Tropical storms

Day two in Florida.  Of course, all day I was in meetings, from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm.  Boooring.

I did manage to sneak outside for a little while at lunch to enjoy the Florida sunshine!  The view from this hotel is absolutely incredible.  I found some nice lounge furniture and kicked up my heels and read for awhile.0603 001

0603 002 0603 003 0603 004

All in all, I have been fairly happy with the conference food.  The options have been reasonably healthy!  Of course, I’ve forgotten to photograph them.  So, imagine the following:

Breakfast:  Coffee.  Pineapple, canteloupe, strawberries, blackberries.  Banana nut mini-muffin.  Scrambled eggs.

Lunch: Minestrone soup.  Salad with spinach, grapefruit sections, blueberries, and a vinaigrette dressing.  About a quarter of some kind of flank steak wrap.  Tiny square of cookies n’ cream cheesecake.  (SO GOOD.)

Snacktime was provided.  I resisted, even though it looked pretty good.

pro_vab_101I wasn’t REALLY hungry.  I had my third cup of coffee for the day instead.  (Yes, I’m in caffeine overload.  I’ve also been drinking a ton of water—when I’m bored, I drink!)

Of course, by the time we were free for the afternoon and evening, torrential rain and thunderstorms had started.  My plans to relax on the beach were foiled. 

0603 005

Boo.  Hiss.

The planned dinner event was a four hour dinner and booze cruise.  I skipped it.  The thought of spending four hours on a boat on the stormy ocean didn’t sound appealing.  I totally would have gone if the weather had been nice and I could sit outside with a glass of wine and see the sights, but…staying inside in the pouring rain didn’t sound fun.

Instead I decided tonight called for some greasy pizza and trashy TV!  A total “me” night.  Completely unhealthy…but a little pizza once in awhile is fine by me.

0603 006

I am taking the day off running—I’ve run Sunday-Wednesday this week, and I have tomorrow afternoon off, so I’m planning on resting today and doing a “long” run tomorrow.  (Not THAT long yet—I’m hoping for 6 miles or so.)

In other news…we got the exciting news today that we’re going to be Aunt Brie and Uncle Tim to a BOY in October!  I’ve already been scouring Etsy for cute boy stuff.  I can’t wait!

What’s your favorite kind of pizza?

Another fun wedding project

T and I both have big families.  My dad was the oldest of 7 kids and my mom is in the middle of 5, and T’s mom is also the oldest of 7 and his dad has 2 siblings.  Somewhere along the way, I saw a wedding picture where the couple had displayed tons of old family wedding photos with labels.  I thought that was a great idea and would be fun conversation piece for people to check out during the cocktail hour.
T’s mom and dad were visiting this weekend, and she happened to bring me a CD of pictures she’d found and scanned.  She is really into geneaology, so she thought this project was really fun.  I thought she was just going to bring pictures of the aunts and uncles and whatnot, but she REALLY took this seriously and found pictures going WAY back for us.  And obviously, I think they’re awesome and I had to share some of my favorites!

These are T’s great-great grandparents on their wedding day–April 4, 1888.  They got married in Chicago, just like we will be.  Can you believe it?

Christine&Philip Breyer 4.4.1888

These are two pictures of T’s great-grandmother in 1911.   (I’m keeping these pictures large so you can see the incredible details in them!)  I LOVE this wedding gown.

Katherine O'Dowd Dark 11.14.11

Katherine O'Dowd Dark2 11.14.11

Here’s another set of great-grandparents in 1920.

Henrietta&Lawrence Campbell 10-6-1920

Here’s another one of T’s great-grandmothers,working the flapper-style wedding look in 1923.  Doesn’t she look so happy?

Isabella Breyer Dolan 6.30.23

These are T’s grandparents on their wedding day in 1949.  According to his mom, she wore a blue velvet dress instead of the traditional white!  (T’s mom was born on their first anniversary!)

Phyllis-Harry Dark 10.29.49

And finally, look who I found in one of the more recent family wedding photos?

Joan-Ed Harter 7.6.91(2)

That would be T, on the left at age 7, and his brother and our best man, on the right, at age 11.  Precious!

What do you think?  Thumbs up?

I’m back!

Phew.  That weekend was absolutely nuts.  I don’t even know where to start!  I’ll probably chunk this into two posts, so it doesn’t get too long!


I will keep this short–nothing too exciting happened Friday, except we drove 9 hours to get to Chicago.  We stopped at the World’s Largest Truck Stop in Iowa, and arrived at my mom’s house (she lives elsewhere because of her job) to find several dead smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector batteries chirping.  We took down two smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector before the annoying noises stopped.  Then I gave T a fashion show of my old prom dresses.  Look, it’s too big!

chicago 002

I still kind of like this dress, if I ever had anywhere to wear a florescent orange/pink gown.  T thinks it’s hideous.  But, whatever.


T and I woke up bright and early for our sisterly 5K.  My sister and I exchanged texts before she came to drive over with us and I believe they involved the words “cold as balls.”  It was!  When I woke up, it was 28 degrees, and only warmed up to 32 by the time the race started.  Brr.

T kindly served as race photographer.  Here’s me and my big sis before the race, numbers 7 and 8:

chicago 005

I have to say, I was super impressed by this long sleeved running shirt.  As usual, it’s C9 by Champion from Target, and I LOVED running in it.  When we were waiting for the race to start, it really kept me warm, but it was nice and cool along the race.  Gear-wise, my only regret was that I didn’t wear a pair of gloves.  My hands were frozen by the end of the race, especially after I spilled water all over at the only aid stop.  I didn’t run with an iPod, either, for the first time!

Here we are at the starting line:

chicago 007

I can’t really break this into miles, per se, because there weren’t mile markers along the route.  But chronologically speaking…what I assume to be the first mile was pretty standard.  My sister told me her plan was that we’d pace together for the first 20 minutes, and then she was just going to sprint it to the finish.  (She’s generally a bit faster than me.)  We both regretted not starting more towards the front of the pack, because the race was on a fairly narrow trail and we had to pass a lot of people.  Anyway, the first third of the race was nice.  We ran on a trail full of pretty fall foliage and a bit in a quaint downtown suburban area.

The second mile, or what I think was the second mile, was a little tougher.  My sister and I broke away from most of the runners and were in probably the top third.  It started to get windy and hilly.  The path was kind of boring but it was fun running with my sister.  At one point, she saw a hot guy on a bike and started to sprint!  It was really funny!  She was also laughing at all these old men in skintight running tights.  I wish I lived closer to her–she’d be a great running buddy.

The last third of the race was a little frenetic.  Since there were no mile markers, I had no idea where I was.  At 20:00, my sister asked if it was okay and sprinted about 100 yards ahead of me.  I stayed within her sight line for most of the race, but right before the finish I lost her.  She’s speedy!  I started panicking because I couldn’t see the finish line when my watch was at 29:00 or so–I started it with my chip, and I was really shooting to finish in under 30:00 if I could.  Anyway, I got a nice burst of energy after passing a guy who looked young and in shape, and finished strong.  Or…well, whatever this is:

chicago 008

My official chip time was 30:14!  My public goal was to not walk (I didn’t!) and finish in under 31:00 (I did!).  My not-so secret goal was 30:00, and I’m honestly surprised I didn’t get that.  My sister finished in 29:20, I think, and we both felt it might have been a longer course than 5K. (Edit: and a running forum both confirm that the course was actually 3.25 miles long, meaning I did actually run about a 29:00 5K.  Boo, hiss for the course setup.)  Given the effort level we were exerting, I would have guessed we were running 9:20 miles, but my official pace said 9:45.  Still, that’s a :30 better pace than my last race!  Yay!

We then rushed home and showered and went to our food tasting.  YUM.  We decided on:

  • Appetizers: stuffed mushrooms and bruschetta
  • Salads: spinach and Italian tossed
  • Pastas: Rigatoni D (marsala sauce, chicken, rigatoni, mushrooms) and ziti with meat sauce
  • Entrees: beef braciole and chicken marsala
  • Desserts: Still TBD!

Then I went and met with a hairstylist (I liked her, so that’s taken care of) and the pastor (he’s nice, and will be great.)

Here’s where we’re getting married, again, because I love it so much:

chicago 012

There was a wedding going on, which kind of gave me butterflies.  So exciting!

We then drove home and had a lovely dinner with my good friend and bridesmaid and her husband, and her sister and mom.  We all grew up together, so it was so comforting and awesome to spend a night just eating great Italian food together, drinking wine, and catching up.  (Wine recommendation: Foxwood Cabernet.  I LOVE cab and this was awesome.)

Anyway, part two will be up later.  We hit a snag in our dog adoption with our landlord (they misrepresented some stuff to us, we’re bargaining and waiting for a phone call) so we don’t get to pick him up tonight, but we are both hoping and praying it will work out.  Send more vibes!

Annnd we’re off

So, in a few hours we’ll be on the road, making the long haul from Kansas City to Chicago (about 8 hours by car) for our sister-5K-wedding-extravaganza weekend.  Here’s the lineup:


  • Drive eight hours home.  Arrive sane at my mom’s house.
  • Sleep.


  • 5K with my sister
  • Reception food tasting with T, my mom, and my sister
  • Hair salon consultation
  • Meeting with pastor
  • Dinner with my oldest friend (and bridesmaid) and her husband


  • Meeting with florist
  • Cake tasting (!!)
  • Dinner with my aunt and uncle


  • Drive home

Phew!  We’re going to be busy.  I have some great guest posts all ready to go, so keep checking in to read some fun stuff from some of my favorite bloggers!

As far as the 5K, my goals are no walking (it’s a flat course, so I feel like this is definitely achievable) and finish in under 31:00.  (My secret goal is under 30:00, but I’m not sure I know how to pace myself that well yet.  I think 10 minute miles is do-able.)  I’m not sure if my sister and I are going to stick together, or if she’s just going to take off and smoke me, but we will see.  I’ll have a full race report when I return!  Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend!  Any fun plans?


Today I ran 5 miles in 49:40.  I feel really, really good about that.  Warning: if you don’t like cheese, please stop reading.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mental toughness.  One of the things I both love and hate about running is that it makes you stronger physically, but also mentally.  It’s a constant struggle to not quit.  I can do a class at the gym and sail through it without a second thought.  It’s hard, but it’s always changing and there are people shouting and watching you so I’d never even dream of bailing.  Running is just you.  The only person you’re accountable to is yourself.  Nobody really cares if you stop but you.  Nobody else will know that you set a personal record but you.

Today, around my fourth mile, I started feeling a little loopy.   I felt good, but my legs were starting to tire and my stomach was starting to cramp.  I knew I wanted to do 5 miles.  I couldn’t let myself quit–I just couldn’t.  So I started thinking about something I don’t often think about, and especially not when I’m running at the gym.

My dad died two weeks after I turned eight years old.  He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia right after my seventh birthday, and spent the next year in and out (but mostly in) of various hospitals.  Basically, I don’t have very many memories of my father that don’t include him bald, weak, and clammy in a hospital bed.  The few memories of him that I do have I treasure–and without a doubt, the strongest memory I have of him is as a runner.

My dad worked the night shift at a hospital as an electrician.  He would come home from work early in the morning, change into running clothes, and go for a long run every day–5-10 miles, usually.  Everyone in the community knew him and would wave and say hello.  He would come home, panting, and I still remember hugging him and how he smelled, covered in sweat.  He read Runner’s World religiously, and would listen to sports news on his old-fashioned radio Walkman while he ran.  According to my mother, my first words were spoken as my dad walked in the door from a run–“Daddy, I’m so glad to see you!”  (Allegedly, I skipped babbling and single words and waited to speak until I was capable of full sentences.  I’m skeptical, but this is how my mom paints the picture.)

Anyway–when I hit that wall today–maybe it was because I hadn’t had enough water, maybe the blisters on my feet were making me crazy–I heard him, and I felt him with me.  I’m not one of those people that goes around wearing angel pins from Hallmark, but I just felt kind of like wherever he is–he wants me to be running.  He’s happy that I’m doing something he loved to do so much.  Maybe if he was still here, we’d go running together.

As proof, one of the few pictures I have of me and my dad together…and he’s in a Nike running shirt.  (Forgive the hair.  It was the early eighties and he had curls and never quite enough time for hair products.)

dad 001

Anyway, sorry for the kind of strange twist to this post.  I just felt today, more than ever, some kind of connection to him, like I was continuing his legacy in the way he’d want it done.  I know from now on, as the miles go by beneath my feet, he will be cheering me on, wherever he is.

Active Rest for a Cause

Every week, I take two rest days away from the gym.  One day, usually Saturday, is absolute rest–I lay on the couch and do as little as possible.  Sometimes I don’t even leave the house.  The second day, usually Sunday, is what I call active rest–I don’t go to the gym, but I try to do something a little bit physical, whether it’s heavy cleaning around the house or a leisurely walk around the neighborhood or Wii Fit or some extra stretching.  Yesterday I rested hardcore–I basically didn’t budge from my armchair all day long.  Today, though, I’ve had some pretty fun active rest planned for awhile.
This morning, T and I participated in the Whisper Walk for Ovarian Cancer.  It was a 5K walk, so no runners, and obviously, for a great cause–to raise funding for ovarian cancer research and to spread awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer so women can detect it earlier.  Sadly, T’s Aunt M has been fighting ovarian cancer for the last few years.  She’s been through countless surgeries and experimental medications and chemotherapy, but still has a wonderful spirit and attitude that we absolutely love.  She was able to walk the entire 5K with us today and we had a lot of fun for a great cause.

Before the walk, there was lots of food and milling about in a courtyard:

whisperwalk 010

whisperwalk 011

Lots of people were wearing signs on their back showing who they were walking the course for.  This one was my favorite–the guy wearing it was probably in high school  (sorry it’s huge, I wanted you to be able to read it!):

whisperwalk 012

Hee.  And finally, here’s me in action:

whisperwalk 013

I had someone take a picture of our “team,” but she wound up taking a video instead!  Boo.  We were nine strong and all enjoyed a lovely brunch after the walk.  All in all, it was a great experience.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the weather was nice and mild.  It was also nice to see the course, because I’m running a 5K at the same place on November 22nd.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a way to get in some good active rest for a good cause, look for charity walks in your area!  It was a fun experience and obviously helping a good cause is a worthy bonus.  Since I don’t have a job right now, I’m trying to put a lot more effort into helping out causes I care about.  I currently have a regular volunteer position at one of my favorite charities and I try to donate platelets once or twice a month.  I also have a few bigger public service projects brewing behind the scenes that I’ll hopefully have more information about later on.

What charities do you support?  Does the charity benefiting from a race influence your decision to do it or not do it?