Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - A Year In Review...and a Look Forward to 2011

I am a goal setter/planner by nature so the New Year appeals to me. Even so, last year was one of the first years that I took a hard look at what I wanted and set up some goals. So before I give my 2011 resolutions, I thought I’d follow up on 2010.

  • Do three triathlons Well, I REGISTERED for three...didn't do any and am completely OK with that. Money got in the way of one, I ended up working another as volunteer coordinator and the third was the same weekend as Joe's first endurance foray...the MS Ride. I wouldn't have missed Joe crossing the finish line for anything.
  • Do the Space Coast Half Marathon in Florida YEP. And it was easy!
  • Lose 20 pounds The bad thing about long runs is that I justify overeating. I just ran 8 miles; bring on the ice cream! So nope, didn't lose 20 pounds.
  • Improve my running time. First time I ran I managed a 16 minute mile. I am now down to a comfortable 11 minute mile.
  • Pay off some debt. If by pay off I meant get tons more, then I succeeded. Pretty sure that's not what I meant, so I suck.
  • Be a good friend to my friends and let them be good to me. I'm going to say yes on this one.
  • Try to not drink so much soda. With the help of Twitter and, as of August 1, I am soda free. All I drink now is water with the occasional diet lemonade.
  • Go back to low carb living. I am still trying to figure out the nutrition aspect of being an endurance athlete. Bodies need carbs to perform, I just need to get better about choosing wise carbs.
  • Continue working for the three non profits in my life right now: Tri It For Life, St. Jude and For Your Cure. I am now on the board of Tri It For Life and have continued to fund raise for St. Jude. For Your Cure has taken a break due to some personal issues with founder Stephen Fogg (Despite chemo and the doc saying it wasn't possible, Foggy and Julie are expecting their first child! Take that you stupid cancer!)

So now for 2011. I really can’t explain it, but athletic goals lead the way. I have a full slate planned so far:

  • 6 mile run in Charleston (
  • Half marathon in April (
  • I am doing the swim portion of a relay at the Jetton Tri in May
  • 24 Hours of Booty with a goal of 100 miles this year (
  • The Nations Tri, International Distance Tri in DC (
  • MS Ride to Sunset Beach with Joe
  • Lose 30 pounds
  • Train for a marathon next May of 2012 (
  • Continue to push myself to do the uncomfortable things at work and persevere no matter the changes or challenges
  • Stop incurring debt and maybe pay some debt down
  • See my parents at least twice a month
  • Read at least 1 book a month

Monday, December 20, 2010

End of Year Music

Seems like I haven't been paying much attention to music these days, or else I have been so busy building my running playlist that I seems to only hear songs by beats per minute. Whatever the reason, my 4th Quarter Music listing is a bit slim. I promise to be better next year.

Heart Vacancy by The Wanted
VCR by The XX
Love You More by The Pierces
Waiting for the End by Linkin Park (I KNOW....horrible. I doubt you will ever see their name again on my listing, but I really do like this song.)

Girls with Accents by Fences
My Body by Young The Giant
Terrible Love by The National
Solitude is Bliss by Tame Impala

Rolling In Deep by Adele
Post Break Up Sex by The Vaccines
Bonus Christmas Song you should listen to: The Christmas Can Can by Straight No Chaser

Monday, December 13, 2010

Marathon Music

I really don't think I need music to run, but it sure helps when you are doing a long run alone. Music helps me pace and keeps me going, even when I don't want to. So after a few days of honing and crafting, here is the playlist that I listened to during my half marathon. These songs all hover around the 160 BPM mark which translates roughly to a 10:30 mile pace. If you are a runner, feel free to steal and enjoy.

Stretching, ready to begin but not running time:
Beautiful Day - U2
Ready to Start- Arcade Fire

Dakota- Sterophonics
This Modern Love - Bloc Party (this song is perfect for my pace. If I thought I could have listened to this song straight for 3 hours, I would have. I did sprinkle this in throughout the run...any transition in styles of music or just after a while to put me back on pace. I love it.)
A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
Blue Light - Block Party
Halfway Home - TV on the Radio
Gamma Ray - Beck
Black and White Town - Doves
I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked- Ida Marie
Keep Your Head - The Ting Tings
Lasso - Phoenix
Australia- The Shins
No Sunlight - Death Cab for Cutie
Molly's Chambers - Kings of Leon
Ooh La - The Kooks
This Modern Love (Dave P and Adam Sparkles Making Time remix) - Bloc Party
Sex on Fire- Kings of Leon
Walkie Talkie Man- Steriogram
Such Great Heights- The Postal Service
Na Na Na Na Naa - Kaiser Chiefs
She Moves in Her Own Way - The Kooks
Jigsaw Falling Into Place - Radiohead
I Melt With You- Modern English
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
Age of Consent- New Order
Take on Me - a ha
Just Like Heaven- The Cure
Runnin Down a Dream - Tom Petty
End of the Line - The Traveling Wilburys
Young Turks - Rod Stewart
Steppin Out - Joe Jackson
One Way or Another - Blondie
What I Like About You - The Romantics
A Forest - The Cure
This Modern Love - Bloc Party
If Looks Could Kill - Camera Obscura
Hey Man (Now You're Really Living) - Eels
Pump It - Black Eyed Peas
Sweet Disposition- The Temper Trap
Feel the Pain - Dinosaur Jr.
Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John
What Difference Does It Make - The Smiths
Marathon Not a Sprint - Camera Obscura
A Well Respected Man - The Kinks
Glass of Water - Cold Play
hopelist - What Made Milwaukee Famous
Ask- The Smiths
Alex Chilton- The Replacements
The Seed 2.0-The Roots and Cody Chestnutt
Get On Your Boots - U2
We used to Wait - Arcade Fire
Fire It Up - Modest Mouse
Ali in the Jungle- The Hours

Monday, November 29, 2010

Really Living.

As of 9:16 on Sunday morning, I finished my first half marathon. In short, it was fantastic, fun, easy and so much better than I ever would have thought. The fact that I just used those words to describe 3 hours of running is still amazing to me, but they are true.

The details
The entire week before the race I was really nervous. I felt like a fraud, ill prepared and over analyzed every ache or tight muscle. Friday morning we went to pick up my race packet at the local running store. They had 13.1 bracelets and T-shirts with the race name on it and of course the 13.1 magnet. Joe wanted me to get one but I was afraid I'd jinx myself. At one point we were talking about the different fonts used on the magnets and which one I would get. I suddenly worried "What if I don't finish?". It was a real fear. After that we drove the course and I was pretty happy. It wasn't as flat as I had been promised, but I would never call it a hilly course. The rest of the day I rested my legs and tried not to think too much.

Saturday night was the pre-race dinner at the Kennedy Space Center. As we all lined up to get on the shuttles to take us to dinner, I felt very intimidated. I know that appearances don't translate to ability. I've said for a long time that I am quite proud being fat and long as the fit is in there. There are skinny people that can't walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath so I know that looks can be deceiving. But looking around, there were so many people that were obviously runners I felt out of place. We rode to Center and watched a video about the Saturn series and then saw the control room as it was in the 60s and listened as they simulated a shuttle launch complete with rattling windows and bright lights. As a former space geek, I loved it! Then we went into the main hall where the Saturn 5 rocket was hanging from the ceiling. Dinner tables were set up underneath and it was so cool to sit under such a massive peace of equipment and an amazing part of history.

Dick Beardsley was the speaker of the night. I had read 'Duel In The Sun", the book about his race in Boston against Alberto Salazar. They averaged less than a 5 minute mile for the entire marathon. As a slow runner, I am in awe of his natural ability. He also has quite a story about after the marathon and genuinely seems like a nice guy. He talked about lining up for that race. He had won several other marathons and I think most everyone would have said he was a runner. But he said as he worked his way to the starting line, he felt like he didn't belong....that he wasn't a runner. Then he said he realized he had put in the miles. He had done the hard work. He deserved to be there. Then he said to us..."You have put in the miles. You have trained. You deserve to be here." My mom turned, patted me on the leg and I held back tears. I did do the hard work. I got up at 4 AM and ran 3 times a week regardless of how I felt, what the weather was or how late I went to bed the night before. I designed a training plan and increased my mileage. I was smart, but pushed myself past my inherent laziness. I deserved to be there. As we got back on the bus to take us to the Visitor's Center, the guard wished me luck on the race tomorrow. I proudly said "Thank you!"

Back at the hotel I got into the elevator and recognized a couple that had been at the dinner. I asked them if they were ready and they said no. I asked them what they were doing and they said "Just the half.' "Me too" I replied. They seemed shocked. "Oh really?" they asked. I was giddy as I ran back to the room. Someone thought I looked like a marathoner!

I woke up at 3:30 on Sunday morning and was completely calm. I was excited and all the nerves were gone. I took a shower, talked to my legs like I normally do before a long run and put on my race outfit I had planned. Joe pinned my number on me and we left for the race site. The weather was perfect, a cool 56 with a clear sky. We found a parking place pretty easily and found our way to the main pavilion. After 4 trips to the bathroom (hydrating has its price), we walked to the starting line. There were 2700 people that were doing the race so it wasn't huge, but it was crowded enough that I couldn't find my parents. About two minutes before the start I was on the phone with my dad trying to figure out where they were in the masses. My mom grabbed the phone from him and in a very movie like moment said, "Amy, we're here. We love you. We know you can do this." It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Instead of a gun shot, this race starts with a space shuttle countdown and then sounds of the blast off. Before I knew it I was running. There was a brief moment right in the beginning where I thought "Holy Crap....I'm running a half marathon." It was exciting. I settled into my race and was very proud of myself for running my plan. I had a great playlist (Coming in a separate post) and I paced exactly where I needed to be based off my training for endurance, not speed. Miles 1-5 went by pretty quickly but around mile 6 I did get a little lightheaded so I walked for 5 minutes, ate a power bar and drank. The turnaround was a welcomed sight.

As I ran back towards the finish, I passed the marathoners making their way up. It was amazing to see some truly great runners (who quickly passed me, finishing the marathon an hour faster than I did the 1/2) and I became the cheerleader as they ran towards me. It was invigorating to yell and clap for strangers and kept me motivated to keep going. I was also pleased with how many people returned my cheer with a 'thanks, you too!' I remembered the book Born to Run that asserts that basically being a nice person makes you a better runner. That might sound ridiculous but I felt better once I started cheering for everyone as we passed.

Miles 10-12 were spent with a mother-daughter team that were running their first half as well. We made small talk about the other runners, the dinner the night before and my Garmin. I eventually left them after the daughter had to slow it down, but I am so glad they were there for those miles. After I left them I realized I had a mile to go. One mile and I would be a half marathoner. At that point "Hey Man" by the Eels came on my playlist. Here are the lyrics:

Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor
And cry your guts out 'til you got no more
Hey man now you're really living

Have you ever made love to a beautiful girl
Made you feel like it's not such a bad world
Hey man now you're really living

Now you're really giving everything
And you're really getting all you gave
Now you're really living what
This life is all about

Well i just saw the sun rise over the hill
Never used to give me much of a thrill
But hey man now you're really living

Do you know what it's like to care too much
'bout someone that you're never gonna get to touch
Hey man now you're really living

Have you ever sat down in the fresh cut grass
And thought about the moment and when it will pass
Hey man now you're really living

Now you're really giving everything
And you're really getting all you gave
Now you're really living what
This life is all about

I had to choke back tears, (which trying to do while also trying to run and not get out of breath is hard). I was going to finish a half marathon.

Last September, after I finished the triathlon, I felt like I could conquer the world and decided I wanted to do an Ironman. One Problem: I finished the Ramblin Rose by walking the entire 2 mile run course. The thought of me doing a marathon was pretty ridiculous. I decided I could do it if I gave myself enough time to train. There was the shadow of doubt that I wouldn't train...but I signed up anyway. I procrastinated training but eventually in October started getting serious. And here I was...about to finish my first half, and feeling that I was really living...that this was what it was really about.

I rounded the corner and started the last 100 yards to the finish line while "Ali and Jungle" was playing.

It's, not, how you start, it's how you finish,
And it's, not, where you're from, it's where you're at,

Everybody gets knocked down,
How quick are you gonna' get up?

Like Ali in the jungle,
Like Nelson in jail,
Like Simpson on the mountain,
With odds like that, they were bound to fail
Like Keller in the darkness,
Like Adam's in the dark,
Like Ludwig Van, how I loved that man, well the guy went deaf and didn't give a ----, no...

It's, not, where you are, It's where you're going,
Where are you going?
And it's, not, about the things you've done, it's what you're doing, now,
What are you doing, now?

My parents were right at the finish line. Joe was a couple of people behind them. I crossed the finish line feeling elated. A volunteer said congratulations as he placed my finisher's medal around my neck. I was a half marathoner.

I still don't really know if I like running, but I enjoy the planning, training, seeing myself improve and I LOVE finishing. I know that I want to do a marathon. I know it will be harder, both physically and mentally, but I also know I need to do one for reasons I can't explain; for me. I have so much respect for the training process and the body's ability to adapt and to grow. When I think about the first time I ran and then compare it to what I did on Sunday, it is amazing, but fills me with pride.

I am not fast. I will never finish first. I can honestly say that is fine with me. I had fun running this race. I enjoyed myself. I felt fantastic as I crossed the finish line and even the next day. I am excited to tackle the marathon and then after that, the Ironman. Training with friends, being surrounded by family, using and appreciating my body: now I'm really living.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This time next weekend....

My first half marathon is in 7 days. Six days, sixteen hours and 2 minutes to be exact. Am I ready? I have no idea. My running partner says I am. Most people who know me say I am. Yet I don't quite feel ready.

My longest run has been 10 miles. I did it twice - once was horrible and once was great. I wanted to do a little longer but my boss, who does endurance marathons and 50 mile runs, said that it was more important for me to go into the race with a positive feeling than to do a long run and feel worse. Realistically running 2 more miles isn't going to make that much of a difference. Yet I still wish I had run at least 11 miles.

I did a quick 5 miles this morning and will do an easy 2 on Tuesday. Today felt good on the first half. I was running quicker than normal and it was fun. The way back I felt OK. My pace was still fast (10:29 vs my usual 12:23) but my stomach was upset, my feet hurt and I just wanted to stop. At first 5 miles seemed so short but all of a sudden I couldn't imagine running any longer. That does not bode well.

I know I have trained, but have I done enough? I know I can walk it if I need to, but I really want to do well. I felt this way before the traithlon last year and in retrospect, that was easy. I am hoping that this time next week I feel the same way. I don't want to stop my body has been easy compared to training my brain to stop worrying and enjoy my sucess.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Public Declaration of a Private Truth

Years ago I remember standing in some body's house, a friend of a friend, and looking at her framed marathon display; pictures of her at various times on the course, her finishing time and race bib. I thought I'd like to do that. I've watched a 2 hour documentary on first time marathoners and cried at the end. I thought it would be a neat, but mostly impossible goal for me, the lazy, non runner, couch-lover. I researched it. I looked into Team In Training. I was jealous of people who had done a marathon. It was so far out of my reach; I hate running. After I did the Ramblin Rose, I felt like I could do anything, so I signed up for a half marathon to see how it would be...with the idea that if it wasn't that hard I would do a full marathon. I've been running, a lot, and lately, running hasn't been that hard. I've found that with training, I am pretty sure I can do anything. I'm not going to win, and will probably be finishing as most other racers are finishing up their showers and post race meals. But I'll start and I'll finish and I'll have a race medal to show for it and the inner knowledge that I set a goal, worked hard to accomplish it and did it. (Race medals are the coolest race perk. When you finish an endurance event, you get a medal. They differ by event, place and having a cool medal is a goal of most event planners. They are quite heavy and are a source of pride for many people. I didn't know about the medals when I started this all, but now I have to admit I want to build my collection of bling! Here's what my half marathon medal will look like.)

I've talked about Alyse Kelly-Jones and how motivational she is to me. She did an iron man...a 2 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and then a marathon. The first time I heard of an iron man was in 2009 when I was training for my first triathlon. I had to look it up online. My friend Courtney and I stared at the screen in disbelief. They can't mean they do that all on one day? I looked up results to confirm that yes, they do that all in one day, usually a 7am-9pm kinda day. Impossible, I thought.

But then I let it mull over in my brain. I spent a meeting looking at Alyse and thinking...she did it. She doesn't have a cape or other superhero tool. She has a family and a job and a belly. If she can do it....well so can I. With training, I am pretty sure I can do anything. I'm going to do a half and am pretty sure that the once impossible marathon is completely do-able. If that once impossible goal is now possible, well it opens up a host of events including an iron man. I talked it over with Joe. Training is key and you can imagine that if it takes 18 hours to complete an iron man, the training time is monumental. Training for an iron man means no weekend couch fests. I will spend an entire day riding, or running or both. It means early bedtimes, skipping parties and not a lot of drinking because I probably have a long ride/run/swim the next day. It means sore muscles, ice baths, iced knees and a bottle (or seven) of ibuprofen. (Check out this video...hysterical because it is true) Joe knows all that and even though I don't think he understands it all, he is very supportive.

So here is my public declaration of the thing I have known in my heart I've wanted to do for at least a year; I want to complete an iron man by the time I am 40. Here's my plan:
  • 2011 (37 years old) - half marathon, improve running, international distance triathlon and open water swim
  • 2012 (38 years old)- full marathon (probably the Flying Pig ( I want my first to mean something...and the Pig, while horribly hard and hilly, is like running through an episode of Amy...This is Your Life. I will run by my high school, where I had my first kiss, my first job, etc. )
  • 2013 (39 years old) - half iron man (Ever see a 70.3 sticker on a car and wonder what it meant? That is the total mileage for a half iron man.)
  • 2014 (40 years old) - full iron man (That would be the 140.6 sticker.)

I wish I could say why I want to do this or why I feel the need to essentially push my body off the comfortable couch. Sure, I'll get cool medals. But it is something deeper than that, something that is so personal for me. It has nothing to do with the competition and I am surprised by that fact. It's almost as if I feel "Of course I can do why wouldn't I?' I know people think it is crazy, but for me, it is the most logical, sane thing I could do. I just know that I have to do it, or I will always wonder. My brain certainly has very high expectations of me, and I'm OK with that. And if you have read this and thought I am crazy, that's OK. But if in a couple weeks you are still thinking about it, well sorry to say you might be doomed, but let me know. I'd love to have a training partner!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Roller Coaster Ride of a Fat, Slow Athlete.

I don't know when it happened, but I now have more workout outfits than I do jammies. That is a HUGE statement for me since I used to have more PJs than almost any other kind of clothing. Other odd things have been happening lately as well. Last weekend while running by myself on the greenway, I caught myself smiling. No reason, just running along smiling. Then there was the Thursday morning run that started out horribly. I was hot, it was humid and I took off my shirt and ran in my sports bra and HAD FUN. There was a day I had planned an evening easy run but work got in the way and I had to cancel and I was actually upset. A couple of Tuesday's ago I ran a 5K the fastest ever for me. Last week I did the same hilly 6 mile course as the horrible Thursday run and it was great. Sunday I ran 10 miles with Joe, and didn't feel sore or tight at all. So to say the last month's training has been revolutionary is an understatement.

Three months ago I reached out to a fellow Tri It For Lifer, Cindy Multer, and asked if I could run with her. She had been running in her neighborhood with another TIFLer. For some reason I never felt rude or odd asking her. I just did and she said yes. That first day was HORRIBLE. I hardly got two miles in and I felt like crap. It was hot, I puked and my average pace was almost 17 minutes a mile. I am pretty sure I can CRAWL faster than that. But reaching out to Cindy was the best thing I could have done, because I kept going. She had emergency gall bladder surgery so was out in September but we started back in October and this time, we were serious. All that bike riding I was doing did make a difference and I found it was easier to go longer and longer distances. Cindy pushed me to run when I didn't want to and since we are both slow, morning runners, we kept each other accountable. I increased my mileage and am now running 20 miles a week, all at around a 13 min pace. That is still slow, but I am happy since it is such an improvement for me. I fought the urge to walk up to co workers and tell them I ran 6 miles before they even woke up. I daydreamed about flying home wearing my half marathon medal and getting moved to first class. But.....

I consider myself a positive person but I am suddenly realizing how much negative inner thoughts I have and boy it is a ton. I run 9 miles and for a mere second I marvel at the fact that I just ran 9 miles and then it is gone and replaced with "But you ran so slowly. But you took walk breaks. But you are slow. But it was only 9 miles. I bet anyone could do that." It is horrible because there is part of me that knows that 9 miles is a huge accomplishment, but I FEEL the negative thoughts. I have two weeks til my half marathon. Even the fact that I am doing a half is slightly embarrassing. I say "Oh I'm just doing a half marathon. Not the WHOLE thing. That would be an accomplishment. I am slow and fat. " I suck. Three months ago I couldn't run a mile. Now I can run 10. Yes I am slow and yes I take walk breaks, but I actually run better when I do that. I am large. I weigh over 200 pounds. That is a lot of stress on the body. I am equally ashamed and proud of that fact. I WISH I was fast. A friend asked me if I was hoping for a time. "Yes, I am secretly aiming for 2 hours and 45 minutes but think my official time will be closer to 3 hours." Well turns out she did a half and came in under 2 hours. Suddenly I was mortified at making my 3 hours public.

But for me...3 hours is good, great really when you consider where I was just 3 months ago. Isn't it actually harder for me to trudge along for 3 hours rather than those people that finish in an hour, or even two? Isn't it impressive that someone who HATED running has come to actually enjoy it? Isn't the fact that I get up at 4AM and run even though I'd rather be in bed count for something? I don't feel tight or sore after running almost 10 miles and don't forget that I have a super cute matching outfit! I'm going to finish a half marathon. Yes, that is a big deal. I know that, and for a few minutes after a run I feel that. I just hope that when I cross the finish line I can tell my stupid self to shut up and let me enjoy it for at least 5 minutes. And I am going to wear my medal on the plane and if they don't upgrade me to first class, pooey on them, because I am going to be a slow, fat, half marathon finisher. Damnit.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Let the real training begin.

I have to brag, I had a great running week last week. I finally plugged my Garmin into my computer and could see all my runs. The more I am learning about my Garmin, the more I LOVE it. It keeps my pace, my mileage and it beeps if my heart rate reaches puke point!

Cindy has been a life saver as an accountability partner, a running buddy and a friend. With her help I have dropped 4 minutes off my overall running pace. And more importantly, I am having fun. So it is crunch time with my training...let the real training begin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Half Mara-What?

It's October 4. My half marathon is November 28. I have done nothing. I am freaking out.

Ok I haven't really done "nothing." I've been helping Joe get ready for the MS 150 and we have been riding our bikes an average of 50 miles every weekend plus a few weekday rides. Until she had emergency gall bladder surgery in September, I was running with my Tri It pal Cindy a couple miles a few times a week. But since then...nothing.

Oh wait - there was something else I did. I put together this fantastically dorky training schedule which spread my training over 3 months; a slow and gradual increase in mileage for minimal injury. I laminated it and hung it on my fridge. Joe and I also did run a mile one morning.

I should have run yesterday, and Joe would have gone with me, but I wanted to lay on my couch. So I did. I got grumpy when I couldn't find anyone to agree to meet me this morning at the gym. I thought a bunch of feel-sorry-for-me things like "Why won't people help me do this?" "Why don't people rearrange their schedule for me?" "Why did I agree to do this?" "How did Sh!t My Dad Says premiere as the most watched new sitcom when it is so dreadfully horrible?"

I still set all my stuff out for me to go to the gym in the morning. I set my alarm and then hit snooze a time or dozen. But I got up (thanks mostly to Joe who also got up), got dressed and headed to the gym. The guy at the front desk didn't skip a beat. "Hi Amy - we've missed you." I laughed it off and trudged my way to the treadmills and started running. It actually wasn't that bad really; I guess all that biking did payoff with some stronger legs and better cardio. I was able to run for 30 minutes, a slow, sweaty 2 miles.

I'm still not a fan of running but I do appreciate that it allows me some steady thinking time. Today's subject on the brain was running and the half marathon. I put myself in this position of being behind in my training. I was supposed to do 6 miles on Sunday; I did only 2 miles today. My biggest fear is pushing myself too hard and hurting myself so badly that I cannot run or bike. I committed to this half marathon and actually, really do want to do well. Midway through today's run I realized something really important. I have got to stop looking for someone else to help me with this. I've got to be my own motivator and get up every morning and get a work out in. No one else can do this for me. No one. Joe has been great and I know he will run with me on the weekends but I can't/shouldn't count on him. This has got to be a me thing and in some ways, I think that is why I signed up for a half marathon. I wanted to know I could follow through with something that isn't easy for me. Well here it is getting hard. Test One and so far I have failed. But you know what? I still have time left, not a lot, but some. So I'll get up again tomorrow and run. And I'll get up on Wednesday and run and Thursday too. On Friday I'll take that Pilates class to give my muscles the proper stretch they deserve. I'll go on a long ride on Sunday and not worry because that is helping me, physically and emotionally because I enjoy the time with Joe. With every run I'll get stronger and faster and longer until November 28 comes, and hopefully I've done enough to cross the finish line feeling that I did my best. It sounds so elementary, but in the end, that is what matters the most. And that is all up to me.

July, August and September Music

Here are my favorites from the last three months.

Hannah..................................Freelance Whales (Ok this was in May too, but I REALLY love it)
Ready to Start........................Arcade Fire
Up In The Clouds..................Darwin Deez
Finale.....................................Funeral Party
In The Morning.....................Razorlight
Rollerblades...........................Eliza Doolittle
Bloodbuzz Ohio.....................National
I Was Drunk..........................Riva Starr
It's Working...........................MGMT
Don't Give Up.........................Whitest Boy Alive

Song Title.................................Artist
New York................................Paloma Faith
Wonderful Life........................Hurts
Upside......................................Kano/Michelle Breeze
Flux..........................................Block Party
Bang Pop..................................Free Energy
Pumped Up Kicks.....................Foster the People
The Bike Song...........................Mark Ronson and the Business International
Make You Feel My Heart.........Adele
Sowing Season..........................Brand New

Song Title....................................Artist
Spanish Sahara...........................Foals
Shame..........................................Robbie Williams/Gary Barlow
Get Higher...................................Paper Tongues
1984..............................................Neon Trees
Giving It All Away.......................Dead Confederate
Something Good Can Work.........Two Door Cinema
Heart Vacancy..............................The Wanted
Constellations................................Darwin Deez

Monday, September 27, 2010

Joe rocks the MS 150

I am by no means an athlete, but I've always been active. I've had and used a gym membership consistently over the last 15 years. I enjoy working out....but that has always been a solo effort. I was ecstatic when Joe told me he was going to do the MS Breakaway to the Beach with his cousin Mike. This annual event has bikers start in Monroe and ride to Sunset Beach, a total of 150 miles.

We started training this summer and got into a good routine of short rides during the week and longer ones on the weekends. We did a charity ride that made us realize that there are mountains in Waxhaw and we became very familiar with all the hyphenated roads in Union County. We rode in the rain and the hot sun. We rode a disastrous ride after giving blood (Tip: don't ever do this). We got very comfortable walking into public places smelly and sweaty. I perfected pigtails.

So last weekend was the actual event. We got up at 4am on Saturday and met his cousin to carpool to the start. A little after 7:30, Joe, Mike and about 1200 other riders got started, and I hopped in the car and drove to Sunset Beach to wait for his arrival on Sunday. I knew Joe would have no problems. He is a strong biker and we had trained well. I knew he could easily do 50 miles without stopping, so if he slowed down and stopped at each rest stop, I knew he'd be fine. It was weird being on that side of an event. All the runs, bikes and other events I have done, Joe has either been by my side or waiting as I finished. It was a little odd to be the one seeing him go. I felt a little like a protective mom watching her son go to school for the first day as they rode off into the sunrise. I anxiously waited for word.
He finished early on Saturday and when I finally got to talk to him he was happy and feeling great. I was relieved. My brother had done the MS ride one year and we picked him up and brought him home. He was grumpy...and that is an understatement. He was intolerable. So I was sorta worried Joe might suffer the same fate, but he was more excited than the start.
Sunday morning I got to the finish line at 10am to make sure I didn't miss him. I sat and cheered on as the bikers began to cross the finish line. As the morning faded to noon, the dark storm clouds became very apparent. We heard thunder and I just hoped Joe would finish before the rain. Around 12:30 I finally saw his yellow and red jersey and knew it was him. He looked great and I ran over to him. He was ecstatic, saying how much fun that was and how awesome he felt. I was so happy and proud of him it made my heart hurt. Mike finished a few seconds later with an equally big grin. Literally a minute later the rain started pouring. We ran to the car, strapped the bikes in and now all soaked, jumped in the car for the ride home.
Joe is now hooked. He woke up Monday feeling great - and his legs are rock hard! He was ready to ride again Monday night but the weather prevented us. I am so happy for him; not only that he did so well and felt so great, but that he enjoyed himself. Most people look at me like I am insane when I said how much fun I had at the triathlon, but now Joe gets it. Even better, we have something that we can do together. We are getting together this weekend to plan our 2011 year and form an official bike team. I am even thinking of a lofty 1,000 mile goal. We'll Joe says, I can be quite ambitious.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall TV - Return to the Couch!

It's been a pretty active summer for the Burr-Manns so we haven't watched nearly as much TV as we usually do. But luckily for us Fall TV is back and we are looking forward to some good TV time!

Here are my picks for the 2010-11 Fall TV Season. And yes, I know I watch too much TV.

8 - How I Met Your Mother, CBS, premieres 9/20. Suit Up! Barney's back.
9- The Event, NBC, premieres 9/20. Joe thinks this looks stupid, but I am intrigued. I have very high hopes for a TV show delivering an interesting story that is smart and not so obvious from the first 10 minutes. This might not be that show, but we will give it our standard 3 episodes.
10 - Castle, ABC, Premieres 9/20 AND Hawaii Five-O, CBS, 9/20. We have loved Nathan Fillian since his Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place Days and have followed his career closely. We love Castle for its campiness and have been in since day 1. So we are torn that it is up against the strong looking Hawaii Five-O. I like Alex O'Laughlin and Joe likes Grace Park and this just looks like a fun hour. We'll Tivo one and catch the other online.

8- No Ordinary Family, ABC, 9/28. A show about a family who gets superpowers- of course I am going to watch!
9- Raising Hope, FOX, 9/21. I will give this a try since Modern Family has restored my faith in a 30 minute sit-com. Update: Yes, this is a keeper. Hysterically funny - check it out.
9:30 - Running Wilde, FOX, 9/21. If you haven't seen Arrested Development, GO NOW and get all 3 fantastic seasons. Then you can understand why I am crazy excited for Running Wilde, Will Arnett's latest project. I'm sure I'll miss Jason Batemen and Portia De Rossi in perfect casting, but I will give this a try for sure. Update: This is not for everyone. A lot of the humor is quiet and sorta behind the scenes. I have a feeling this is going to get cancelled, but you should watch until then because it is actually a sweet, funny comedy.
10 - The Good Wife - CBS - 9/28. I LOVED the season finale last year and am so excited to see where Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies' characters go from there. This show has drama, romance, intrigue and great acting. Josh Charles, who won my heart in Sports Night, really shines and I am glad he is back in a high profile show.

8 - Lie To Me. FOX, 11/10. I love Tim Roth on Lie To Me and am looking forward to see how changes made at the end of last season (Loker's promotion) will affect the staff of The Lightman Group. It doesn't start until November, which allows me to audition.... Update: Lonestar was cancelled after two episodes, so Lie To Me has a new start date of Monday, October 4.
8:30 - Better With You, ABC, 9/22. This looks like a cute little couple comedy. Could go either way, but at least it doesn't interfere with anything until November. Update: this is hysterical. Three couples, one has been together 25 years, one 15 years and one 7 months. No matter what your relationship status, you will see bits of you (and everyone you know) in this. The gold standard for a sitcom: Joe and I have quoted this show four times since watching it on Saturday.
9 - Modern Family, ABC, 9/22. Without a doubt, the best show on TV; consistently funny, real, sweet and fun.
9:30 - Cougar Town, ABC, 9/22. I was late to this show since I couldn't make it past the first episode. But mid season it settled in to a comfortable stride and it did make me chuckle. My very, very manly husband loves this show, so it is a keeper for this fall.
10 - The Whole Truth, ABC, 9/22. This Jerry Bruckheimer's latest showcases both sides of a lawsuit. It stars Maura Tierney and Rob Morrow, who I both like, so will give this 3 episodes.
Update: This is OK. We've seen one episode so far and the biggest thing that bothered me is that I don't think there is any way that the jury would have voted the way they did based on the evidence presented. It will have to be more realisitc to stay on my TiVo.

8- Community, NBC, 9/23. I am a huge fan of Joel McHale's so we were excited for Community last year. I was even more surprised when the show was actually funny, increasingly so as the season wore on and the characters developed.
8:30- Bleep my Dad Says, CBS, 9/23. Honestly, I'm not that excited about this but I LOVE William Shatner so will give it a shot. Who's only 30 minutes. Update: The love I have for Shatner is no match for how horrible this show is.
9- Fringe, FOX, 9/23. I skipped season 2 because it conflicted with Supernatural. There will be some catching up on DVD, which reminds me I need to order that!

8 - Human Target, FOX, 10/1. This is not the most intelligent show out there, but it's fun. Really, how can you go wrong with Chi McBride, Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Valley?
9 - Supernatural, CW, 9/24. God bless those Winchester boys. I am so glad they are back. I have loved this show since season 1. It's delightfully funny, suspenseful and the relationships are fantastic. The boys are hot, even the angels are hot! It's worth catching up on DVDs if you haven't seen it.
10-Teach: Tony Danza, A&E, 10/1. Before he became the actor he is, Tony earned a degree in History Education. So in 2009-2010 he taught in a Philadelphia school. I know it sounds odd, but I saw an interview about it and he seemed so vulnerable and real, I really want to see how it goes. This is just a 7 episode series.

9 - DEXTER!, Showtime, 9/26. I was surprised but OK when that guy killed that girl (vague for people who aren't current). It will be so interesting to see how that other guy handles all that other stuff. AND that one guy is still out there! YAY!
And I forgot: Boardwalk on HBO. Great reviews, expensive sets, Scorcese directing Buscemi, already renewed for a second season. Sold.

FYI - Showtime's other great show Californication is slated to start 1/10/11 on the Sunday at 10pm slot. They are also bringing out a new show for the 9PM slot called Shameless, starring William H. Macy. I figure if he's in it, it's gotta be quirky, kinda sad and very good. Secret Diary of a Call Girl is also slated to be back but exact date is TBD.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pink Elephant Party - The Duets

I work in radio so you could assume that music is important to me, but really those two facts have nothing to do with each other. This past Saturday we had another Pink Elephant Party with the theme "Great Compilations." This meant duets, featurings and mash ups. Of all the PEPs, this was the easiest list for me to create and the one that I love the most. Honestly, I think because the songs on my list are closely tied to specific emotions and memories. My list, and why I included them, liner notes if you will:

Time to Say Goodbye - Andrew Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
The first time I went to Vegas was on a magical trip for Joe's 30th birthday. I completely surprised him and had planned the entire trip including packing for him. He had no idea until we got to the airport. He thought he was dropping me off for a work trip, my parents were there with a sign...he was truly shocked. It was great. I had a car waiting for us and the driver was fantastic. Joe didn't know where we were staying until we pulled the Bellagio. Everyone had said how incredible the fountains were but I didn't really get it. They looked pretty online but it was a fountain. After we checked into our room we went down to see the big deal about the Bellagio fountains. We got a prime viewing spot and they started dancing to Time to Say Goodbye by Bocelli and Brightman. I was in awe and actually got teary-eyed. The timing was perfect, the music; magical. So now every time I hear this song I am transported back to that night, exhausted, holding hands and utterly in love with the moment.

Anyone Else But You - Michael Cerra and Ellen Page
This is corny, but I love being in love. This song makes me feel happy and innocent and that two people are meant to be together. I love the lines "We are part time lovers and full time friends" and "We sure are cute for two ugly people." It is a huge plus that I enjoyed the movie this is from (Juno) and thought it to be a smart, sweet comedy.

Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
If you haven't seen the movie Once - go rent it now. This is a fantastic little Indie pic where all the emotion is told in song. So it goes without saying that the music is spectacular; this song even won an Academy Award. The song is beautiful in its simplicity and always gives me chills. While the song appeals to my inner romantic, I also am reminded of when I saw this the theater with Shelia. It was a double movie date day, filled with wine, food and fantastic movies.

That's Me Trying - William Shatner and Aimee Mann
While I have vowed to include William Shatner in every PEP list, I think the next theme, Numbers, will kill that streak. But I do love Ole Bill. This song is so achingly sad but I love it for the way it makes me appreciate my father. I am a true Daddy's Girl and can't imagine not having a close relationship with my dad. This song is so tragic with his admittance that the minimal he can do is his best. I am sure this is so true for many parent-child relationships. It makes me want to hug my dad.

The Fear You Won't Fall - Joshua Radin and Schuyler Fisk
I love Joshua Radin's songwriting. His lyrics are honest and sweet and the melodies are able to convey hope and innocence in one song and melancholy and regret in another. This song is the former, harnessing the excitement of a new relationship. Joe and I are in no means in a new relationship, but two lines always makes me think of the time when we were; "It hasn't felt home before you." and "I hate the phone but I wish you'd call."

Daydreamin' - Lupe Fiasco and Jill Scott
Before I really paid any attention to R&B, I stumbled upon Jill Scott's 2000 release 'Who Is Jill Scott" and fell in love with her. This song is jazzy, Scott's voice is smooth and it even includes music from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. It alternates hip hop with R&B and it makes me feel like I could lay and watch the clouds all day. I honestly cannot remember how or when I heard this song, I just know that it makes me happy to hear it.

The Salmon Dance - The Chemical Brothers and Fatlip
You simply must listen to this song. I got it from an Internet friend with whom I traded music. This song makes me laugh with the one liners and responses to the trivia. It is educational too! (For example, did you know Salmon can swim to Japan and back?) The Chemical Brothers is an English duo that is mostly known for techno dance music and a sense of humor. Listen to this song and you will be a fan. Their other stuff varies greatly, but another good place to start would be "Galvanize."

Kandi - One Eskimo and Candi Stanton
The last night on the boat we were just hanging out in our respective beds. I was reading a magazine and Joe was playing on his phone. The boat has a very nice stereo in it and I was listening to a local station. This song came on and I was instantly happy. It includes a sampling of Candi Stanton's cover of an old 60s song performed by both Ella Washington and Patsy Cline. There is still a 60s feel to the song but it is now more modern and well rounded. It sticks in my head and instantly transports me to the boat that night, feeling completely content.

Candy - Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson
I can't sing. I am not even close to being able to sing. But when I am driving in the car and this song comes on the radio, I turn it up REALLY loud, wait until the parts with Kate Pierson and sing my heart out. In that moment, to this song, I have real talent and I am happy. I probably look (and sound) like an idiot, but I am happy and really, that's what good songs are for.

You Make My Dream - Hall and Oates
Speaking of happy, I DARE you to listen to this song and not bop your head around and feel brighter. It's just one of those silly songs that you can't help but love. I became reacquainted after its inclusion on the spectacularly awesome 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack, but upon further review, Hall & Oates songs stand up as poppy balls of happiness, good to listen to anytime you want to tap your toes or be-bop around.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ahh Key West

It's no secret that I love traveling to any and all places. I usually try to pick someplace new for vacations, with a few exceptions; Jackson, Wyoming (famous for an absolutely perfect family vacation), St. John, USVI and nearby Tortola, BVI (my wedding/honeymoon) and Key West.

I first went to Key West as another birthday surprise for Joe, this time his 35th. We were coming out of one of those years that was filled with more fights than fun and we needed a reset button. I had packed warm weather clothes, all our scuba gear, planned a few dive trips and a bunch of down time. The flight was delayed, we got down there 6 hours late to frigid temperatures (50s)for Key West. The elevator was broken so we lugged our 100 pounds of scuba gear up to our room and laughed at the comedy of errors that was the day but decided the next day would be better. We woke up early to get to the dive shop, lugged our scuba stuff down the stairs, caught a cab that dropped us off outside the shop. We waved goodbye to the cab as we heard the dive shop lady say..."dives are cancelled." Fantastic. We called for ANOTHER cab, lugged our scuba stuff back UP the stairs and then decided drinking was in order. It was COLD there and after a very chilly breakfast we went shopping for jeans and sweaters. We ended up having a fantastic time, despite all the things that went wrong. It was exactly what we needed.

After a 2009 week long stay in Key West with Shelia and Adrienne Wolf, I was even more in love with this adult playground. So Shelia and I planned a girls' weekend for August 12-15, 2010, inviting pretty much everyone. It ended up being just the two of us, but we were both fine with that. Vacationing with someone is actually a big deal and not everyone gels once away from home. I have friends that I have known for years that I would never go away with, but luckily, Shelia and I are great travel mates. To travel with me you need a certain mix of lazy and action and Shelia and I mesh very well. So on Thursday the 12th at 6AM we grabbed our backpacks and jumped on a plane.

If you haven't been to Key West and are an adult, you must go. The entire island is catered to adults having fun. I feel so badly for the kids who are there; they look miserable and bored stiff. I really think Key West's website should stop pretending and just say "NO KIDS."

There are a lot of reasons why I love Key West and a lot of those could be applied to any tropical location - sun, laid back attitude, sailing, diving, snorkeling, drinking and general relaxation. Where Key West really shines is in its acceptance. Known for a huge annual festival called Fantasy Fest, Key West truly is a come as you are kinda place. There are drag shows every night (my favorite is at Club Aqua), gay bars with guys dancing on the bar and this time I saw a man dressed in gold lame' with a plunger attached to his crotch. Not every night is wild and crazy though (or at least it doesn't have to be.) Friday night Shelia and I pulled out two chairs and sat on the beach and watched the Perseid Meteor Shower for almost 3 hours. We talked and then we didn't talk and then we talked some more. And that is what makes Shelia a perfect travel companion - neither of us have to be "on" all the time. We can have fun doing nothing....or what we ended up doing Saturday.

As Shelia says, "Aqua kicked my ass again." After spending Saturday afternoon on the beach, we got to Aqua for the early show, stayed for the late show, though to be fair I hardly remember the late show. I was too busing making friends. There was drunk Leslie who was there with her boss/lover who literally was so drunk he kept dropping wads of dollar bills. There was Pat, the most unfeminine girl I have ever seen, who groped me but then apologized, which I thought was mighty nice of her. Then there was Brigitte Nielson and her husband who were looking for a friend to take home. After declining their nice offer, I introduced them to Leslie and I think everyone went home happy. We left Aqua and walked back to our hotel, stopping and dancing in the streets when we were outside a bar playing a good song. We stopped and got Shelia a veggie dog, met a nice guy and talked with him about his son, whom he clearly loved. The walk home was just fun.

Shelia slept late and I went to get breakfast on the beach one last time. It was quiet and I was alone and that was OK. I think one of the best things about being in my 30s is a general acceptance of who I am and who I am not. I'm never going to be thin and that is OK. I am never going to be rich either and that is also OK. I am lucky to have a fantastic family that I am close with. I have a husband who loves me and friends who support me, lift me up and challenge me to be a better person. All of those things make it OK to just be me. And to be totally me in a place that is accepting of that is an oddly comfortable and joyous experience. It's OK to be happily dancing in the streets and there is a good chance that some stranger will come up and dance with you. And that is OK too.

Leaving is always sad. We were tired, Shelia was hungover and neither of us were looking forward to the long travel back home. But I wouldn't trade the weekend for anything. It would be nice to be skinny, rich and famous, but it's pretty great just being me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I kicked Booty's butt...well maybe slapped it around a bit.

This past weekend was the 24 Hours of Booty, the Official 24 Hour Cycling Event of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Over 1300 cyclists come out to ride a 3 mile loop for up to 24 hours. The entire thing is a fundraiser for not only the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but also the Brain Tumor Fund of the Carolinas, so of course I wanted to be invovled. I conned Joe, Mike and Joe's cousin Mike to do the event with me. I had no idea what to expect but was pleasantly surprised on so many levels including fundraising, the actual event and my overall ability.

Fundraising - I was a bit apprehensive about asking people for money. The minimum was $240 so I set that as my goal. I put the link up on facebook, but only got 2 or 3 bids. I finally sent out "the letter" to family and close friends. Thanks to my dad and my aunt, I reached my goal pretty quickly so was happy. But I was ecstatic as the money kept coming in. As of today I have raised $645! Here's the thing about donations - the people you never expect, give, and the people you are sure are going to because of your relationship with them/the financial health they project, don't. I have one friend who is quite literally declaring bankruptcy. She donated. A former co-worker that I haven't seen in 10 years donated. A girl that I train with but hardly really know donated and asked her company to match the donation, which they did. It is amazing. I strive to be like these people. Times are tough for everyone, so I greatly appreciate everyone who helped and every single dollar that was donated.

The Event - The Booty Loop is a 3 mile loop and the Bootyville camping area is set up inside it. Mike and MaryBeth brought a tent and we had a nice area for our home. Before we knew it we were lining up for the first lap. Survivors went first and we followed in behind them. This was the scariest part of the whole event - 1500 cyclists of all abilities crammed into one street. Not even a mile into the event there was a major crash with a girl suffering a broken leg and concussion. We rode for 3 laps and then decided to eat dinner and wait for the bulk of people to go home. I had never ridden at night before so was excited to try it. I LOVE it. We would ride a few laps, come in, drink, eat and then go back out. Around midnight I got in line for a free massage while Mike and Joe went to sleep. My massage was fantastic...about 30 minutes...all for free. Afterwards I was actually wired. I went back to the tent but everyone was asleep. I walked around Bootyville, watched a little TV in the "living room" area they had set up and then decided to just ride. There were still probably 50 people on the course so it was nice. Around 4am I hit 67 miles, my goal, a tribute to my dad who will turn 67 this year (December 5, 2010). By this time Mike was up so we did a lap, just the two of us. This last lap with my brother was the highlight of the ride. I love my brother, but more importantly, I LIKE my brother. We chatted, pushed each other to ride faster and really enjoyed ourselves. My total mileage: 70. Mike rode a little more as he wanted to reach 100 miles and I went back to the tent to hang out with MaryBeth and Dexter. (Joe was still asleep!) There was breakfast at 6am and then Joe and I packed up and left for home. I was wired, but exhausted and really ready for a shower. Mike rode until around 8am when he hit the 100 mile mark and then also packed up for home. The event lasted until Saturday night, but I loved how we did it. We got home, took showers and promptly went to sleep.

I cannot speak more highly of the organizers of this event. I have put on events and know the kind of organization that is needed to pull something off. Every part of this was top notch. The layout, the amenities, the volunteers; all made me feel quite spoiled. I mostly go into these events for my benefit; sure I'll raise some money and I beleive in the cause, but mostly I do it because I want to push myself to do something athletic. I forget sometimes that there is the bigger picture, until it is 3AM and I am getting my 10th chocolate covered strawberry and I politely thank the volunteer and she grabs my hand and says "No, thank you for doing this."

I might have only raised $645 but I was treated like a queen by all the volunteers. The other cyclists were also warm and welcoming. When my chain fell off at a vital point, I had people stop and ask if I needed help. I never felt alone...I was surrounded by a huge cycling family. Most people slept at night but that didn't mean that the event stopped. Food, drinks, massages, TV, vendors were all staffed for 24 hours. There was even a bike shop that was up and doing minor repairs as needed.

I will without any hesitation do this event next year. We are already talking about expanding the TajmaTent so that we all have a place to lay down (Joe miraculously slept sitting up in two chairs). I'm ready to ride 100 miles and to raise even more money. Two thumbs up for booty!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Movie Reviews - Toys and Fun

Toy Story 3 - Pixar - ****
One of the benefits of having a child in your life is that you can go see all the great kids' movies. So over 4th of July weekend, Miller and I had a date to see Toy Story 3. I know I have seen the first two movies but couldn't quite remember the details. In case you are in this predicament, don't worry. The movie is sweet and sad and funny. I cannot imagine coming up with a film that can hold the attention span of both a 3 year old and a 36year old, but the geniuses at Pixar have done just that.

Andy is all grown up and is going off to school and his little sister Molly wants his room. Andy has to get rid of everything in his room by placing it in one of three things: a trash bag, a box labeled 'Attic' or a box labeled 'College'. This is a huge moment for all his old toys who wonder if they are going to the attic or to college. By mistake, all the toys except Woody end up on the curb. (Woody himself getting cherished 'college' box placement.). The toys including Buzz Lightyear and Barbie escape the trash truck but end up being donated to a local daycare.

I won't go into anymore details, but know I cried at the end. Not just water sliding silently down my cheek; big sobs that shook my body. Miller spent the movie on my lap and I cried into his head. We walked out of the movie and he looked like he had dipped his head in a pool. I know what you are thinking "You cried at Toystory??" Yes, I did and no, Andy does not die. I related to the heartbreak Andy goes through realizing he is growing up and can't take his childhood with him. I also related to the toys who were so much a part of his young life, but have since found themselves gathering dust. I still have my childhood animals Charlie Bear and Moo Moo Cow. I still have my Cabbage Patch Kid, diaper and all. I am amazed that I am a "grown up" when so many times I still feel like a child.

For Miller it was just a good movie that had Buzz Lightyear and garbage trucks. He got the overall plot of the movie and found it entertaining to sit still for two hours. For me it was a great movie that spoke to both versions of me; the grown up who pays the bills and the child who still wants to snuggle with Charlie Bear, even if he got his nose bitten off by Belle the dog. Both versions of me want to be loved and that is the universal theme in this movie; no matter who or what or how old, we all want someone to play with us.

Knight and Day - Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz - ***
Some movies provoke thought. Some call for change. Then there are summer flicks like Knight and Day, which are just fun. Tom Cruise is a polarizing character with his religious views and his social life (which I think is ridiculous that it even matters in comparison to Mel Gibson) but regardless, you have to admit he can act, he has on screen charisma and for a man in his late 40s, he looks really good. He has always been known for his action movies and his willingness to do his own crazy stunts, but recently his comedic side is getting a lot of press (Hello Les Grossman!) and I am quite glad. His character is funny in this movie and overall it is a cute, light, summer flick. Will it win an Oscar? No. It isn't breaking box office records for sure. We went on opening day and had less than 10 people in our theater. But the movie is silly fun and will have you snickering for days. Tom Cruise has been beaten up for the last few years and I for one would be OK if the mockery stopped. Even if his name is not synonymous with blockbuster, he is still poised to be a Hollywood legend, more so now than ever before. Go see this movie and don't worry about Tom's prospects for a future; He's got this.

June Music

Song Title..................................Artist
Guns & Horses ........................Ellie Goulding
Wavin' Flag............................. K'Naan
Private Jet ...............................Gomez
Prayin' .....................................Plan B
Quiet Things ...........................Brand New
Commander ...........................Kelly Rowland
Miami .....................................Foals
Ivy & Gold ..............................Bombay Bicycle Club
We Speak No Americano .......Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP
Self Machine............................I Blame CoCo
Withcraft ................................Pendulum
Islands.................................... The XX
The Boy Who Murdered Love.. Diana Vickers
We Used To Wait.....................Arcade Fire

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Trying on My Sea Legs

I have always been a boat person. I remember my first sailing trip in New Hampshire when I was 8. I loved it and from that time on I wanted to sail in a regatta. Sail around the world is my answer to "what would you do if you won the lottery?" So I was ecstatic when my dad out of the blue bought a 27 foot Watkins sailboat in January. Joe gets two weeks off in June so I decided we would sail to Key West and back, stopping and snorkeling along the way. The one problem: I didn't know how to sail.

In March I went to Charleston to take the American Sailing Association's Sailing 101 class. I passed the test but the most important thing I learned is that I was in no way ready to sail to the Keys. So we decided that our summer vacation would be a week on the boat, sailing around the river and the waterways, getting used to the boat and teaching Joe what he needed to know to be my first mate.

We headed down to Stuart with absolutely no idea what to expect. We had never seen the boat, never lived on one and Joe really doesn't have any experience with sailing at all. Our motto: It will be an adventure. Well, it is Thursday now and we have successfully lived on the boat since Saturday night. I'll save you all the details of our comedy of errors week, but here are some highlights:

  • We can't, nor really want to, figure out the toilet on board, so I have to walk a quarter mile each way to the bathroom. This is only a pain since I currently get up 2-3 times a night. The worst night was after a night of drinking so I had to get up every two hours. Total mileage for that night: 3.5 miles.
  • Trip 1 was ended after an hour of floating instead of sailing. There was absolutely no wind. We still had a good time, saw a dolphin and spent a good Father's Day with the entire family. As we docked, Joe fell in (with a tiny assist from me screwing his balance), lost his glasses and scratched the hell out of his hand on the pillar.
  • Trip 2 was the first time with me at the helm. We went out in low tide with the goal to teach Joe how to work the sails. We ended up accidentally jibbing (when the sail swings from one side to the other, my fault), almost throwing Mary Beth into the water and losing two of my mom's decorative pillows. We headed back on a time crunch, but we were heading against the current, directly into the wind and the engine spewed out black oil and smoke. I dropped the sails too quickly, we lost momentum and certainly had a moment of "hhhmpf. Now what?" Mike and I recovered and were able to slowly, but surely, make it back to the marina and Joe made it to his eye doc on time.

Things I've learned:

  • I know close to nothing about sailing.
  • Living on a boat at a marina is at the same time lonely and very social. Every night the people who are anchored come into the marina and hang out. They watch movies with each other, cook out and try to entertain themselves. One night "English John" brought out his guitar and sang songs while a group of 15 or so listened for over two hours.
  • Two things that are now a necessity for marina living: AC and quarters.
  • If you've heard the saying that BOAT stands for "Break Out Another Thousand", I'd believe it. We now need to get the hull scraped, the engine looked at, as well as a ton of other little things. Every encounter with a fellow boat owner is a conversation about what is currently wrong with his/her boat.
  • Set Plans and Sailing do not go together. We planned to sail each day. We sailed twice and are now unable to, due to possible engine issues. English John had engine issues and was told it would take a week to fix. Four weeks later, he finally got his engine back and was underway to the BVI. I may be a planner, but I am flexible when things change and can go with the flow. Joe is bothered by any change in plans. He has been great so far "making the best of it" but I know it is wearing on him and not what he really wanted for his vacation.
  • Despite using essentially a lawn chair cushion for a bed and a decorative pillow, I have never slept better or harder than I do while being gently rocked all night long.
  • Even with all the issues and not being able to actually sail, I was genuinely very happy and content as we sat on the back of the boat, eating dinner, watching the sun set. It would have been perfect if we were in the ocean doing that, but even in the marina, it was exactly where I wanted to be at that moment.

I don't know if living on a boat will ever happen for us. Right now we can't even agree on what kind of boat we would want. I still love sailboats and Joe wants the speed and flexibility of a powerboat. This week has been a glimpse of what life would be like and even with all the hiccups, I honestly think I could do it. Until that day happens, I know I have my dad's boat that I can use any time I want to practice using my sea legs, and right now that is enough of an adventure for me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May Music Favorites

I cannot believe it is June already! Here are my favorite songs in May:

Song Title - Artist
Hannah - Freelance Whales
Ramblin Man - Laura Marling
3 Words - Cheryl Cole/Will I. Am.
Rill Rill - Sleigh Bells (This was also in April - so if you haven't checked them out yet, do it now!)
Sleepy Head - Passion Pit
Colorful Day - Alan Pownall
Pencil Full of Lead - Paolo Nutini
Sticks and Stones - Jamie T.
Counterpoint - Delphic
After Hours - We Are Scientists
Turn It Up - Pixie Lott

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Movie Review- SATC2

Sex and the City 2 - Sarah Jessica Parker - All The Other Girls - Max Ryan- **
I used to love SATC and watched it from day one. In the beginning it was groundbreaking and inspiring and I saw each of my friends in one of the girls. (I was always Miranda). Towards the end I fell out of love with the show, though still watched. I liked Aidan. I wanted her to choose Aleksandr. But I still watched. The first movie came out and even though I was anti Mr. Big, I still went on opening night, with 10 other girls, laughed and got a little teary eyed.

So SATC 2 was released last Thursday and even though the reviews were horrible, I still wanted to go. I just felt like after watching so religiously for so many years, I had to keep up with these girls, so I lowered my expectations and went with Erin on Friday afternoon.

The movie starts off at the wedding of the two main gay guy friends of Carrie and Charlotte. The wedding is over the top, the outfits are over-over the top. Carrie's hair looks like a bad 80s crimper went crazy. So yeah, basic Sex and the City. It's been 2 years since Carrie and Big got married. Miranda is stressed at work and still trying to be a mom. Charlotte is having a rough time being a mom and having a harder time dealing with how hard it is for her. Samantha is still having sex with anything. Carrie is at that point where she is realizing since she and Big will not have kids, this is her life. At the wedding another couple asks if they are going to have kids. She says no and the couple says "But what are you going to do? It's just going to be YOU?" and then immediately turns around and stops the conversation. Then Big buys her a TV for their anniversary (so they could snuggle in bed and watch old movies) and this throws Carrie into marriage crisis mode.

Samantha ends up being hired as the publicist for a swanky new place in Abu Dhabi and takes the girls on a trip where of course, madness ensues. Samantha oozes sex in a place where that is illegal, Charlotte freaks out because she can't talk to her husband and Carrie runs into Aidan and drama ensues. Ahh the drama. Some of the scenes with Samantha are actually hard to watch. We get it - you are 55 and like having sex, but you don't have to be rude and inconsiderate (In fact, the movie was filmed in Morocco since shooting in Dubai or Abu Dhabi was denied based on moral objections) . Erin actually covered her eyes at times. The guys in it are so one dimensional it is an insult to the actors. Carrie is upset because Big is sweet and romantic? And yet, I have to admit, I did laugh out loud.

There are parts of this movie that seem real, but mostly it just seems like it is a set up for bad jokes and puns, mostly involving Samantha. It is more than anything a chick flick and I would actually say on its own it is kinda cute. But knowing what the show used to be made me a little sad. These four girls were perfectly flawed, strong yet insecure. Their friendship got them through the ups and downs and the stories that played out were relatable to any girl. The closest thing to that is a great moment between Miranda and Charlotte where Charlotte finally breaks down and admits that being a mom is hard and she isn't handling it well. That scene reminded me of the honest conversations that used to happen on the show. In this movie the girls are caricatures of the characters they usually played and that made the whole movie seem a little pathetic. Maybe I've just grown up and the SATC girls haven't. They make fun of Miranda for planning excursions and learning the speak the language. The thing that Carrie fears most in the world is becoming an "old married couple." I actually asked Erin "what's wrong with being an old married couple?"

If you were a SATC fan, lower your expectations and go see it. You will think it is cute and you might even want to hug your friends. Just don't think too much about what it used to be or what it could have been if the writers had stayed true to what the show was great at: showing women struggling with everyday life and getting by with the help of their friends.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

April Music Favorites

Four months into keeping track of my favorite new hits and I am so glad I am doing this. If you are a music junkie, I'd recommend doing something similar.

Song Title ............................... Artist
Heartbeat Song.............................. Futureheads
I Saw You Blink ............................. Stornoway
She Said ............................ ..............Plan B
Chasing June ...................................Alan Pownall
Symphonies ............................ ........Dan Black
Bubbles ............................................ Biffy Clyro
Drunk Girls ...................................... LCD Soundsystem
Felicia ............................................... Constellations
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah ............................ New Politics
Mountains ........................................ Biffy Clyro
Grown on the Ground ..................... Sleigh Bells
Rill Rill... ........................................... Sleigh Bells
Lay Me Down ................................... Dirty Heads
Zorbing .............................................. Stornoway
You Will Leave A Mark .................. A Silent Film
Tighten Up ....................................... Black Keys

Movie Review- Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 - Robert Downey Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke - *****
I loved the first Iron Man so was more than excited to see Iron Man 2 and luckily was not disappointed. Iron Man 2 is going to be a huge success and will stand up as one of the best summer action flicks. When you see it, you will agree with me.

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his famed role of Iron Man with the perfect balance of snark, sex appeal and self centered asshole-ness. Despite his flaws, he is a likable character and it is easy to see Downey in this role, or rather that Downey might actually be this person. Mickey Rourke is OK but not really given much to work with other than "Be a menacing Russian Physicist with dirty nails". I'm not going to go into too much detail because it is Iron Man 2 and there really doesn't need to be a lot said about it. There is a bad guy, a smarmy bad guy, a good guy turned bad guy, secret agents, hot women, government trying to take the "weapon" from him and a WHOLE lotta action.

But overall this movie is fun to see. The dialogue is witty, the technology (and Downey himself) is cool, the women are smart, strong and gorgeous and the effects are incredibly good. It is hard to make a good sequel but Jon Favreau has done just that. Sure, it's predictable and a bit corny, but you should go see this movie expecting an action packed, good time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Movie Reviews - Chicks Flick, Social Commentary and Polanksi Oh My!

I love going to movies and I REALLY love when there are less than 10 people in the theater. So I was pretty happy about my birthday weekend movie pics - all less than 10 people!

The Back-Up Plan - Jennifer Lopez, Alex McLaughlin - **
I have to say a HUGE thank you to Sarah Waterrose for going to see this movie with me. Sarah's not a huge chick flick viewer and the thought of seeing a movie with J-Lo, all about having babies, probably made her skin crawl. But she hung in there in honor of my birthday week. She wins Friend of the Month!! I wanted to see this movie because of Alex McLaughlin, who I loved in Moonlight a few years ago. That show was not bad, but got cancelled. Then he starred in Three Rivers, which quickly got cancelled. I think he needs to fire his agent as his work choices are steadily going down hill. The Back Up Plan is a cute premise, and J-Lo's nose is equally adorable, but overall this movie is not great. J-Lo is a thirty something single woman who knows she wants a family but doesn't have a man in her life. She decides to be a single mom and be artificially inseminated. She leaves the fertility clinic, jumps in a cab and meets McLoughlin's character, who has jumped in the same cab from the other side. Through a series of coincidences, they run into each other a few more times and eventually start to date, just as J-Lo realizes she is pregnant. McLoughlin decides to stick around and hilarity and drama ensue. This could be a really cute movie, but J-Lo's character is just annoying and McLoughlin is too perfect. Not to be old-fashioned, but I couldn't help but walk away from this movie thinking that it is bad for society and young women to see this. It's easy it is to have a baby, even twins! Who worries about money? You'll be happy, well rested and perfect if you have a baby or babies, even if you do it alone! UGH. If movies have a responsibility to not show characters smoking to limit teenage smoking, I think the same should be said for glamorizing parenthood. As for The Back Up Plan, skip it. Wait and check out McLaughlin in the upcoming Hawaii Five-0. He'll be just as cute and you won't want to vomit, or impetuously procreate.

Ghost Writer - Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Timothy Hutton and Olivia Williams - ****
Obviously Roman Polanksi is well known as a director but I was not familiar with his work, only his legal woes (vast understatement). A quick search of revealed that I had not seen a single movie he wrote or directed, until Ghost Writer, and now I want to see more. Ghost Writer is a mystery, spy thriller intelligently done. McGregor is hired to finish the memoirs of the former British Prime Minister after the previous ghost writer suddenly turns up dead. The pace is slow, characters are developed well as the intrigue builds and McGregor finds more details that put his life in jeopardy. The cast (with the exception of Cattrall who bugged me) is supreme and Olivia Williams (most recently in Dollhouse) steals the show. Check out this movie for a nod to how movies used to be; well thought out pieces of art.

The Joneses - David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Gary Cole- ****
I tweet, I facebook. I am usually an early adopter, if not, definitely in the early majority. I also work in sales and have a marketing and public relations background. So I really appreciated The Joneses, a movie about self marketing. Duchovny and Moore along with their two children move into an upscale neighborhood, sporting all the coolest clothing, toys and food. Their life looks perfect, except it is all a fake. They are not a family, they are a team of sales people whose job is to introduce specific products into the marketplace. They seem cool and trendy and others want to buy the showcased items in order to "keep up with the Joneses". I won't say any more because I think this movie is better if you know nothing about it. Go see it. You will leave thinking about what you buy, why you buy it and the state of consumerism in America. Plus, Demi Moore looks gorgeous, David Duchovny solidly remains in my top 3 and you will be thinking about Gary Cole for hours afterwards.

Monday, April 26, 2010

TV Picks- Summer Lovin!

Last year Erin got rid of cable during the summer because she thought there was "nothing on." GASP! Even though summer gets its share of crap stuff, there is plenty to check out to keep you from being active, reading or having a life.

Here are my picks for Summer 2010 TV Season as well as commentary. (Please note CBS had not released its lineup as of 4/26)

Lie to Me, FOX: This show is based on the real life research of Cal Lightman (played by Tim Roth). The story lines sometime mirror actual events and have a good mix of drama, humor and intelligent dialogue. Lightman studies lies and can tell who is lying and who is telling the truth. One of the neatest features is the collection of real world, famous"liars" demonstrating the small facial ticks that the episode has highlighted. It is neat to watch and I guarantee you will study people more after watching. Returns June 7th

The Good Guys, FOX: The previews for this look really, really stupid and not in a funny way. BUT, J'adore Bradley Whitford so will probably give it a shot. Begins June 7th

Last Comic Standing, NBC: The first years of this were great. Then it became less reality and more a showcase for the less than funny comedians the network wanted to promote. So if The Good Guys sucks, I might check this out just to see if by any chance in hell the "talent scouts" actually put the really funny people through. Returns June 7th

Persons Unknown, NBC: I don't know much about this other than the creator is the same guy that did The Usual Suspects, which I loved. Alan Ruck stars and those two facts are enough for me to give it our usual three tries. Begins June 7th


Warehouse 13, SyFy: So this is probably the summer programming of which most think; light, fluffy, low production budget, but to me it is also fun and a little cheesy. Returns July 13


So You Think You Can Dance, FOX: I have watched this religiously since day 1. Judge all you want, but this show makes me happy. Returns June 2nd

Happy Town, ABC: This is a new drama which I will give my standard 3 episode try. A sleepy town begins to have unexplined kidnappings. The cast is noteworthy, starring Steven Weber, Sam Neill, Frances Conroy and Dean Winters. It begins April 28, so I'd check it out and go from there. Begins April 28th


SYTYCD Results Show, FOX: meh. Sometimes I skip this. I just want to know who got kicked off.

Burn Notice, USA: If you have not seen this show, you MUST. It is smart, funny, sexy and just a good time. If that recommendation doesn't sell you, I have one name for you: Bruce Campbell. I KNOW! This show is a must watch in my household. Returns June 3rd

Royal Pains, USA: If Burn Notice is a scoring home run, USA gets a double with Royal Pains....maybe a single. It is great Sunday afternoon couch TV. If you fall asleep while watching, no biggie. Returns June 3rd


Eureka, SyFy: My inner geek squealed when Shelia told me about this show starring hottie Colin Ferguson in a show about a town full of geniuses. Smart, hot boys? I'm in. Ferguson's character isn't a genius, but he is adorable and the show is a fun way to kill some time. If you haven't seen it, check out the Eureka marathon on SyFy on May 9th. Season 4 returns July 9th

Haven, SyFy: This is a new show starring Eric Balfour. I first remember Balfour from Six Feet Under but turns out he was in Kids Incorporated! and has worked steadily since 1991. I like him even though he oozes smarm, and I generally like SyFy's programming so will give this a 3 episode go. Begins July 9th.

(yep, I skipped Saturday. Saturdays are for catching up on all the TV I TiVo'd that week, movies and UFC fights) Sunday is a big day and I have to think HBO is to blame for this, since Sunday was the day for cool new programs. Luckily most of these shows air multiple times a week so TiVo will help me catch them all.

Weeds, Showtime: Last year was good. Last year's cliff hanger was great. Hopefully this season will be fantastic. Returns August 16th.

The Gates, ABC: Not a lot of details on this one other than it is a drama about a sleepy mountain town (or is it?!) and a family that moves into a gated community there. Drama and crimes ensue. Begins June 20th

Rubicon, AMC: I like James Badge Dale (The Black Donnellys and The Pacific) and think the shows he picks are smart and edgy. So I will give this one a go: (from AMC's press release, April 2010) "Rubicon" is a conspiracy thriller set in a NYC-based government intelligence agency, API, where nothing is what it seems. The series focuses on a beleaguered analyst, Will Travers, who, faced with a shocking tragedy, begins to uncover clues that point to a complex and
sinister conspiracy. Begins August 1st

Ocho Cinco, VH1: This might be trash or it might be great TV. Either way I am sure it is going to office water cooler worthy, at least in the beginning. Begins July 11th

Next Food Network Star, Food Network: I have watched this off and on for a number of years. Sometimes I care, sometimes I don't. I'll check it out and see if I care this year. Returns June 6th

Big C, Showtime: This is a new show about a woman who has cancer. I loved Oliver Platt in Huff and am a recent fan of Gabourey Sidibe after SNL 4/24/10 so I will check this out. Begins August 16

Top Shot, History Channel: This is a new reality game show that highlights those crazy shots that have been told throughout the years; William Tell shooting an apple off his son's head, Annie Oakley using a mirror to shoot a rifle over her shoulder. I am by no means a gun girl (they make me cry) but I am amazed with creative marksmanship so I will check this out. Begins June 6th.

Leverage, TNT: I like Timothy Hutton and the rest of this cast is watchable enough. The stories are OK and I put this in our summer TiVo rotation just in case there isn't anything on. Sometimes we watch it, sometimes we don't. So if you are bored, check it out. If not, you aren't missing anything amazing. Returns June 20th

So there are my Summer 2010 television picks. As soon as the Fall Schedules are released I will do a Fall Picks (usually in May). Happy TV Watching!

A Woman Who Inspires

Triathlon season is heating up again and I am VERY ready and excited to get back into some hardcore training. I wish it wasn't true, but I don't push myself as hard alone as with other people. Last year I stumbled upon the training group Tri It For Life. This women's only group is dedicated to inspiring women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and abilities to develop healthy lifestyles through multi-sport training, mentorship and commitment. The group was founded by Alyse Kelly-Jones, a local OBGYN, wife, mother who went through medical school while raising children, and most recently Ironman 4th place finisher.

I have been in awe of Alyse because of the impact she has made on my life, my attitude about myself and what I can do. I share her passion about multi-sports and that anyone can do it. (Yes, anyone). Saturday I finally got up off my butt and joined a small group run on the parkway which included Alyse. After the 4 mile run we all gathered at Starbucks for some coffee, oatmeal, and post run stretching. One of the ladies there was passing around a program. Turns out that on Friday, Alyse and her husband attended a black tie affair because she was named one of Charlotte's Most Influential Woman. The article was a quick snapshot into her life. In addition to starting Tri It For Life, she also founded the Center for Sexual Health and Education. And did I mention she placed 4th in an Ironman? In case you aren't sure what an Ironman is, a participant first swims 2.4 miles in an ocean, then bikes 112 miles THEN runs a marathon. All in one day. I followed Alyse's progress the day she did her Ironman. I slept a little late and lazily flopped down on the couch as she was getting in the water. I watched a movie, ate breakfast and took a shower. I decided to run some errands as she was starting her bike ride. I spent the day grocery shopping, grabbing lunch and completing various other tasks. I was eating the last bites of dinner as she was finishing the bike ride. As I curled up on the couch for the night, she was BEGINNING a marathon. I watched another movie and was getting ready for bed when she finished. What different days we had. I am nervous at the prospect of running 13 miles and she did 26 miles AFTER being active for a full 10 hours beforehand. Amazing.

Actually, amazing doesn't begin to describe Alyse as there are a host of things I admire about her, but there are three that stand out for me.
  1. On Saturday she seemed almost embarrassed about her award and recognition. She is completely humble about her athletic success and the impact she has made on so many women.
  2. She has a belly and hips. If you saw her on the street you would NEVER think she is in supreme physical strength. She looks like any other size 12 or 14 woman, yet she is far from average. I was so nervous for my first swim session last year. I am pretty comfortable with my body (saggy boobs, dimples and all) but was still hesitant walking into a pool with triathletes imagining sculpted and defined bods. I was so glad to see fat women, short women, too skinny women. Body type does not determine health or ability. I am proud to be fat and fit.
  3. She has a full time job as an OBGYN. She is raising three children. She has a husband and at least two non profit groups that she founded (that I know of), and yet she trained and completed an Ironman. So many people say "Oh I can't do that" or "I don't have the time". Really? Please don't ever say that to me. If she can make it happen, so can anyone.

Today in a work meeting my boss was talking about change and told us a story of a man who was in his living room when the lights suddenly go out. Startled, he drops his keys. It's pitch black so he fumbles around but can't find them. He looks outside and sees a lamp post on and he realizes that looking in the dark is stupid so moves outside to look for his keys. (I know, bear with me). So he stands below the light and looks for his keys but of course he can't find them because they are inside. The moral: You are not going to find what you are looking for if you are looking in the wrong place. So many people look outside themselves when really the answer is inside them. My boss just ran a half marathon and said she is constantly amazed when people say "Oh I could never do that". Yes, you can. I felt the same way after I finished my triathlon; I honestly felt like I could have done anything. You know what? I can. All I need to do is set a goal, create a training plan, actually do the training, and execute the plan. Whether the goal is personal (to lose weight, run a marathon or perhaps do an Ironman), professional (get a promotion, change careers), financial (pay off debt, go on more vacations), it doesn't matter. The premise is the same. My birthday is in two days. I will be 36 and I feel more alive, happier and excited about the future than ever before. I owe a lot of that to Alyse's encouragement to do a triathlon, and what accomplishing that did for my self esteem.

My modest hope for the future is that one day I can be a woman who inspires, much like Alyse inspires me. Completing an Ironman is impressive and brag worthy. But to me the real accomplishment is that I now think I might want to do one. Me, the fat, un-athletic, lazy, slow person who watches way too much TV and sometimes eats ice cream sundaes for breakfast, is actually thinking about possibly doing an ironman one day.

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside of us is something valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit. ---------e.e. cummings