August 28, 2011

Runner's Brain

In exactly one week, with any luck, I will be sitting on my couch, tired feet propped up, iced coffee in hand (or perhaps even something a bit stronger), and a shiny finisher's medal around my neck. Yep, the race that has been so many months away for, well, months... is now next weekend. Can you feel the nerves radiating from this blog? Because I'm not so sure those rumblings last week weren't just the crazy palpitations of my heart, beating straight through my feet and shaking things up from Toronto to North Carolina. 
To be totally honest, I'm not sure why I'm so nervous. I've made it through two 13.5 mile runs in the past two months, and neither time was the urge to lie down and die on the side of the road so large that I couldn't talk myself through it. I've powered through huge hills and oppressive heat, sore muscles and interval workouts, mental walls and legs that feel like concrete slabs. I've experienced technical problems, animal encounters, and one slightly embarrassing tumble. All in all, I've run hundreds of miles in preparation for these 13.1.
But despite all that, I know that when I get to that starting line next week at the crack of dawn, I'm going to be terrified. My stomach will be doing unhappy little flips, and my mind is likely to come up with a million reasons that I'm crazy to even consider this. I'm not a runner, I'm a girl who started running to combat stress, worry, and the occasional cupcake. I stuck with it for the sense of accomplishment, calm, and the slightly diminished guilt about all the frozen yogurt. I'm a girl who knows very little about running, but kind of enjoys it... most days. I'm not really a runner. 
But the other people who will be running in a week? They are runners. Who probably followed training plans written by people other than themselves. Who have probably been running consistently for more than 6 months. Who probably move a little faster than my preferred "slow and steady" pace, while not looking like they're about to melt into a large puddle of sweat. Who are motivated by more than just a large bowl of pasta.
All I can hope is that these runners will inspire me, welcome me, and maybe even push me a little. I can hope that my nerves will give me a jump-start. I can hope that the memories of all my training runs, both the good and the bad, will carry me through the tough miles with confidence. I can hope that the adrenaline of thousands of runners, hundreds of onlookers, and awesome volunteers will help me forget how long 13.1 miles can really feel. And if nothing else, I can hope that the iced coffee waiting for me just past the finish line will be enough to get me there in one piece. Because my one and only goal for this little adventure? To cross the finish line. Alive. And smiling.


August 25, 2011


Hurray for making it through Wednesday! Now it's just a downhill slide into the weekend... and hopefully a quick one. Right now my life is consumed with lots of little things... nothing quite as huge as the 20 seconds or so of crazy shaking yesterday that scared the daylights out of me while it lasted (I work in the basement of a 5 story building that sounded very much like it was going to come down on top of me). Nope, life has been more like the little rumblings that have followed: fragmented, slightly exciting, but thankfully non-cataclysmic.
 -- I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to a weekend without a double-digit run -- as much as I've been loving logging long runs on the weekends, I am cautiously tapering for the race Labor Day weekend. As a beginner, I get the feeling that I'm probably not worthy of a long, leisurely taper, but lately I've been running as many as 40 miles a week and my legs are feeling great, so I'm backing off a little so that they will be fresh. Now if only I was feeling just as great mentally... I'm getting nervous and my stomach has started to do a little flip-flop every time I think about that starting line. Hopefully a weekend of relaxation by the pool, extra sleep, and cuddling with Toby will help me calm down and get my head in the game.
 -- In a continuing effort to eat my favorite pasta sauce for as many meals as humanly possible, I made a pizza tonight with whole wheat crust, spinach, onion, garlic, mushroom, feta, and plenty garlic parmesan goodness. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but I was pretty impressed with the results. Next time, though, I think I will try to saute the spinach and garlic a little before adding them to the crust and baking.  The best part, though, is that I have plenty of leftovers for lunches and dinners. Yum!
 -- I'm watching House Hunters International (just a little research for the day that Dan and I can afford to move to Fiji) and this couple is relocating their SIX KIDS from Detroit to Normandy, France. Brave or crazy? I hope they pick the former church convent.
 -- The last several nights, I have been completely wiped by 10:00. Despite all my running, I basically sit all day at work... since when is that exhausting? I have no idea how I made it through 4 years of college, when 1:00 was an early bedtime.
 -- Speaking of college, boy do I miss it these days. Especially with Dan gone, I really miss being just minutes away from all of my friends, awesome places to eat, beautiful streets to run, and lots of places to just hang out outside and enjoy the weather as it turns the corner towards fall. I even mentioned to Dan that I kind of miss the classes -- there are days that I'd much rather sit through an interesting lecture and spend hours reading than go to work. A sign that I'm ready to go back to school? I sure hope so....
Happy almost-Thursday, everyone!



August 21, 2011

Silent Sundays: My Furry Alarm Clock

This is what I woke up to this morning:
Yep, a little bundle of fur all curled up on my chest, nose about an inch from my own, purring like crazy. 
Don't be fooled by the sweet face into thinking this positioning has anything to do with love... nope, the little oinker was just hungry. Before my feet even hit the ground, he was off to stand by his bowl and meow pitifully.
But still, I suppose there are worse ways to wake up.



August 19, 2011

Friday Favorites: Better Together

It's been a crazy-frustrating-annoying day so far. But that's (thankfully) not what we're here to talk about. Because frankly, Fridays can be as crazy-frustrating-annoying as they'd like, and they're still about a billion times better than certain other days of the week (that's right, Tuesday... I'm looking at you).
Interestingly enough, my favorite things this week have fit neatly into little pairs, so here we go: an Ernie and Bert/coffee and chocolate/hugs and kisses edition of Friday Favorites:

After this week, I have a newly discovered appreciation for these two lovely services. USPS mailed me free boxes to send overseas, picked up Dan's first care package from my doorstep, and delivered it to him halfway across the world, all in a surprisingly timely manner. I was so relieved to hear that he received it yesterday, because filling out those customs forms took more brainpower than any college final I ever took. I was pretty worried that I might leave the apartment one morning only to be arrested by the customs police for checking the wrong box somewhere on step 16C...
Also, thank goodness for Skype! Hubby and I were able to chat for a while on Wednesday evening and it was absolutely wonderful. I'm so glad we have all kinds of incredible technology to help us communicate, even though I still write him a letter almost every night!

This pair is twelve kinds of adorable in the movie Crazy Stupid Love. It's a very well-written film and Steve Carell is wonderfully funny, but these two really make the movie. Miss Emma Stone is gorgeous in that "I have no idea how good I look" way, and adorably nerdy in a way I can only hope to be when I am studying for the bar myself in a few years. I'm a little late to jump on the Ryan Gosling bandwagon (I cried at The Notebook as much as the next 17-year-old girl, but never thought he was that great), but I think he has really hit his stride as a serious actor. Blue Valentine was fantastic, and The Ides of March looks like it's going to be excellent as well. The best part, though, was how perfect these two seemed for each other, which apparently wasn't just acting: Gosling apparently told an interviewer "Show me someone that wouldn't give it all up for Emma Stone, and I'll show you a liar."

This lovely little pair is directly responsible for the fact that I didn't throw up my hands, put my phone on Do Not Disturb, and crawl under my desk today. I'm currently in love with Pandora's custom mix feature: today's playlist has included Mumford and Sons alongside Eric Church, Lady Antebellum with David Grey, Adele and the Spring Awakening soundtrack. No complaints here. 
In other news, I am physically incapable of stopping by Wendy's for a quick and cheap lunch without also purchasing a frosty. Does anyone else have this disorder? I'm not sure if I want to be cured.
Thankfully, these two little indulgences have gotten me through the workday, because my post-5:00 plans are truly exciting:

Yep, that's right -- grocery shopping and a post-grocery-shopping coma. There is so little food in the house that even the poor mice in the pantry are getting thin (this is a joke, thank goodness... if there were actually mice in the pantry I'd be packing my bags for somewhere far, far away instead of restocking their snacks). Last night's dinner was a bowl of cereal, and I like cereal so I'm not complaining... except that bowl included the last of the milk, so really, it's time. I'm kind of excited to get some real food so that I can stop wondering how bad cat food really could taste every time I open the refrigerator door and find nothing there. 
After all of that excitement, I'm pretty sure I'll be ready for a little nap... or a long nap, whichever I have time for before going to bed for the night. Hopefully the rest of the weekend will be slightly more exciting. If not, unfortunately you'll probably hear about it on Monday. Sorry about that.
Happy Friday, everyone!



August 17, 2011

Daily Thrills

It's rather incredible how you can go to bed on a Friday night and wake up and allofasudden it's Wednesday morning. Sort of fascinating how that happens.
Ok, ok... in all honesty, I only wish I'd been able to sleep for a full 5 days. For some reason, my place of employment just isn't ok with that. Something about meeting deadlines and being conscious enough to answer the phones. Humph.
Actually, the past week has been full, which is why it has (thankfully) gone quickly and I've lost track of time just a bit. Looking back, though, life has been mostly kind of... boring. I've been doing a lot, but nothing very thrilling. Here's a quick snapshot of what I've been up to:

Quite a bit of running (don't I look thrilled?). I've logged over 28 miles just in the last 5 days, not including some cross training and lots and lots of crunches. I'm feeling good about the race in a few weeks and seriously contemplating registering for three more between then and November, one of which is another half marathon. Can you spell addicting? Or crazy? I sure can...

Saturday I spent a nice afternoon with my friend N (whose hubby is a gazillion miles away with mine) and one of her friends. We went out for lunch, enjoyed awesome pedicures, and even splurged and finished our girls' date with the best frozen yogurt in town. My toes and my tummy were quite happy, and it was fun to spend some time with friends!

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I don't have any actual pictures of me napping, and even if I did I doubt they'd be that cute. The furball and I have, however, been spending some quality time napping lately:
... and I might not be lying if I told you that one night this week, I actually slept for 11 hours. I certainly wouldn't be lying if I told you that those were the most blissful 11 hours I've experienced lately.

I've been writing so many letters that I'm pretty sure my poor hubby is getting sick of reading the same things over and over. One can only say "I miss you," "The cat misses you too," "I love you," and "are you freaking home yet???" in so many ways....

I've been reading this, which is one of the best but also one of the saddest books I've read in quite a while. Definitely recommended, but not if you're looking for a light read. The next book on my list is Eric Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, which doesn't look like it's going to be any happier, so after that I will be actively seeking out some fluff to finish my summer on a high note.
So that's what I've been doing lately: all very exciting and blogworthy, certainly. Maybe one of these days I'll have something a little more fun and exciting to share? Although after a quiet night at home last night, eating leftovers in my finally-clean apartment and watching Teen Mom (don't judge) while writing a letter to Dan, I suppose that maybe boring is quite alright with me for now.
Hope you are all enjoying the excitement in your own lives right now -- or relishing the calm!


August 13, 2011


This afternoon, I wrote a post on some Friday Favorites, struggling a little but determined to find some happiness in what has been a long and trying week. I wrote about how stressed I've been, how exhausted, how worried about my very best friend, half a world away. I did a little complaining. I felt a little sorry for myself. I made a little wish that life might move a bit faster.
Tonight, I came home to add a few pictures and hit the publish button on this writing. But before I got around to that, I clicked into my reader to see if any of you out there had updates, because I love to read every last thing that you share with me. Except tonight, I found myself reading something that I did not love... something that broke my heart and made my stomach flop. I read that all across the world, hundreds of people made peanut butter pie today, and I read why. I had not come across Jennie's blog before tonight, but even as a newcomer I was immediately moved by her loss and inspired by the love she and Mikey shared. I have never wished so much that I could cook with peanut butter, because if my allergies allowed, I'd be in the kitchen right now whipping up a tribute. 
Jennie's message, however, is one that we should all hear -- something that I feel is infinitely more important to be shared tonight. It's simple: don't ever miss a chance to tell those around you how much you love them. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is forever. So bake them a pie, write them a card, give them a call... and hug them extra hard. I know that I sure would, if I could only get my arms around him tonight.


August 9, 2011


I was all set to write about how today has been a fabulously crap-tastic day. How it has been just one in a string of several truly terrible days. How for the past week, I've gone to bed each night repeating to myself "Tomorrow will be better. It just has to get better." And how, each day... it hasn't. From car issues to health issues to family issues (and have I mentioned that I really miss my hubby?), it's been a never-ending stream of worry and stress and overwhelming frustration that has left me exhausted and seriously disheartened. I feel like I'm expected as a military wife to either stay impressively positive and upbeat or to completely fall apart, and my pride leaves me no choice but to force myself into the first category. So my acting skills have been getting quite a workout this week, even though the poor cat has watched with concern as I've dragged home every night, collapsed, and burst into tears. 
As tough as the past few days have been, I hate being such a downer and was not exactly looking forward to writing about my bad mood. Thankfully, I don't have to. A few things happened this afternoon that, while small, were able to turn around my entire day. I've felt much better this afternoon, both emotionally and physically, and I feel like I owe a little bit of gratitude:

Thank you to Dan's cousin, who runs the mechanic shop at the car dealership near my work. I had to take hubby's truck in for an inspection, and of course they found several things that needed fixing: the air vent, the license plate light (am I the only one who didn't know this even existed?), the rear brakes... and the list goes on. Luckily, Dan's cousin gave me a great discount and was incredibly kind, telling me to let him know if I needed anything at all while Dan was gone. I was so touched by his thoughtfulness and relieved by the discount that I almost didn't feel the sting of having to spend more money on a vehicle.

Thank you to the girl working the self-checkout lines at Giant today. I ran in to pick up some packing tape for the hubby's first international care package (after fighting with the post office online forms and fees for at least three hours in the past two days), and also to grab a notebook of paper. When I got to the scanner, I realized that the notebook was conspicuously lacking in the barcode department. The young girl working asked if I remembered how much it was, and I was super honest and said "Two something.... maybe 2.79?" even though I was pretty sure it had been more like 2.20. She looked at me, smiled, and pushed a few buttons... "Well today," she told me, "it's $1.99."

Thank you to my legs, which seem to have finally gotten the message. I didn't run for almost a week when I was in Indiana, and getting back into it has been much harder than I expected. I've had a few decent runs since then, but tonight was the first time I felt as good as I had before the trip. With a race in 26 days, I'm really relieved to be back to feeling good and hope that I can keep it in gear and make that registration fee worth it.

And hopefully, thanks to silver linings like these in the thunderstorm that's been hanging around lately, tomorrow will be better.


August 5, 2011

Not My Favorite Friday

Dearest Friday --
Not such a fan.
Love, Meg

Yes, it's true: I am officially angry with most people's favorite day of the week. The long-awaited end of the work-week, the start of two glorious days off... but I'm not happy. Sure, I have plenty of reasons I could stretch the truth just a little and say it's been a decent week. I've had a few mediocre runs. I got brand-spankin'-new running shoes... and boy did they feel good this morning. I've had a couple good meals, watched an ok movie or two, and gotten a little bit of sleep. I'm heading out tonight with my wonderful mother (Hi, Mom!) for what should be an excellent concert. All pretty good reasons to be happy, I know. But unfortunately this morning brought one very large, very ugly reason to be unhappy that seems to outweigh all of the good right now... I missed my first phone call.
I've heard it over and over: as a military wife it is essential to keep your phone so close to you at all times that people begin to wonder if it's been surgically attached. You never know when they'll call and you never know how long it might be before the next phone call, so you'd darn well better not miss it. There is no way to call him back, or even to send him a message asking him to try again. If you've missed it, you've missed it, and you're not going to get those precious minutes of hearing his voice back. And me? Well... I missed it. By seconds. I heard my phone vibrating as I rounded the corner to my desk, and I grabbed for it and swiped down to answer as quickly as my little fingers possibly could, but I was too late. I watched as the call clicked away and I sank down in my chair. And for the first time, I may have shed a few very silent tears from within the four three and a half walls of my cubicle. (Please don't report me to my former self)
I've also heard that it is heartbreaking to miss a call, but I never fully grasped the weight of that sadness until this morning. I was helpless -- I wanted so badly to scream at my phone "I was HERE! I was ANSWERING!!!" But unfortunately smart phones are only so smart, and I doubted that my little Incredible was incredible enough to reverse time so I could have grabbed it just 5 seconds faster. I was even more crushed when I heard my sweet hubby's voice on the message he left... he sounded so sad and exhausted, and I felt horrible that I had missed my chance to encourage him, remind him that I loved him, and reassure him that this will all be over soon. (It will, won't it? Please tell me it will...)
So today, I am mad at Fridays, and at cell phones, and at the thousands of miles that separate me from my love. I know that he will call again eventually, and even though it may take days, I doubt I'll be okay again until the next time he does... and I answer before my phone even gets to the second note of its ring. I apologize for the downer of a post today, and as thanks for sticking with me this long, I leave you with a little random something that just might make you smile:


August 3, 2011

Nothing Like It

There's nothing like startling awake in the middle of the night to a phone call... only to hear my hubby's voice for the first time in what felt like years. (Ok, so it was only a little over 24 hours. A lot had happened in those 24 hours, though, and hearing from him was an incredible relief. Even though we only got to talk for a few minutes, I fell back to sleep with a huge smile on my face.)
There's nothing like being called into the boss' boss' office in the middle of the day with no explanation... only to get a great compliment on something I spent days writing and editing. Of course, like most workplace praise, it was coupled with a request for more work, but I suppose I'll take what I can get.
There's nothing like struggling through the workday, exhausted (see aforementioned late-night phone call) and swamped (see aforementioned extra work)... only to get a call that there is a "very pretty bouquet of flowers" waiting upstairs for me. 
There's nothing like pushing through the first few miles of a tough run and fighting a strong urge to collapse in a random patch of grass... only to (finally) get into a good place and fly through the rest of the miles with no problem.
There's nothing like coming home after a long day to a dark and empty apartment... only to hear a kitty cat come bounding down the hall to greet me. Thank goodness for furry friends!
There's nothing like learning to appreciate the good in life!


August 1, 2011

Month 2 in Review and Weekend in Indiana!

Welcome, August -- let's get started so that you can hurry up and get out of here, ok? Now that my weekend in Indiana has come and gone, we are officially in countdown mode around here. While I sort of wanted the past two months to hang around a little because I knew I'd get to see my hubs at the end of them, now I am 100% ready for the next few to fly by as fast as possible. Busy weeks? Bring them on. Weekends that speed right on through? You won't find me complaining. Of course this week has dripped by slower than molasses, but I'm really hoping that time is going to start to speed up again soon.
Today marks the end of our first two months, which is exciting and yet a little sad all at the same time. For the past two months, Dan has been training and working in a safe environment with pretty decent communication. Soon that will all change, and this month especially our contact may get a little bit more difficult. I'm really dreading this, but I keep reminding myself that it's out of my control. I know Dan will do his best to stay in touch as he is able, but at this point he has a job to do that is much more important than a phone call home, in the long run.
July really did go by quickly, since I did a little traveling and work kept me extremely busy. I spent a few days at the beginning of the month visiting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and celebrated the 4th of July with my dad, stepmom, and grandmother. I spent part of another weekend visiting a good friend in my college town. I went on several long runs and eventually worked my way up to half-marathon distance, which is lucky, because I registered for one! I took a rather rough and embarrassing tumble during one run, and my poor knees have been healing ever since. 
There are also a few things I didn't do as much of this month that I'd like to get back to: I started watching a few movies but never finished them, started an excellent book but haven't found much time to read, and I've been slacking a little bit around here, as well. I cooked a few meals but not as many as I'd like, and surprisingly I only baked once in the past month. Hopefully August will bring lots of time to catch up on these kinds of things that I love doing but often don't make enough time for.
The best part of the last month, however, was certainly last weekend, which I got to spend with my sweet hubby. We had an absolutely fantastic time and were able to laugh a lot, despite the less-than-laughable circumstances surrounding our time together. We spent a lot of time with three lovely people: T, who is heading out with Dan, his wife N, who lives about an hour away and has become a wonderful friend, and their adorable 3-month old, who might just be the cutest little girl you could ever meet (besides my niece, of course!). 
N and I flew in together on Thursday night and we all shared a very happy reunion in the hotel lobby around midnight. On Friday, the five of us spent time exploring the suburbs of Indianapolis, eating at a cute old ice cream parlor, and doing a little shopping. That night, Dan and I headed out for dinner and a movie:
We were able to catch it in an IMAX theater, which I think was worth the atrocious ticket price (but barely). Dan loved it, and I was so glad we were able to see it together. Unfortunately I managed to forget my camera charger at home, meaning that I have no pictures of anything until that evening, when we stopped at a Walmart on the way back to the hotel.
Saturday the five of us headed off to the zoo early in an attempt to beat the heat, and we were relatively successful. It was incredibly hot, but we were able to do the outside activities early enough that by noon, we were sitting at a dolphin show and cruising through the blissfully air-conditioned aquarium.
Dan even made a new friend, who has headed off to travel with him for the next few months:
That afternoon, we I did some serious damage at an outlet mall and then headed back to the hotel for a well-deserved nap. In the evening, Dan and I drove into downtown Indianapolis:

for dinner here:
Oh. my. yum. This was quite possibly the best meal I've had all year. I got a fantastic cosmo, an appetizer of homemade potato chips with cheesy-scallion dip (calories don't count on vacation, remember?) and an incredible sandwich with chicken, cheese, and spinach-artichoke dip on wonderful toasty bread. Even the lemon-garlic aioli I dipped my fries in was heavenly. Dan had wings that he said were spicy but good and fish and chips which he also seemed to enjoy. Apparently there are several locations of this restaurant, and I wish there was one closer to home!
On Sunday we ran a few errands, picked up some last-essentials for Dan to take with him, and managed to stop by two of his favorite places: Starbucks and Panera. Yum! That night we ate dinner at a sketchy mexican restaurant (my fault, really, but we still had fun). I insisted that we take a few pictures on our way out -- despite some difficulty getting us both in the shot, we managed to get a couple good ones:
Dan's attempt...
... a little unsure about where to look...
... finally figured out where to focus...
... and finally a good one while we laugh at ourselves.
I am so lucky to have a husband who laughs with me! Despite the fact that I wanted to cry so many times during that last night together, he always kept me smiling. 
I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a few tears the next day, though, as we prepared to say goodbye. The five of us met for lunch at Chili's in an effort to celebrate Dan's birthday before N and I had to fly home. By 3:30, though, we had to take the guys back to post and head for the airport, sniffling and very sad. Dan and I have said goodbye many, many times in our 6+ years, for varying lengths of time and under lots of different circumstances, but there is no doubt that this was by far the hardest. We don't know for sure how long we will be apart, but we are pretty positive that it will be longer than ever this time. We don't know how much we will be able to talk, whether we will get to skype, or whether much of our contact will be limited to letters and the occasional email. But as hard as it is to face the next 10 months of such unknown, I do know one thing for sure: there is no one I'd rather get through it with. No matter how hard it is to be apart, weekends like the one we had together remind me that it will all be worth it in the end, when he is home and we are able to share our lives again.
So here's to making it through the last two months, and hoping that the next 10 will fly by. I can't ever remember a year when I was looking forward to fall and the holidays being over, but I'm more than ready for next spring already, please!



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