The Bucket List That Didn’t Get Crossed Off

Way back last December, inspired by other bloggers, I decided to nix the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and instead create a 2012 bucket list of experiences I wanted to have before the year was up.

If you don’t follow through with resolutions, you have failed. Failure is sad. If you don’t follow through with bucket list items, nothing happens.

Nothing especially happens when you don’t get very many of your BL items in the “DONE” category like me.

I did do some things.  Just not as many as I would have wanted.

I’ve decided to keep this sucker running.  I’m working on my 2013 list with 25 new items to be revealed tomorrow.  The rollover from 2012 will stay on there with the hopes that I’ll eventually cross those items off the list.  And as the years progress, I’m sure I’ll establish a pretty decent list of “gotta do before I die which hopefully won’t happen for 100 years” items.

My actual level of BL completion is below, listed item by sad un-crossed off item.

Items categorized as UNSUCCESSFUL didn’t happen or even come close to happening.  Items listed as ATTEMPTED were at least approached with cheerful effort.  SUCCESSFUL items (the few and far between) were ones that I was able to cross off the list.

How Amy Fared on the 2012 Bucket List

1) Get Passport stamp #4: UNSUCCESSFUL.  Though the possibility is MUCH higher in 2013 thanks to some college graduating sisters and their graduation present vacations.  I’m hoping we get invited (hint, hint, Daddy).

2) Pay off credit card debt: UNSUCCESSFUL: I don’t want to talk about this.  At all.  However, still thankful that my credit card debt load is tiny compared to the average American.

3) Ride in a hot air balloon: UNSUCCESSFUL. Shit’s expensive. And I’m kind of scared to go with the cheapest company because I don’t want to die.

4) Run a full marathon: SUCCESSFUL!!! Definitely a lifetime bucket list item.  AND I think I get bonus points for the BQ.  That was also a HUGE bucket list item that I didn’t bother adding to the 2012 list because I didn’t think it would happen for many many years.

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5) Run a race every month: ATTEMPTED.  I ran 10 road races and 1 virtual race, so I missed it by 1. I think doing the smaller ones helped me get better at racing, plus I snagged some age group awards, but the more longer races I do, the less excited I am about paying $10 per mile in a 5-k with no medal and a sad cotton t-shirt.  Sorry.

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6) Compete in a triathlon: UNSUCCESSFUL.  But I think I’m more prepared mentally to take on this challenge in 2013.

7) Learn to swim: ATTEMPTED.  I think I’m closer than I was this time last year.

8) Read my way through Newsweek’s Top 100 Books of all time:  UNSUCCESSFUL. I knew this would take more than 1 year.  I’ve read some books that I hadn’t heard of that I ended up  loving. But I’ve also been stuck on the 180 pager The Souls of Black Folk since August. I read 7 books this year (on the list anyway…I think there were 2 that I’ve picked up that weren’t on the list) which is better than the 1 I read in 2011.

9) Go on a White Water Rafting weekend expedition: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I’m starting to rethink this one.  I was pretty bored after a couple of hours of kayaking down the river in September. Could I really spend 4 days cold and wet with sore shoulders followed by sleeping on the ground for 4 nights?

10) Start dressing my age:  ATTEMPTED. I think some progress has been made. I tried to avoid stores where the majority of salespeople are in high school and I haven’t worn flip flops since it got cold out. I did however walk around Chicago dressed like this, so whateves. Although, maybe wearing black stretchy pants IS dressing my age. Sigh.

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11) Visit a new state: SUCCESSFULGot to experience Illinois in all of it’s finest! And by finest, I mean Chicago.

12) Send a birthday card in the mail to people on their birthdays. SUCCESSFUL. I did this at least twice.

13) Learn how to use my camera and take awe-inspiring photos: ATTEMPTED. I started looking up tutorials on Pinterest.  I’m still not Ansel Adams, but I least I know how to change shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, even if I have no idea what any of them mean. I did get a bokeh photo in of the Christmas tree!

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14) Relearn French: UNSUCCESSFUL. Although I’m listening to the French Cafe station on Pandora right now, so maybe I’m picking up a little bit? However, one of the potential graduation trips might require that I learn, at the very least, how to say, “I’ll take another glass of wine!” in order to get around (“plus de vin, s’il vous plaît!”).

15) Go horseback riding on the beach: SUCCESSFUL. It was fun.

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16) Write a novel: ATTEMPTED: I totally started one! I am 5 pages in.  At least I have the idea and the characters and the general plot line.  Now that the gingerbread house is done, I’ll have more time to devote.

17) Buy a new car: SUCCESSFULAnd I’m in love.  Aside from the fact that I spend twice as much money on gas. 

18) Do a massive house cleaning and reorganization: ATTEMPTED: I think this will happen pretty soon into the new year.  I’ve cleaned out a few closets and drawers.

19) Take the GRE: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I do want a masters degree, but at this point, I don’t know if it would be incredibly helpful or financially responsible.  And I still kinda don’t know what I’m doing with my life.

20) Go to a live music festival. UNSUCCESSFUL. I think this will require choosing one and planning a year in advance.  But with all of these potential vacations and Boston which is quickly shaping up to be as expensive as an all-inclusive week in the Caribbean, I don’t know if this is the perfect year for it.

21) Choose an NFL Team to cheer for: SUCCESSFUL. Though, now I’m questioning my decision.  How can a team go from winning the Super Bowl to scoring once in two weeks???

22) Win something (anything) in a radio contest: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I seriously tried though.  I even put in for a pair of Uggs last week.  I hate Uggs.

23) Invest in a piece of artwork: UNSUCCESSFUL.  Though I have decided that I want an abstract painting with warm colors.  So now I can be on the lookout!

24) Finish a Tough Mudder: UNSUCCESSFUL, mostly because it didn’t happen in Albuquerque like we thought it was going to, however it is scheduled for my birthday in 2013.  I’m rethinking this one because thanks to blog land and some detailed recaps, I’m not sure that I would have the best time.  I mean, cool that you are tough enough to do it, but it sounds mostly miserable. And I could think of better ways to spend a birthday.

25) Figure out what in the world I’m doing with my life and take steps to get there: UNSUCCESSFUL: but 2013 WILL be my year.  I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I still feel like I’m just in a holding area until my life really starts.  Considering I’m about 1/3 of the way through life already (if I’m lucky), I want to at least feel like I’m on the right path.

So, over the course of the year, I successfully completed 7 out of 25 bucket list items.  Here’s hoping that more items get conquered in 2013!

Are you creating a bucket list for 2013? 

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(Half) Marathon Reflection Monday & Other Stuff

WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS TIME!

I will be the first to admit that for me, Christmas time started right after Halloween.  I’ve been watching those high quality holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel, listening to Christmas music, and plotting ways to make this year’s holiday season the best ever.

Aaron has very politely indulged me, even giving up his Saturday nights to watch Eloise at Christmastime and not getting mad when I switch his Pandora station to Christmas music.

But now, my Christmas cheer is completely socially acceptable.  Thanksgiving is over, so I can prance around in Christmas happiness without fear that some Bah Humbug will squash my dreams.  However, I still haven’t put up a tree unlike everyone on Instagram/facebook.  We’re real tree people, so we always wait until December to make sure it doesn’t look dead by Christmas. I’d like to think this makes me slightly less crazy.

Meanwhile, on the running/half marathon training front, things have been going ok.

On Thursday my whole family (aside from my mom who was busy on Operation Thanksgiving Dinner duty) ran our Turkey Trot 5-K.   A few weeks ago I was thinking I was going to use this race as my attempt at a sub 21.  But I got out on that course, fell into a solid 7:00-7:15 pace, and was feeling really good.  I remember what it felt like for me the one time I did hit 21:05, and I decided I didn’t really want to get that awful sick feeling again.  So, I didn’t.  Maybe not the most competitive thing I could have done, but I’m ok with it.  I dread 5-K’s more than anything, and I don’t want to anymore.  I came in at 22:18 (7:10 average pace).  Still better than my last few 5-K times, and definitely a confidence booster than I can run 13.1 miles at a 7:15 pace in a couple of months.  Plus, I think this is my first ever 5-K that didn’t make me want to hurl.

To celebrate the amazing weather we’ve been having (still in the low 60’s during the day) we decided to get one more climb up our mountain on the La Luz Trail.  Typically the top is snow covered and dangerous by late November.  It is a little sad that our weather is so dry that we don’t have any snow on our mountain but it made for perfect hiking conditions. This hike is about 8 miles up a 3,600 elevation gain.  My dad and sister made their way up for the first time!

Yesterday’s long run was a little harder than it should have been after the climb up a mountain.  We had 8 miles on the schedule, so we headed to the most flat course we could find, and knocked them out.  I had an average pace of about 8:38, so I was going a just bit faster than last week.  And definitely minutes faster than I was running a year ago.  I felt pretty fatigued, my face got sunburn, and after we finished, my calves tightened up to a point suggesting I’d run much harder/faster than I really did.  I spent the morning doing some intense rehabbing just to get myself back to walking like a normal person.  But definitely on track with where I want to be right now.

On the non-running front, I’m pretty sure I did something very close to swimming last week! I’m working on a breathing rhythm, and after a few failed attempts (and lots of inhaled water through the nose…very yucky feeling), I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m hoping that with a few more lessons, I’ll at least be able to not look like a drowning abomination on Indoor Tri Day!

Otherwise, our Thanksgiving week was pretty normal:  I baked! (gluten free pumpkin snicker-doodles), two dinners with two families, late night Black Friday shopping, football watching (GO GIANTS!!!), and planning my annual gingerbread house (you can see last year’s HERE).

We’ll take some of that turkey, please!

Muppet Christmas Carol is a Thanksgiving tradition.

Aaron is obviously adopted

Macy’s at about 1:00 am. 

Hope everyone is having a minimally painful Monday!

P.S….there *may* be a giveaway coming later this week! (And by may, I mean I’ve already agreed to do one in exchange for free stuff, so…)

Oh…I Didn’t Think You Were Serious About that Green Shake Thing…

You THOUGHT I was kidding when I mentioned green shakes yesterday.

(I’m not going to lie…I was kind of hoping I was too, but nope).

Aaron has been reading ultra marathoner Scott Jurek”s book Eat and Run and has decided that we are going to start trying some of his crazy so-healthy-it’s-scary recipes.

He looks like he knows what he’s talking about…right?

So, he made a list on a billion little post it notes (we have far more appropriate list  making paper, but whatever) and we headed on what turned out to be a health food expedition to Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Smiths (our Kroger store).  This shopping trip took us a really long time because we had no idea where to find most of these things like miso (tip, not in the Asian food aisle).

I like chocolate chips! 

We also ran into my uncle at Whole Foods who I thought lived in Boulder, Co (?).  He and his wife (who are experimenting with true barefoot running) have been vegan for about 15 years.  He knew all about Scott Jurek’s book and I think he seemed pleased that we were picking up an entire bag of quinoa (I left out the cheesy enchiladas I ate for lunch yesterday).  And apparently he’s working here (living in my neighborhood) and flies home to Boulder ever weekend.  So that was an unexpected run-in.

Anyway, Scott Jurek uses a lot of weird stuff in his food.  What the heck is a aduki bean? And spirulina powder? I can’t say that it smells very good, although Giuseppe seems to dig it. A quick google search tells me it is green algae.  YUM.

We got a whole wheat grass garden! It comes like a chunk of sod. 

So, why am I subjecting myself to this?

Apparently it aids in weight loss, is an excellent source of protein (good for building muscles), boosts the immune system, and is an excellent source of nutrition for endurance runners.

I guess we’ll see.

If you too would like to have your algae boost in the morning, here is the recipe straight from Jurek:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh mango or pineapple chunks
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons spirulina powder
  • 1 teaspoon miso

Aaron also added in wheat grass.

In honor of Halloween, I have deemed this Green Monster Juice!

Bottom’s up! (For the record, it actually tastes pretty good).

Race Shout-Outs and The Non-Food Part of Chicago

Race Shout-Outs

Kelly is going for her BQ this weekend in Detroit! Go, Kelly, go!

Allison’s husband, JP is running the Fall 50 (as in, 50 miles).  And I think I’m cool when I run 26!

Stephanie is running the Army 10 miler this weekend!

And a VERY special shout out to my dad who is running his first half marathon this weekend at Duke City! Just keeping runnnnnning!!!

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Two weeks after the fact, and I’m STILL posting pictures of Chicago.

LOVE the iPhone Panorama feature!

But really, it is THAT cool.  San Francisco will always be my favorite, but Chicago sure tried hard (granted, we weren’t there in the dead of winter…I might not have liked it so much then).

And I know that vacation photo posts are not all that interesting, especially for you folks that live in/around Chicago.  But we took about 500 pictures and they want to be shared with the world!

SIDENOTE: in lieu of souvenirs, we decided to update our “family” photos by hiring a local photographer to take pictures of us in front of local landmarks.  The last time we took professional photos was 3 years ago for our engagement session in downtown Albuquerque, and while downtown Albuquerque is…uh…there, Chicago was too beautiful of a place to NOT take pictures.  As awesome as I am with my Cannon (and by awesome I mean I use auto setting and “no flash” when I’m feeling risky), I wanted to make sure our vacation photos of this fantastic city didn’t all suck.  The professional photos are still being processed, but among them are photos of us in front of the Chicago Theater, in front of The Bean, around Millennium Park, and on a water taxi.  So you won’t see any of that here today.

We stayed at the W Hotel City Center which was a fun place.  They had Bliss bath products, an awesome concierge team, and a lot of little details that made for a fun stay.  For example, they changed the elevator mats 3 times a day to greet you appropriately.  They also had an Acura MDX that would transport you around within the area provided you listened to Acura commercials and provided feedback (I didn’t get off any easier by telling them that I already drive an MDX).

The Architecture Boat Tour that our concierge arranged was awesome! Not only did we get cookies and Starbucks, but a member of the architecture society was our guide, so we learned a lot about the history of the city.

The home of the Chicago Tribune is a spectacular landmark of a building called (appropriately enough) The Tribune Tower that was built in the 1920’s in downtown Chicago. My great great uncle, Rene designed the ornamentation and gargoyles for this building! It was really cool to see the architectural contributions of a family member in person. One of his other works: the Atlas in Rockefeller Center.

Both the Field Museum and Art Institute were worth the visit.  The Field Museum feels like what a museum would have been like at the turn of the century.  Before people had TV’s or computers, pretty much the only exposure they had to exotic plants and animals was in museums.

The Art institute housed such famous works as American Gothic and Sunday Afternoon at the Island of Grande Jatte among thousands and thousands of others.  It was overwhelming.  Also, Bank of America will comp your admission to several museums across the country on the first weekend of every month if you have a credit/debit card from them.  WE GOT INTO THE MUSEUM FOR FREE! I hadn’t ever heard of this program, but I think I will be taking advantage of it.  A full list of participating museums can be found HERE. 

I LOVE this photo! Aaron, having a stare down with the niece.

And we just walked around, taking in the sites of the city.  Chicago is really a walking city, so I had to put on my happy smile as I limped around town in the days before the marathon!  I also packed a lot of cute outfits, but ended up wearing workout clothes and my running shoes for most of the trip! The “L” was a really efficient, cheap mode of public transportation (all the locals said it is super safe too).

We had a wonderful vacation, even though there were a billion other things we would have liked to have seen (Wrigley Field, The Marshall Fields/Macy building, more mafia stuff, the Shedd).  Chicago is a beautiful, clean, and exciting city and we hope to get back there eventually!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

The Start of Taper Madness and Outfit!

Thanks again for all of the encouragement on Monday!  Getting sick this weekend was not the end of the world, and I’m trying to remember that.  Initially I was disappointed that things didn’t go according to plan.  But all is not lost…YET, anyway!

We’re both feeling much better (Aaron is still pretty sneezy, but he is likely also experiencing the allergies that come with the fall season).

We ran 2 and a half moderately paced miles on Monday and our “tapered” version of a hill workout yesterday.  The tapered hill workout felt way too easy to be real.  In half marathon land I would have not been a fan.  But now, it just seemed like we needed to be doing more. Aaron said I had a look of determination as I ran up each set (actually, he said something more along the lines of I wanted to make that hill my bitch).  I guess better late than never to take this marathon seriously? Is this what taper madness is all about?

Since we’re putting in less mileage, we are really focusing on eating clean because putting on extra weight right now will not help us go faster.  Dinner is strictly grilled fish and veggies for the next couple of weeks (YUM…).  This weekend was an “I’m sick so I’m gonna eat whatever I want” situtation, plus, we had a few nights of birthday celebration dinners, so it feels good to eat foods that don’t make my stomach revolt.  Not that I love fish.  I HATE fish.  But it is a necessary evil. And hopefully it will help come marathon day.

I also picked out my mommy-sponsored race day outfit! I’m going with the Lulu pace setter skirt (aka business in the front, party in the back).  I accidentally picked up the “long” version, but I think it turned out for the best because the shorts underneath are longer and don’t ride up. As a rather short person, the long skirt might make me look like a 1950’s cheerleader, but at 26.6 miles, I’d rather not be a chaffed up mess. I also chose the race length cool racer back (shorter than the normal version).  I took both out for a test run, and everything seems to hold up! If I bomb on race day, it won’t be because of my outfit! Thanks, mom!

The skirt has 3 gel pockets which I am happy about! In general, I tend to fuel less often than the every 6 miles/every 45 minutes that is recommended because sometimes (always?) squeezing that little gel down my dry throat just isn’t even appealing.  My plan is to take a Clif Shot at miles 7, 14, and 21.  They do hand out Clif shots along the course and bananas at some point, but I don’t want to risk somehow missing those stations and then not fueling.

In other news, we got our Chicago Marathon “confirmation tickets” in the mail on Monday! This included our bib number and corral information along with everything we need to know about Marathon weekend.  It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever gotten in the mail (close behind college acceptance letters)… and I may have sat there and memorized the booklet! I know I’m stressing and freaking out more than a person should over this marathon, but I am really and truly unbelievably excited. This is really happening, and in just a few weeks, for better or for worse, I will have crossed the 26.2 finish line!

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! 

If Cinderella Were A Runner…

Well, it is back to work for me after a relaxing 4 day weekend.  And we had some Wizard of Oz level wind last night preventing me from getting any kind of restful sleep.  More coffee, please.

But aside from that.

I know this isn’t earth shattering news, but runners are on their feet a lot.  Everything else on the body comes into play while running, but it is our feet that physically carry us through those long miles.

So needless to say, running shoes (and pedicures!) are an important piece of the whole “I want to run a marathon” pie.

As I start getting more and more into longer mileage, I obviously want to make sure that I’m wearing the best shoes for the occasion (no hippy running for this girl…sorry).

About a year ago I did the formal gait analysis at my local running shop (Heart and Sole if you are in Albuquerque and looking to see a video of what your feet do when they run…pretty crazy stuff).

I learned that I am a pronator.  Kind of an extreme one actually.  It has been recommended that I wear shoes that provide a fair amount of support.  I’m also trying to improve my form so that I pronate less.

{Mizuno, Asics, Newton, Asics}

{View from the top!}

I currently rotate between 4 different pairs of shoes for running.  Rotating gives the foam a chance to recover and helps shoes last longer.

The Mizuno Wave Inspire 7’s are nearing the end of their life, so I keep those for shorter distance recovery runs.  The Newton Lady Issacs help improve form, and I currently use them for shorter to moderate distance runs.  The Asics Gel-DS Trainers are slightly less supported and lighter, so those are used for speedwork. And the Asics GT-2160 are my “long run” shoe. (Also, you can tell by the outdated model numbers that I’m a big fan of purchasing last year’s models for cheaper online!).

But here’s the thing.  I do like my Mizuno Wave Inspires (they are probably my favorite).  I do like my Asics.  The Asics Gel-DS are really comfortable for non-running activities.  The Newtons are kind of weird but I feel like a Trendy B when I wear them (walking feels pretty awkward though).  However, loyalty hasn’t yet been established.   I want to try out every possibility in the land to make sure that I am truly going to have my running shoe happily ever after.

The question about which shoes you use came up on #runchat this weekend.  I was able to get some good ideas on what my next purchase might be.  I think I will try out the Brooks Adrenaline based on some suggestions I received.

Brooks Adrenaline

But I’m also looking for some other ideas.

Except for the Vibram Five Fingers shoes.  You couldn’t pay me to wear those (no offense Jon and other Vibram peeps, but your shoes weird me out).

Are you a pronator, a supinator, or a neutral runner?  

Which shoes do you use?  

Would you ever consider the Vibram Five Fingers or do they give you nightmares?  

Are you like me and make it a personal mission to pass as many Five Fingers wearing runners as possible?

Am I the only person who considers how pretty shoes are in addition to functionality?  

Another product I need help with:

Compression Gear.  I have never used it (MAJOR running sin I know) and I know that I absolutely need to start to aid in the recovery process! But I have no idea what to look for in a good compression brand.  PRO Compression seems to be the brand all over social media, but they make me weary because most of the reviews come from sponsored bloggers who receive free stuff.   And I am painfully short, so I need a brand geared toward people who don’t have long legs.

Do you use compression gear?

What brand of compression gear do you use? Would someone half your height be able to fit in them?

Happy Tuesday, y’all! Only 3.5 more days until the weekend!

Drinking Wine, Playing with the Camera, and Pot Shopping

Saturday was National Drink Wine Day!

I honestly don’t know how such an important holiday went under my radar for this long (though it is quite possible that this was the first ever National Drink Wine Day), but luckily I was informed with enough time to celebrate adequately. 

Would I have drunk some wine on Saturday anyway?  Most likely.  Is drinking wine more fun when you are obligated by decree of a national holiday? I think yes.

Saturday was one of the nicest days Albuquerque has seen since fall.  We had blue skies, perfect springtime temperatures, and no wind (unlike today). 

We started out the day with a 6 mile kick-off run. After a month-long break, we have a 10 miler in March and a half-marathon in April to start getting ready for.

Then we headed to our favorite winery hangout, Casa Rondena (where we did our grape harvest and stomp last September), did a quick tasting, then shared a bottle of Meritage in the vineyard. 

The property is beautiful (well, right now the vines themselves aren’t so fabulous). Almost like having a little bit of Napa here in the desert. A friend is thinking about doing her wedding here which will be quite lovely.

I sat back and enjoyed the afternoon while Aaron fiddled with our camera, experimenting with different colors, soft focus, and who knows what (two months after getting the camera, I’m still using auto setting).  I asked him to figure out how to make retro looking pictures.  I think we’re getting closer. At least we’re more aware of the possibilities. Someday, we will understand what all those little icons mean.

{Auto -Setting Aaron}

{Soft-Focus Amy}

{Warm-Toned Amy}

{High-Contrast Amy}

{High Speed Wine Pouring}

{Playing with shadows}

This morning when we were downloading the pictures onto the computer, we noticed that there was a smudge on our lense.  So almost every picture has a little blurry spot. Either that, or we had a little winery ghost following us around. In any case, picture-taking fail.

{HUGE left hand side smudge}

After visiting the winery, Aaron was in a good mood.  I was happily surprised when he pulled into the Jackalope parking lot and offered to buy me a pot for our living room.

A couple of January’s ago, in order to fill the Christmas Tree void, we bought a palm tree type plant, but it has been living in an uninspired, plastic, planter. I’ve been talking about getting a prettier one for a while.

Jackalope is the perfect place to go pot shopping because they have a huge selection.  Plus, you can pretend to be a cultured tourist browsing in a foreign Mercado (they have “global” music blaring in the background) but without the ability to bargain over the price. 

I’m in love with our new pot.  It has just the right amount of imperfections to make it charmingly authentic, and I think it fits well in our living room.

So this weekend has me excited for Springtime.  Being able to hang out outside on a Saturday afternoon and enjoying the New Mexico landscape only made me more anxious for warmer weather.  But first, we’ll have to deal with a few more months of unpredictable storm systems and lots of wind.

Newton’s Magic Running Shoes

Sometimes, I fall head over heels over a pair of shoes. Usually said shoes have 4 inch heels and cost more than my half of the rent check.  But not always.

I had a love at first sight moment when I saw a picture of Newton running shoes in a Runner’s World magazine.  With shoes like that, who cares if they are “functional?”  I NEEDED THEM NOW.

Upon closer research, I found out that they run at about $150 a pair.  Not that I’m above buying shoes that require me to sell various organs. But, considering I get 3-4 months of use out of a pair of running shoes, the price seems a litte unjustifiable when most running shoes are in the $75-100 category.  And, upon even further research I found out that the super cool ones are all men’s models.  The women’s are considerably less exciting.  Just like peacocks or chickens. Not cool, Newton peeps.  Women want crazy colored shoes too.

But I remained obsessed nontheless.

I secretly hoped for a way to test them out before actually having to spend $150.

A couple of weeks ago when we were at the RnR Race Expo, we stumbled across a booth advertising $50 running shoes.  Turns out this store accepts returns within 30 days even if they’ve been lightly tested (kind of like REI).  Normally I’m not one to buy vintage/thrift/used clothing or shoes just because I imagine the worst possible scenario when I think about the previous wearer(s). EWE.

But then, as if a beacon of light shone down from the Convention Center flourescent lighting, I saw a pair of Newton running shoes in my size calling my name.  There was no sign of tread wear. Just two little rejected shoes wanting to be loved.

I couldn’t help myself.  A $100 savings on a pair of shoes that were worn ONCE! Plus, Clorox wipes were invented for this very reason. The nice and knowledgeable sales man got me set up, and I walked away with my (first?) pair of Newtons.  I walked by the actual Newton booth and wanted to brag about my purchase. But I didn’t. I did take a picture though as a substitute. 

Newtons aren’t your average running shoe.   According to the website, they are part of the “natural” gait running movement…like the foot V-whatever shoes, but less funny looking and less minimalist.  The form for natural gait running is slightly different.  And after years upon years of “non-natural” gait running,apparently it takes some time to get used to.

The raised platform on the ball of the foot is the signature Newton component.  It helps keep your stride stay forward (less heel striking, more “natural”), and prevents the shoe from wearing down as fast. 

This is a shoe that you have to work your way into.  The website recommends mile long increments, then 10 minute increments, slowly building up your Newton shoe tolerance for the first 30 miles or so.  Not taking it slow could cause injuries because you are running differently then you normally do.

But then, magic happens.  Less injuries, less sole breakdown, more efficient running. 

I’ve now done 3 runs in my Newton’s, and I’ve gone up to 12 minutes without any major problems.  They are slightly uncomfortable, but probably not any more than any unbroken new pair of shoes.  I can’t decide yet if the little platform feels awesome, like a little launch into the air with every step, or annoying like I have a big wad of gum stuck to the bottom of my shoes. But I really don’t notice it too much.

I’m hoping for big and wonderous things here.  I’m hoping for improved form and better running times.

But really, I’m looking for an excuse to splurge the $150 in order to have the coolest looking running shoes around (hopefully in a different color than these).

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Can you believe it?

In one week from now, the Christmas parties will be over, the presents will be opened, the cookies will have been eaten, and the magic, engery, and excitement will be fading.  I’m trying really hard not to think about it because it makes me sad.

So until then, I plan to cram as much Holiday Cheer as possible into my hours.

We’ve made our wine stop at our favorite winery, Casa Rodena, which was decorated for Christmas!

My house is finally all decorated.

The Christmas shopping is *almost* done.  I only have 1 more thing left to buy. Aaron on the other hand hasn’t even started…. (typical).

The Christmas cards have been sent.  And thanks to my mom the photographer, and Minted the amazing photo card design company, they are looking quite spiffy I must say.

Project Gingerbread house is on schedule to be finished by Friday evening.

Now all I have to do is wrap presents, and watch Love Actually/It’s a Wonderful Life/Miracle on 34th Street/Home  Alone/Eloise at Christmastime/The Polar Express/How the Grinch Stole Christmas/The Christmas Story.  In fact, the only Christmas movies I’ve watched this year (aside from the Hallmark Channel/Lifetime ones) is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and The Holiday.  I have a lot of  catching up to do.

And baking.  My goal is to make 2 varieties of cookies and 1 batch of cupcakes by Saturday. Sometime, in between work, sleeping, half marathon training, finishing my gingerbread house, cleaning the house, hosting some friends for a gathering, prepping some food for said gathering, wrapping, and helping Aaron with his gift purchases, I will do the baking!

Christmas music will be played non-stop unless a Christmas movie is on. Here’s to a very Christmas 7 days left of Christmastime!

The Art of the White Elephant

Tis the season for lots of Christmas parties.  Whether they be office, friend, or family, it seems like our whole December is filled with them. 

Where the idea of a “white elephant” gift exchange came from, I have no idea (I’m sure it would take about 5 seconds on google to figure it out).  Sometimes, the gift exchange is cordial.  You give fancy chocolate sauce, a bottle of wine, or gift certificates to Starbucks.  While the gift is typically useful and appreciated, it is also very boring.

Sometimes, the white elephant is tacky.  The purpose is to hand off some terrible present that you’ve received in exchange for something equally terrible that someone else didn’t want.  Useful, no.  Entertaining, you bet.

We went to one of those last weekend. 

Aaron and I don’t have a lot of terrible gifts in our house, and the ones we do have were given to us by very nice people, and we’d feel bad if they ever knew we gave their treasured gift away in a white elephant gift exchange. So, we had no choice but to head to Goodwill and do some treasure hunting.

I don’t really go to thrift stores too often, but maybe I should start.  Where else could I find some of these amazing treasures! If I ever need a VCR, a figurine, or some vintage 90’s decor, I know exactly where I’m going!  In addition to getting some pretty marvelous White Elephant presents, I got a $6 tennis racket in great shape, and a $1 vase.  Can’t beat that!

This was one of the winners!

This was another winner!

I don’t even know what this is…

One of the rules of White Elephant is that you can steal other people’s gifts, but usually the gifts are so hideous, no one wants to do any stealing.  Apparently that didn’t apply to the ones I chose.  My gifts got stolen TWICE.  First, I was deprived of a genuine Village People Live and Sleezy record. I guess there will be no dance parties at Amy’s house anytime soon.

THEN (and this one hurts), a bottle of rum was stolen from me (the person who brought this obviously thought this would be a cordial White Elephant exchange).  We ended up leaving with a lovely mermaid figurine that is meant for hanging (don’t think that it isn’t!), and a lovely box full of incense should I ever need to conceal certain aromas. 

Lesson learned from all this….Goodwill is a good source of entertainment.  So are white elephant gift exchanges!