Thursday, March 7, 2013

Let's pretend I didn't write this: A book review

I was compensated for the following BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

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The older couple, who lived up the street, would pack up the truck on Sunday night and troll people's trash for treasures. Treasures like Betty Boop paraphernalia, which lined the walls in such numbers that you couldn't see the paint. The matriarch of the family next door had a bingo addiction so fierce that she would hit up two games a night. And the brother of a friend did things to Barbies that I didn't understand until I saw "Clerks."

And yet, it was my father's addition to our animal menagerie that made us the weirdest family on our street in a fairly urban area of Cincinnati.

A stuffed raccoon. Which was placed strategically on the 55-gallon fish tank, filled with goldfish-eating Oscars, that he used as a room divider between the living and dining areas of our small ranch.

And so it was great empathy that I read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson, better known as The Bloggess.
When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it. In the irreverent "Let’s Pretend This Never Happened," Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.
There are times as a writer – one who has published both non-fiction and fiction – when I read something and go, “Holy crap! I wish I could write like this person.”

And that’s exactly what happened as I read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened."

Lawson’s eccentric childhood tales are made to be told – from the squirrel puppet to “pet” turkeys following her to school – but what makes them, all strung together, a good book is her unforgiving, almost offensive writing style. It is laugh-out-loud funny, and I often found myself reciting passages to Mark as he tried to grade papers on the couch ... and drive ... and do the dishes. Lawson writes in such a way that you feel as if you are having a glass of wine (or several bottles) with an old and recounting the atrocities inflicted upon you by your parents.

Except most parents don’t throw a semi-docile bobcat on your future spouse.

I guess that this would be a good place to mention that this book is not for you if you are sensitive to the treatment of animals, are easily offended, do not like the use of swear words, never fight with your spouse or don’t see humor in those arguments and were never scarred by your parents.

As for me, my dad threw a dead Beta fish in my hair thinking it was a dried, crumply leaf and let our pet bird fly around the house for funsies as I locked myself in the bathroom in terror. Scarred and hard to offend, I am.

You can find out more about Jenny Lawson's "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" on the BlogHer Book Club page and join the discussion.. If you would like to read an interview with Lawson, you can find it here.

Spring? Spring? Where for out thou, Spring?

To be updated with more photos ...

As I flipped the calendar page to March, visions of early morning runs outdoors and family outings with the BOB danced in my head. I mentally unpacked my "seasonal" running clothes and dreamed of my offensively bright Nike Tempo shorts. Sunny, blue skies and paper white blooms colored my world.

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And then I opened the door. To this.

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I assure you that I'm not taking offense to my husband - at least today - but the 8 inches of snow Mother Nature decided to gift us last night. It was 8 inches of school-canceling, bring-out-the-crazy-driver foolishness that should not happen in March. January? Yes. February? OK. March? HELLS TO THE NO.

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Even though Miles look incredibly cute and Oompa Loompa-esque in his snow pants - the first time we've had cause to bust them out all winter - I just want it all to go away. I want the mornings to be a balmy (and safe) 40 degrees. I want to wear thin sweaters and skirts. I want to show off my pedicure in flip-flops.

And most of all I want sun and the need to wear sunglasses.

The Sunglasses Shop, which offers designer sunglasses from companies such as Oakley and Ray-Ban, recently gave me the opportunity to try a pair of SXUC frames. I went with a pair of aviators in an attempt to feel cool. Or at least a smidge cooler than a tired mom who listened to the neighbor kids play in the street until 11:45 p.m.

The SXUC frames are sturdy and stylish and while maybe not the greatest style for me, I love them.

And you can, too. The Sunglasses Shop has offered one reader a pair of aviators of her very own. To enter, visit The Sunglasses Shop website and tell me which style is your favorite. Additional entries can be earned for following The Sunglasses Shop on Twitter, on Facebook and Google+. Leave a comment for each.

The contest is open to U.S. residents only and will end at midnight Wednesday, March 13. The winner will be announced Thursday, March 14, and she will have 72 hours to claim her prize via email.  Disclosure: I was given a pair of Sunglasses Shop at no cost but I was not compensated for this post and all opinions and words are my own.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bring on the random

I have a giveaway post to be published later today but I feel inclined to write something now. And for those of you tired of giveaways, this one is the last for a while.


I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love, love stalking people and staying connected to those who don't float in and out of my daily existence on a regular basis. But I hate, hate, hate how Facebook manages to make you feel like crap.

Case in point: A recent comment on the FWTC page.

The track club posted on its page about logging miles this weekend after the snow clears. I mentioned that my nearby park is great, and it's easy to do a long run on the greenway without worrying about sections being closed to flooding. The next person posted that clear trails are for summer and she was going to be at a state park that's 45 minutes or so from the sitting, getting dirty in the mud and slush. Whoever posts on behalf the club agreed that COL was a great option for Sunday.

Great. Good for you. Except running trails and coming home caked in mud doesn't make your run better nor does it make you more hard core. And given that I already feel guilty each and every time I set out for a long run, leaving Mark with Miles duty, I'm certainly not going to leave them for four hours to log the 11 miles I hope to this weekend. Also, it's not like they can tag along. The BOB Ironman was made for running, not hiking.

So eff you and your little excursion. I'll be on the greenway with a stroller and my clean shoes.


I'm picking up the Tuesday night BODYPUMP class at the gym for a while (I think) as the instructor and his wife just had a baby at 23 weeks. (If you are the prayer sort, say some for them.)

Anyway, I was scheduled to teach and was counting on that workout last night. What I was not counting on was the weather closing the gym. And so I found myself driving to Pizza Hut to join the crew rather than the gym. I had already had a snack but indulged in breadsticks, broccoli soup and a half-slice of pizza.

As one can assume, the idea of an hour-long replacement workout was not that appetizing (pun intended). I opted to study my ACE materials for a half-hour and go all out for a half-hour in the basement, trying my hand at Tabatas.

The workout:
  • 5-minute Jane Fonda-esque warm-up
  • Tabata 1: Sumo squat high-pull
  • 1 minute jump rope
  • Tabata 2: Alternating lunges with hammer curl
  • 1 minute jump rope
  • Tabata 3: Deadlift with row
  • 1 minute jump rope
  • Tabata 4: Air squats
  • 1 minute jump rope
  • 3 x 1-minute planks
During the workout, I felt like I was working but didn't feel wiped after and so I worried it wasn't enough. My inner thighs and upper hamstrings are saying otherwise today.


Food poisoning might have gotten the best of me last week but I still managed to grab a cup of coffee and speak on a panel about weight loss during the most recent My Healthy City breakfast. 

There were two other people on the panel, both of whom had lost more than 100 pounds, and we discussed what we did, what worked and what would help others. It was a really interesting opportunity for me as every time I discuss my weight loss, I feel like I learn more about the journey to obesity and back.

The coordinator had some video shot and made it available online. It's a time investment to watch it all but there were some interesting points about skin removal surgery and relapsing.



Give me something random. I need entertainment. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring Training: Week 9

Spring Training posts document my training for the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon on March 30 and my "A" race, the Wisconsin Marathon half, on May 4.

The week, in training:

Monday: TurboFire Stretch 40 + 3 miles
Tuesday: Unplanned rest (stomach bug)
Wednesday: 25 minutes TurboFire + 20 minutes strength
Thursday: 1 mile + led circuit class (only did cardio) + taught BODYPUMP
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: BODYPUMP (taught)
Sunday: 9.25 miles, long

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I am a monster. A green-eyed, jealous monster. 

I will look at other people's training logs and lust over high mileage and intense speedwork sessions. I see how fast other people go and long to be a glimmer of what I used to be. I talk to people who qualify for Boston and silently sulk that the only way I'll ever be able to run the capstone Boston Marathon is to do it wearing a charity bib.

It's terrible. I'm terrible. And I feel terrible that I think I'm terrible. 

But, the other day, I had an epiphany of sorts. Or a cup of coffee with an amazing, radiant woman.

I write a column of sorts for the paper called What's Your Workout? and I profile area residents and - you guessed it - their exercise routines. I started it in an effort to show people that the average Joe (or Jane in this case) can accomplish amazing things with the same demands that we all face. This month's column was about a marathon runner who recently qualified for the Boston Marathon. She didn't wake up one day, decide to run a marathon and lucked out that she "naturally" runs 7-minute miles and qualify in one attempt. Instead, she worked hard, worked her way up in distance, incorporated cross training and ran FOUR marathons before coming in under 3:45.

I was completely awestruck as we talked. It wasn't just her determination but her balance in dedication to training, being a mother (you should see her face light up when she mentions her daughter's name) and raising awareness for a good cause. You see, not only is she a great athlete, she is a cancer survivor and is now campaigning for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Woman of the Year on behalf of a 3-year-old boy with blood cancer. Just as she picked a lofty goal in Boston, she has in the campaign: to raise $100,000 for research. You know I rarely talk about donating money but here's her blog and a link if you are interested in reading more.

Anyway, back to running. While we were talking, I asked her what her motivation was and how she found it in her to get up at 4:15 to work out. Her response? If you want it bad enough, you'll do it.

And that's what I have to ask myself: What do I want and do I want it bad enough to put in the WORK? (Yes, WORK earns an all caps designation here.) I can get up earlier if I want to log higher mileage. I can learn to be more uncomfortable in my runs to push harder in training. I can do more than what will get me across the finish. If I want it.

I don't have the answer to the question, and I'm really trying to think about it this week. To search that heart of mine to decide what it's craving and what it needs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Heal. Heel!

Look who's back ...

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Three weeks, almost to the hour, Mark and I took Denali out for his first run since being hit by a car and Denali didn't look back - except to see why we were dragging.

The vet gave us no clear guidelines as to how long we should keep him from exercise but Denali's behavior last week was more than indicative that he was back t normal. He no longer scowled when getting up and any evidence of a limp was impossible to detect. He wanted to go outside 10 times an hour, he darted after bunnies and he started getting "jumpy" whenever he would see one of us lace up a pair of sneakers.

If those weren't sure signs, I don't know what they are.

I had initially planned to take Denali out for tonight's recovery run but when we had a nice window for everyone to join me for the first part of my long run Sunday, we decided to go with it. Miles got some warm clothes on, Mark layered up and Denali rocked his collar + poop bag combo. Just like old times.

We made sure to keep it easy, as to not aggravate any injury, and were on the watch for any sign of an interrupted gait or discomfort. The pace was relaxed as we headed toward the park and down the greenway, and I was elated to see that Denali was trotting along almost effortlessly. He didn't pull with relentless enthusiasm like the days of yore but he did keep up and showed no signs of dragging.

Just as with a human injury, we didn't want to push Denali and kept him to a 5K as we were sure he didn't lose all of his fitness. He seemed like he worked, taking a big rest break on the rug, but not wiped the way we would have been had I tried to take him for the remainder of my 9 miles (holla for cutback weeks!).

And since he did so well yesterday, I think I'll still bring him along for my recovery run - if only so I don't have to carry my pepper spray. We'll ease him in slowly, maybe a few 3-milers a week, and increase his mileage a bit as he gets stronger. Maybe he'll even train for the Veterans Marathon with me.

Or not. Maybe he doesn't need to build that much endurance.