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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Daisies Are Bloomin'

Here's the back garden this week.  A few days of rain and warmth and things are exploding.  It's a relief to know I planted bulbs correctly ( when they don't come up, I figured I planted them upside down) since they are starting to pop up.  


There is something about seeing the seeds I planted finally showing some life that brings out the child in me.  I love to see it all happen right in my very own yard.  I think I may have missed my calling in life--to work with plants and flowers in some way.  Not at a garden center, or a nursery, but somewhere in the botany field.  For now, I am content to show what's growing in my yard:








The daisies are going crazy.  I may be sharing some with friends again this year.  My pink peony is thisclose to blooming, and my lillies are growing fast.  My irises are close to being done--I have some purple by the garage that smell like grape jelly.  I love them, but they have such a short blooming life.


As far as veggies go, my tomato plants are getting bigger, and the herbs are in a race to see who can grow the fastest (I think the oregano is winning).  Can't wait to pick some basil and make a great salad with it.  C-Joy put panzanella in my head yesterday, so that may be on the menu soon.


Mother Nature has gifted me with enough helicopters  to form an army and take over the world.  I am done with sweeping, picking, and tossing them in the yardy.  Helicopters, you are safe from me.  You won. For now.   Just remember I will be ripping you out of the ground later this year as you try to take over my yard with your little trees.  Little shits.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ennui Day

Well, the weather people have promised tomorrow will be sunny and steamy with high humidity and 85 degree temps.

That is much different than today, which is full of crazy severe thunderstorms, high wind, and pounding rain.  When your honey calls to tell you the street lights are on at 8 AM in May, then you know it's gonna be a bit stormy for awhile.


I have the day off, and since running outside is out of the question (I can hear things blowing down the street!), that means I probably should go to the Y and ride the bike, do the elliptical, and probably some weights.  Since the gym doesn't open til noon, I still have an hour to goof off and keep up the mantra "you will go to the gym at noon." 


I have not been running much since last weekend--shame on me!  I ran a few short miles on Tuesday, and managed to bruise the top of my foot by not having the tongue on my shoe in the right spot.  Dammit, that hurt!  Life has just been a bit overwhelming this week, so between that and rain happening at bad times, my running has suffered.  You can bet I will be up early tomorrow to go run; I can't wait!  If the weather cooperates later today, I will try to get in a quick run.


I talked to Cole the other day, and he says he would run another 5k with me some day.  How quickly we forget the pain of that 3 mile run!  I looked into doing a duathalon with Bud in August.  He would ride the bike, I would run before and after the bike ride.  He said he would think about it, and then I found out the price:  $85.00  That is insane!  I would rather spend that on a hotel room and go away for the weekend.  So no duathalons for us in the future. 


 For those of you who run, don't you think races are getting a bit too expensive?  


Even if I did have every weekend off, I could not afford to run a race each weekend; it has become pick and choose time for me.  One a month (hopefully with increasing mileage each time)  til half marathon time in November.


I did get bulbs planted, seeds in the ground, and most of the patio furniture out.  Now if the weather will cooperate, I can paint the railing around my front porch, seal the front porch floor, and continue to wage my war against creeping charlie.  I have killed a lot of it, but I need to step up the operation and bring out the big guns.  I will be wearing my flame retardant suit, goggles, and kick ass boots to purge my yard of the evil that is creeping charlie.  I think a flame thrower would work.   I just may be able to grow some grass by the end of the summer.  I still need to work on the garden over at Bud's place.  We are scaling down this year, and only growing peppers, zucchini, squash, and a few other veggies.  Neither of us has the time to maintain a huge garden this year.  I feel like the summer is already getting away from me, and it hasn't even begun.

Everyone have a great week!  I promise a more interesting blog next time :)  And I have no idea what the heck happened to the font on this post.  Perhaps it's the weather?!



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Runnin' With Cole

I mentioned to my nephew Cole about a month ago that I was going to do a 5K race at the end of May, and he informed me that he was in the running club at school and could run 2 miles.  He seemed interested in running the race with me, but I just didn't mention it again, thinking A) he wouldn't be ready, and B) being 11 years old, he wouldn't remember our conversation.


I was wrong.  He did remember.


Cole called me Thursday night and told me "Aunt Susie, I want to do that race."


After handing the phone over to his mom (my sister, Pam) she  said that yes, he had been talking about the race all week, and on Friday was doing a school wide 5th grader 3 mile run.  She said he could do it if he wanted to, so I signed him up for the race.  And then did not sleep at all Thursday night.  


Early this morning, the sky was really grey after a night of rain, and it was humid out.  We met near the race start--Bud with his bike and my camera, and Pam with Cole and her camera.  He was ready to go--but maybe not too awake yet.  It is, after all, a Saturday and he had to get up early for no good reason!
Before the sweaty race


So the race starts, and I tell Cole once again to stay a bit slow on the first mile, so he has energy to finish the race.  "Uh huh," he says, as he proceeds to run in front of me and quickly out of sight.  I was busy keeping calm and focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other.  I was also very aware of Bud riding his bike on the sidewalk, keeping an eye on me.  I was determined not to walk.  I kept trucking along, a bit slowly, but still moving, and didn't see Cole for awhile.  Then I saw him up ahead, caught up, and saw his mile sprint had worn him out.  He was pooped, but kept moving, alternating running and walking.  I was fully prepared--and hoped--he would blow past me and beat me by minutes, but I finished ahead of him, with just enough time to turn around and see him coming down the street.  I was jumping up and down and yelling and waving, and I must admit I cried a bit to see him running towards the finish line.  I was so proud of him, although I think he may not run another race for a very long time.  I think I broke him.  Oops.  Aunt Susie strikes again!


Little peanut running hard towards the finish line




Anyway, I ran the whole damn thing, which made me very happy.  It was a big mental boost for me, since this is the first race I have run in a very long time.  I have decided to run the 5K Run the Flood Race on June 11th rather than the 7 miler just because I know I will not be ready to do it and would rather see if I can improve my 5K pace.  Then the 5 mile 4th of July race in downtown Cedar Rapids, and slow progression towards the half marathon in November. 


I forgot to shut off my Garmin when I crossed the finish line, so it's not accurate in time.  My printout from the race is as follows:  gun time:  34:28  chip time: 34:05  Pace: 11:06.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Garden Photos: What A Difference A Week Makes!

I've been working in the back garden this morning, and my obsessive-compulsive side kept me pulling, digging, and ripping out plants and weeds for a good two hours.  My back is a little pissed at me.  After taking some time to just look at my garden, I saw so many things that put a big smile on my face.  Looking at the photos from an earlier post, I am amazed at how much my garden has changed in just a short time.  I still have a lot of work to do, and seeds to plant.  I have to buy more dirt, and build up parts of the garden that have sunk a bit over the years.  I still have to work on the garden at the side of my house, pulling out unidentified plants so I can plant some four o'clocks and give the lilies I have planted there some place to grow without being choked out of existence.


But here, for now, is an update on my back garden:


Just a few weeks ago....
Daisies almost ready to bloom...

Teeny Tiny Hostas...

Are now HUGE!





FYI: World Ends Saturday!

Get the 4 pretty ponies of the Apocalypse here


This is what I've learned about the End Times that will be occurring on Saturday, May 21st:


Pets will be left behind, but there is a service to take care of them.  


An earthquake will start the destruction at 5PM Central Standard Time.  This means I still have to run my 5K in the morning.  Dang it.


97% of all people will die.  Ok.  Who wants to survive that?


God will only take the 'chosen ones' to heaven.  No thanks.  I don't want to be stuck in eternity with uber crazy  people who think they're more special than the rest of humanity.  I'm pretty sure I won't be a 'chosen one'.  Phew.


I won't make my 100 book challenge this year. 


Here are my questions:


Does this mean that a zombie apocalypse is off the books?  


Should I go ahead and plant my flowers seeds anyway?


Should I just lay around, drink beer, and eat whatever I want for the next few days?  


Can I say whatever I want to customers at work tomorrow, since it will be my last day of work before the world ends?


Does this mean Obama's birth certificate just doesn't matter? Finally?!




Cheers everyone!  The man who says the bible picked 5/21/2011 as judgement day also picked 1994 as the end of the world.  Oops.  Eventually he may get it right, but I don't think it's Saturday.  Send the four pretty ponies of the Apocalypse back! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain

After two days of inexplicably HOT weather, Mother Nature decided to screw with our heads once again and dropped the temps by 40 degrees and sent rain for most of Friday and all of Saturday.  I went from air conditioning to switching over to heat in the span of one day.  It is chilly and damp outside.  My pansies are singing with joy.  Something dug into my container of basil, so I had to replant one of them.  If I see what did it (are you listening, Mr. Squirrel?!) I will nail it to the front of my house.  Consider yourself warned.  Don't f**k with my basil!


I was talked into running the route of the Marion Arts Festival 5K on Thursday after work, and can I say I suck air?  I forgot to set my Garmin until we'd run almost a mile, so it wasn't as accurate as I would have liked. I had to take walk breaks.  My running partner, who runs about 4 minutes faster than I, was not even winded and probably could have gone another 10 miles.  Needless to say, I will be working on my running this week before the race next Saturday.  I probably should go and run today, but quite frankly, I'm tired, it's been a very long week, and the rain has reduced pretty much any trail I run on into a big muddy mess.  I will start again on Monday.  


So I'm taking a mental day today.  I will do the minimum to function like a human being.  Dishes--well yes, I have to do them.  They've been sitting in the sink for two days.  Laundry?  Maybe one load.  Laying on the couch, reading and watching TV?  A distinct possibility.  Catching up with my friend?  Heck yes.  Making a cozy dinner for two later on?  Of course.  I don't think of cooking as a chore.  I think this will be the last chance for a wintery supper before Spring/Summer settle in for the next few months.  


I have planned my half-marathon training.  According to my calculations, I start training in mid-July for my November race.  It is going to be very difficult for me to stick to a plan, but I'm just going to focus on one day at a time.  Jeff Galloway's plan calls for 3 days of running, with cross training on other days.  I may run an extra day, who knows?  Until then, I will do my own thing and bike, run, and try and get some weights in each week.  I will be writing in my running journal (which has been ignored this past month) and can't wait to see what progress I make over the coming months.  


Lots going on this month, both personally and at work.  My blogging may not be as frequent, and I may not get to read everyone's blogs, but I'm still checking!  It is an oasis in a world of crazies.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Random Things

The weather has taken a decided turn to summer for a few days.  Yesterday it hit 90 in Cedar Rapids, and today it will be in the mid 80's--all with high dew points.  That means my favorite thing (insert sarcasm)--humidity--will be visiting.  We'll also have big booming thunderstorms, which are even now gathering strength and forming out in Western Iowa and moving my way.  


It annoys me that I had to put my air conditioning on yesterday.  Considering it was 85 in my house, well, I should have turned it on sooner.  But it's now much cooler inside, and will stay on through today.  The temps are going to be moving down into the 60's and 70's after today, so it will be that magical place where there is no heat or air required in the house.  A few weeks of a cheaper gas bill!  


Yesterday was a fun, sweaty, hard working day.  I got up at 6 AM to go out and run, since I knew it was going to be very warm and humid.  It was also my nephew's 11th birthday, and I wanted to stop at his house before school and drop off his present.  He lives just around the corner from my favorite place to run.  After waking him up and wishing him a happy birthday, I went for my run.  I tried to do a 3:1 run/walk ratio for the first mile, and I did okay.  But I think the humidity was a bit of a shock, and I found myself feeling like I'd been beaten up after only one mile.  I slowed down to a 2:1 ratio for the next two miles.  This means 2 minutes of running, one minute of walking.  I can say I was a bit disappointed at my time.  I did not speed up when I was running.  Needless  to say, I was dripping sweat when I was done.  


After that, it was off to buy tomato plants and some herbs for my container garden.  I couldn't resist some flowers, either.  Back to the house, changed my shoes, and outside again.  I managed to get my herbs and tomatoes in their containers, but also managed to smear dirt all over my face, neck, and legs.  I mowed the yard, planted a few bulbs, and weeded.  By now, I was exhausted and my clothes were drenched.  I smelled icky, too.  


After cleaning myself up, a trip to the grocery store, and a long completely unconscious on the couch hour nap, I felt better.  Oh, my legs are sore!  Now today I need to finish planting flowers, do a bit of digging in the garden, and try to lay down some top soil to build up the areas of my garden that are a bit low.  


And running?  I'm gonna try and get that in, too.  I love to run just before a storm.  The atmosphere is exciting and I like to look at the changing sky, all the while hurrying before the storm breaks.  Here's a picture of me and Jeff Galloway from Friday night's book signing:


I have to sit down, read through his book, and map out my runs and what do to when.  And figure out when to start my half marathon training.  I think probably the end of June or the beginning of July.  In the meantime, I will use Jeff's speed and hill work to improve my time.  I know it will improve by just running more often each week.  The weather really does effect my runs.  If it's too hot or humid, I have no energy, and I get headaches.  I try and run early in the morning if I can, and avoid the afternoon.  But at the same time, I will try and run in the warmer weather sometimes so it's not a complete shock if I have to run a race in those conditions.  I am waiting for the day when I can complete a run and not feel completely wiped out afterwards.  Hopefully Jeff's program will get me there!


Bud and I finished watching Season 6 of Weeds last night.  I burst out laughing at the last episode.  Have you seen it?  Guillermo, who is a nasty killer, is at the airport with Nancy.  She asks him what the hell is he wearing on his feet?  The camera pans down, and he's got on Vibrams!  He says he is training for a half marathon and loves the shoes.  She continues to tell him he looks like an idiot in Vibrams throughout the rest of the show.  Even Mexican Ex-Con Assassins are into the minimalist running movement.  


I also got a visit from two young girls in the neighborhood.  On May 1st, I found a small basket with candy and a note on my front porch.  I saw the girls running away, and thought maybe they thought there's a child at my house.  But last night, as Bud and I watched TV, I saw someone out on my porch.  I think they were ringing my doorbell, which hasn't worked in 10 years.  They then knocked, and ran away.  When I opened the door, Easter candy and a little water globe sat on my porch.  Bud told me to peek around the corner of the house, and when I did, there were the two little girls.  So I talked to them, asked them their names, and asked them why they were leaving presents on my porch.  They said they did it because they were bored.  Hmm.  I said, are you sure you want to give these away?  And they said yes!  So we chatted for a bit, and then they left.  I guess I have two little friends.  It's kinda weird. I can only think that they came here on Halloween and for some reason have targeted me as a person to give candy to.  I must look like I need some sweets.


I'm off to plant some flowers.  The sun is shining, it's muggy, and I'm ready to sweat.  I'll post some pictures of the garden soon, after everything is in place and starting to grow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What's New?

It was a very busy weekend, and I am pooped.  Of course, I have a huge list of to-do's over Tuesday and Wednesday but while I am raring to go today, tomorrow may be another story.  It's supposed to be close to 90 degrees tomorrow.  Today, it was supposed to be in the low 80's, but a really freaky weather system is making it cooler with random storms and occasional hail moving through the area.  It is so gloomy outside, and now wet, that my plans to mow the yard before work  are shot for today.  Add that to the list tomorrow!

We had running expert Jeff Galloway at our store Friday night for a discussion and book signing.  I was super excited to meet him, and I asked Bud to go along with me to hear what he had to say.  If you don't know who Jeff is, he is a former Olympian who writes for Runner's World and travels around the country running marathons and conducting schools for his run/walk/run method.  He's taught tens of thousands of people this method, and has proven that it works.  I believe in it, but it took Bud sitting and listening to the whys from Jeff to convince him that trying to run a race fast and furious, with no stopping to walk,  can actually be detrimental to your running health.  I admit it is hard to wrap my brain around the idea of taking scheduled walk breaks, but if making a complete mind shift will keep me healthy and able to finish races feeling good and uninjured, with rapid recovery time that doesn't require ice baths and all sorts of medication, well, I am on board for trying it.  I know the results of not listening to my body, and I really would like to finish a race and not limp home to a day or a week of recovery.  

On Saturday, I attended a seminar Jeff put on about running until you're 100.  He gave us some very good information about food intake--super important for my intestinal issues when I have a long run of 10 miles or more.  I am going to follow his half-marathon plan, and using his 3 day running plan, make sure I am doing my speed and cadence drills each week.  I am inspired and excited to try this.  It feels like a door that was previously locked has been flung open, and all I have to do is step through to a world where running is not only enjoyable, but injury and gut issue free.  I'd like to be like Jeff, who's in his 60's, and runs a full marathon every month.  Yes, one a month--that's 12 a year.  And he doesn't run them slow: his best time was 2:16:35!  He says people are always surprised at his marathon times because he takes walk breaks.   I can't wait to run my half in November, and put his method to the test.  Until then, I will use the information I learned Friday and Saturday to improve my running and get my mind in a place of positive thinking.  And for those naysayers who think taking a walk break during running makes you weak somehow, well, worry about how you run your race, and I'll worry about how I run mine.  We both get to the same place and cover the same miles.  Having the energy and the refreshed legs to run faster during my running times will improve my overall time.  That's what walk breaks do.  

So what's on tap this week?  With the weather finally cooperating, I'll be planting my herbs and tomatoes in pots, planting summer bulbs and seeds, and moving the summer clothes into drawers and tossing out a lot of the winter stuff.  I feel the need to detrash and pare down not only clothes but just a bunch of junk around the house.  This may require a small dumpster!

Also, visit my other blog Bookalicious Babe to enter my gift card giveaway to celebrate reaching book #50 in my 100 Book Challenge.  I'll be picking a winner next Monday, May 16th so you have a week to enter.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You Know You're Tired When...

You're too tired to get up and go to bed which in my teeny house is only about 20 feet away from where I am sitting now.  It may as well be across the Sahara.


You pause in whatever you are doing to watch a TV commercial about a vacuum that swivels around corners.  Fascinating!


Eating malted milk Easter eggs is your idea of dinner.


I'm too tired to read!!!  Yes, Hell has frozen over and there's a flock of pink pigs flying by my window.  This too shall pass.


You stop drinking a beer to make a cup of tea instead.  Comfort in a cup!


I can't stop staring....help me!


While you love your man with every fiber of your being, you are glad to be home by yourself so you can sit and stare at nothing for minutes at a time.


The staring is done in sweats and a ratty t-shirt.  Holding a cup of tea.  Wrapped in a blanket.  


You think your alarm clock is set, but just don't care enough to check.  Your tired mind is convinced you will wake up in plenty of time to eat breakfast, get ready for work, split wood for the wood cook stove in your kitchen (not really--just a gas stove), churn some butter, and sew all your clothing for the next year. 


See, I told you I was tired.  Good night all!







Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Boost of Confidence and a Thumbs Up from Bud

I thought today was supposed to be sunny and in the upper 50's.  Instead, it is cloudy and when I went for my run this morning, it was in the low 40's.  Needless to say, I paused in my shorts, tank top, and light  jacket, thinking I was a bit careless running in cool weather without at least something a bit warmer on my legs.  But, I had already been to the gym and was warmed up and was too lazy to change. It's amazing how soft I've gotten in my 40's.  I used to run in this cool weather in shorts and a tank all the time.  What a weenie I've become!


It was a bit cold on the legs at first, but then they went blissfully numb quickly and soon enough, I didn't feel the cold air.  I had forgotten about that wonderful way the air just kinda flows around your legs instead of hitting it.  It sounds weird, but it's true--bless those legs for being tougher than I remembered! 


Anyway, I am stupidly happy with my small victory:  I ran 2 miles without any walk breaks and no painful side cramp or breathing issues.  The only thing that stopped me from 3 miles was my desperate desire to pee.  That's the bad thing about running in the cool weather--more potty breaks.  I was quite sure I wouldn't make it another mile with my bladder putting the squeeze on me, so I decided to call it a day after only two miles, but I was so happy with my accomplishment.  For once I didn't feel like I was carrying a bag of concrete on my chest, and my feet felt good (no numbness), my legs weren't tired, and I could breathe pretty well.  I sent Bud a picture of my Garmin with the time and pace, and he called me cause he couldn't read it (note to self:  learn to take better picts with the phone!). He was very happy with my no walk break, and said it didn't matter how long it took me to run.  I am trying very hard not to pressure myself into running faster. With an extra 20 pounds on my frame, I just cannot run 10 minute miles like I did when I first started running.  It just makes me feel bad and hate myself.  So, I was a good girl, and just concentrated on being happy with my accomplishment today.  


I am really enjoying my Garmin.  I can't get Dailymile to sync it, though.  It is very annoying.  I guess it doesn't sync all the Garmins just yet.  I like that it keeps me honest, and takes all the guess work out of time and distance.  And keeping a history of my runs lets me see how I can improve on any course I choose.  Like I said before, it's one of the best gifts I've ever gotten.  I will use it to death! And best of all, the wristband is designed to fit even the smallest wrist comfortably and without having to poke holes to make it fit better.


On another note, I got the course route for my half marathon in Savannah, GA  on November 5th.  I am so excited--it's through the historical district.  I imagine I will be so involved in looking at everything around me that it will keep my mind off of actually running.  After today, I am less stressed about running it, and more at peace with the knowledge that with a Summer and Fall of training (both running and weights) I will be prepared and run my best.  And with two of my sisters there to see me at the finish line, I expect this to be one of the happiest races I've ever done.  You can bet I will be eating a large lunch with a boozy drink after that!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 1st Garden

Today was first lawn mow day.  That means for the next 5 months I will need to mow at least once a week.  I don't like to mow, but I do like the end results.  A freshly mowed lawn goes with a refreshing shower, a good meal cooked on the grill, and a cool drink on the porch.  


I've decided to take pictures of my garden(s) on the first of each month during the summer, and then whenever I feel the urge to snap photos of the changing flowerscape.  Right now there isn't much, but here's my garden/yard on May 1st:












The daisies have spread everywhere, so some will be dug up and transplanted to other loving homes.  There are lots of weeds to pull, and many goosey-heads to yank (they have spread over the whole back of the garden and must be culled!).  So we'll see where I plant my seeds and bulbs for the summer.  Can't wait to start planting and see some color.