or inquire further information from you.)

Despite her hinting at the fact that I might talk about drinking too much*, she still makes me laugh really, really hard. She's is one of the funniest kids I have ever met.

*Auntie Em pointed out to me that this was silly. Our entire family enjoys bonding over a beer or seven. Cousin had better get used to it now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A running update!

So I had all of these goals, and one of them was to report in on my training. Ooooops. I forgot last week. Sue me. Just kidding. Don't, please. I have already been sued once and it kinda sucked.

ANYHOW. Let's talk about the important stuff. My training.

Honestly? It's going really well. I'm sticking pretty close to Hal Higdon's novice training plan, which is relatively manageable to me. I miss a day here and there, but have been pretty good about picking it back up. I make up for my missed day with extra cross training one day, or else I swap out my running for a day when I have more time. Face it, Sunday's couch plus PJs party would have lost something if I had gone to run and then showered. No way. I made up for it on Monday.

I actually have impressed myself with my tenacity. I tend to give up with a lot of things. Most "diets" I have attempted in the past don't last because I enjoy a cheeseburger on occasion. (Or white bread. DO NOT make me give up a loaf of crusty white bread. I do not eat it every day, or even often, but damn, I love it.) My fairly recent life changes (since December of last year) have been so good for me.

Exercise is a priority. This training program keeps me on task, but I still feel less me when I don't get my workout. I don't work out for hours on end. That's no fun. I get in and get out (that's what he said?) and then move on with my day. Even when we were out of town. I ran on the beach in St. Thomas. (OK, only once, but we got busy with wedding stuff.) I got up early on the morning of my brother's wedding to get my cross training done. (I had to swim short laps in the tiny pool due to a wholly insufficient hotel gym.) It wasn't a pain to do these things, they are just a part of who I am now. I really, really like it.

This morning, I tried on a pair of nice work pants I had bought probably two years ago. I have never been able to wear them. I zipped them up. They buttoned. THEY FREAKING FIT. So exciting. I have no idea what I weigh now (my bargain gym seems to have lost its scale), but I know I'm down something.

Wanna know the best part? I ate McDonald's on Sunday (hangover cure, naturally). A McDouble? Oh yes. The difference? I have already run over five miles this week.

I WIN. So far, so good. I will attempt to do a better job at reporting progress, I promise.

Happy day-after-Valentine's Day!

We tend to not go out for holidays. Birthdays, yes. Valentine's Day? Nope. I make dinner.

I planned for a relatively easy dinner: delicious cheese and fruit for an appetizer, mussels for the entree, and a side salad with roasted beets, toasted walnuts and goat cheese. Perfect right? Well, until we ate too much cheese. I nixed the salad. Then I realized that three pounds of mussels for two people is entirely too much if you want to eat the delicious heart-shaped double chocolate mini cake from Alliance Bakery you had been salivating over for the better part of a week. (We ate it. It was as delicious as I had dreamed.) I fully intend to post about our meal in my food blog that has been neglected as of late. Sorry. I've been busy.

Sadly, we had to throw out the remaining mussels since reheating shellfish is a bad idea. I suggested leaving a bowl of them outside, but somehow, I didn't think that the guys that troll our dump

Oh, and I should never share a bottle of cava and another bottle of wine with P.I.C. on a school night. My head has been aching dully all day.

We did, however, celebrate our first married V-Day together. It was lovely. We listened to music, braided each other's hair*, and drank wine. It was fabulous. Then again, I had no doubt. Time that we spend tuning out of normal life (i.e. catching up on hulu and bitching about work) and focused on each other is always special. I'm a lucky lady. I think that every day.

Cue the awwwwwws. Sorry, but I had to say something.

* I DID braid P.I.C.'s hair. After a few glasses of cava, we got into a debate about whether his hair was JUST long enough for me to French braid. Guess what? It is. I have, however, been forbidden from displaying the photo I took of my fancy hair fixing. Trust me, it was gorgeous.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Oxford's rough weekend.

Sigh. So while P.I.C. and I were off sunning ourselves in the Virgin Islands, Oxford was at home. He's not much of a swimmer, and he absolutely HATES iguanas. He had to stay home, obviously.

When P.I.C. and I arrived home from the airport at midnight, Oxford seemed a bit off. At first, I thought he was just miffed at being alone, but then I realized he had a distinct odor...of poop. Further investigation led to the discovery that our little guy had not only pooed himself and gotten it stuck in his fur, it had really morphed into a bad situation. As in, I could see his little kitty business sans fur, bad situation.

To the ER vet we went, smelly cat in tow. (Seriously, what were we feeding him?) A shave of the butt, a dusting of Gold Bond, some pain meds, and antibiotics administered, and he was discharged. He has been steadily improving, is off the pain medication (thank goodness) and seems to be back to his usual lovable self. I'm so relieved.

I felt like a bad kitty mom, but during the follow up visit to our usual vet, he assured me that these things happened and that I could perhaps consider getting him sanitary trims. Sanitary trims = shaving of the butt hair. Really, it's like a cat Brazillian, which Oxford is sporting right now.

What can I say, he likes to live right on the edge.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, some photos from our most fabulous trip to St. Thomas.

Drinks out of monkeys? SIGN US UP.

A view of the Soggy Dollar Bar...we swam ashore...hence the name!

The view from our balcony. Not bad at all.

One of the cutie duck-like creatures that were on the beach. I named this one Frank.

Second floor on the end was the vacation home of the Awkward Family for the week. We were sad to say goodbye.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Big goals this year.

Alright, I have a confession to make. I DID make resolutions for the new year. I wrote them down on a yellow sheet from my legal pad and put them in my desk drawer at work. Every day I remind myself of them.

One of those goals is to run an 8K and a 10K. I have done many 5Ks. Truth be told, they aren't easy for me. Running has gotten easier, but those 5Ks still get me. In any event, for the upcoming 8K, I have decided to train. I want to do it well. I want to improve my speed. I don't fool myself into thinking that I am going to ever be a fast runner. But ya know what? I will improve because I need to keep challenging myself. NO LAZY ATTITUDES HERE. (That's actually hilarious to me because I am really quite lazy. Well, maybe not as much as I used to be. But still. Quite lazy.)

Last night I started my training for the Shamrock Shuffle. Yeah, yeah, it's a crowded race, it snows half the time, blah blah blah. I have heard all of this. I, however, am one of those people that needs goals. I need an endpoint to motivate myself.

I guess I feel the need to write about it to keep myself accountable. Here is my plan: each week I shall post once about my "training." Hold me accountable. Let me know if you're training too! We can motivate each other.

'Til then, see you on the roads. (Or the treadmill. This is winter in Chicago, after all, despite recent warm temperatures.)