Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Half-Marathon Training with B: Week 2

I hope that you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Mine was, well, emotional. But that is not what this post is about. Let's talk about running! Weeeeeeeeeee!

My work schedule has yet to jive with my training schedule, so I have not been strict about keeping to the days on the schedule (which is fine). Here is my recap of training, Week 1.

Week 2, Day 5: Tuesday, 3 miles
I am going to have to start writing this stuff down immediately after the fact, but that would require way too much responsibility! I am pretty sure that this was my first morning run. Temperatures were predicted to reach 90 degrees by 3pm, so I decided to face my morning fears and conquer my 3 miles before work. I got up, drank a half cup of coffee and ate half a banana. I waited 30 minutes and then set off. It was cool and sunny. There weren't many people on the running path. Finally, no 2x2 walkers to dodge and elbow!! I don't remember this run being too terribly difficult. I think I had a few side stitches that eventually worked their way out. It was pretty uneventful.

Week 2, Day 6: Thursday, 3 miles
Here is where I deviated from my schedule because I was too lazy to wake up early enough on Wednesday to run before work and the high temps and rain set in that afternoon. So, Thursday morning, I crawled out of bed and basically had a repeat of Tuesday. I was supposed to be running "pace" but I am just not at that level yet. (Pace is the speed that you would like to run your race. Say, you want to run 8 minute miles during the race, then you run at that pace on this day.) I average just under 10 minute miles, and I am totally okay with that. Underachieve, much?

Week 2, Day 7: Friday, 3 miles
I wasn't sure that I would be able to get this one in due to Thursday evening's work event, a wine tasting. I thought that I would be able to keep things professional and sit there while everyone else indulged in sips (yeah right) of $24-$30 bottles of wine, but I'm just not that disciplined. So, before I knew it, I had joined the rowdy table and was throwing them back with the best of them. Cue splitting headache on Friday morning. Luckily, I had worked a 12 hour day on Thursday, so I was allowed to come in at 10. Again, this run was pretty much a repeat of the previous two, although I struggled a bit more than usual due to alcohol.

Week 2, Day 8: Saturday, strength training
If you have looked at the training schedule (above) then you might have noticed "cross," as in cross-training, on every Sunday. This is the day when you are supposed to do some sort of exercise except running. You can go for a walk, a swim, ride a bike, lift weights, etc. It is not recommended that you play a sport like basketball or soccer in the case of injury. Well, I decided that since I haven't really seen the weight loss results that I was expecting, I would try strength training once a week to tone that fat into muscle. This is an excellent idea that I executed very poorly. I accompanied W to the gym and proceeded to allow him to dictate my strength training regimen. He had me doing shoulders, arms and abs and always wanted me doing about 5 to 10 lbs. more weight than I could handle.

It's obvious, W. My elbows are inverting. IT IS TOO HEAVY.

One of W's biggest pet peeves is that I don't do any strength training. His insides curdle at the mention of "getting big." And yet, he would gladly up my weight in 5 lb. increments each week. YOU MAKE NO SENSE, W.

Let's also keep in mind that it had been well over a year since I had done any strength training at all.

I did some machine where you sit down and pull the bar into your chest. Can't you tell I'm obviously a gym rat? This worked the muscles under my arms and the tops of my shoulders. These are technical descriptions of muscles, duh. I did this for 10 reps, 3 times. Then, W wanted me to grab 15 lb. dumbbells (!!!!). I grabbed the 10s and laid on a bench and pressed them 10-12 reps, 3 times. Then, I grabbed 5 lb. dumbbells and lifted them straight out, then out to the side, and then did bicep curls, 10-12 reps each, 3 times. THEN, W had me do triceps, 10-12 reps, 3 times (where you hold your arm at a 90 degree angle behind your head and bring the weight up). THEN, W had me sit on a bench, bend over and lift the 5 lb. weights from the ground, back and out. PHEW. My arms were spaghetti at this point, but W said I was finally done with arms and shoulders.

On to abs. This is where I should have just stopped or walked away--WALK AWAY FROM THE INCLINE BENCH, B! DON'T YOU EVEN THINK OF TOUCHING THAT MEDICINE BALL. But, I didn't listen. Abs were what I was really looking forward to as I carry my weight around my middle. So, I thundered ahead full speed and before I knew it was doing crunches on the steep incline with a 10 lb. medicine ball. DO NOT DO THIS. I finally had to stop after barely 40 crunches, because my body just couldn't take anymore. I know that isn't a lot, but it was the one time that my body made it very clear that I needed to stop. Thank God I listened.

Week 2, Day 9: Sunday, 5 miles
I woke up Sunday morning and felt like I had the flu, had been hit by a bus, was dying, etc. My entire torso was just one giant ball of stiff, aching and sore muscles. I could barely pull myself into a seated position. I sneezed and thought that my abs might explode. I immediately regretted Saturday and my stupidity, knowing that 5 torturous miles awaited me. Thankfully, we had a cold front come through on Friday, so Sunday promised to be 65 to 70 degrees all day. I waited it out until noon and decided it was now or never. I went for it. 5 miles. It was pretty rough for the majority of it. My sore muscles actually had very little to do with it. I had side stitches that I just could not get rid of and I had decided to wear a hat. My eyes are super sensitive so I usually wear my huge sunglasses that just aren't conducive for running. I spend most of the run pushing them back up my nose. I decided that a hat would remedy the situation. Except that the hat just made me hot. While it was probably only 70 degrees, the hat made me swelter, but I was too afraid of my hat head to take it off. Either way, I ran the whole way, slowly, but still running. I only stopped once at about 4.25 to give a man the wrong directions to a gas station...... OOPS. I am so sorry, man. That stop made the remaining .75 miles nearly unbearable, but I finished.

And then, the misery set in. At first, it was just the general after-run misery of pounding head, racing and erratic heart rate, gasping and profuse sweating. I don't even want to know what W thought of me as I stood outside the door, pounding on it for him to let me in. He asked how it went and I just grunted. It was all I could muster.

"That bad, huh?" he asked.  

SHUT UP, W. IT WAS YOUR STUPID MEATHEAD WORKOUT THAT DID IT, I screamed back at him, of course, in my head. I did not have that kind of energy right then.

So, I did what always works. I stripped down to my skivvies, turned the ceiling fan on high, assumed the spread eagle position directly under the fan and poured water into my face in the hopes that some of it might collect in my mouth. That's when it happened. Previously sore and stiff muscles were suddenly throbbing with sharp, shooting pains. My triceps felt like they were being stabbed with steak knives. My abs, oh, my poor abs. I have spent the last two days with watery eyes and a dripping nose as I absolutely refuse to sneeze or blow my nose or cough for that matter. It hurts too bad to do any of those things. I have also been dodging W every time he gets that "I-just-want-to-squeeze-the-life-out-of-you-as-I-hug-you" look on his face. I swear every rib has its own very complex set of feelings and they are all PISSED at me. And, boy, have they let me know it!

So, kids, don't do this to yourself. I still think that strength training is a great idea and I will try to work it into my training whenever possible. BUT, don't do it the day before your long run. Just, don't. Don't do it! And, definitely don't overdo it. Just, don't listen to W. That is the moral of this story.

Total mileage for the week = 14

How's your running going?


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An excuse for absence

During the course of this blog's life I've been hiding a pretty big secret.  Nothing dark and gossip worthy, but a secret none the less.  So, without further ado...

I'm not pregnant.

I'm a little college student again.  That's right... an innocent little college student working 40 hours a week and crying my way through mid terms, finals, and sleepless nights.  I love it.

(that wasn't sarcasm)

I love being busy, I love debates, I love writing papers on religion and Abu Graib, I love using my long drives to school as an excuse to listen to audio books, I LOVE IT ALL.

The Background Story

In high school I was an honor roll kid.  I didn't even have to try to make good grades... they just flowed down upon me like holy water.  When I went to LSU with a scholarship and a lame plan to study Horticulture... my grades and interest went south.  DEEP BAYOU STYLE SOUTH.  I had no idea why the hell I chose a degree in which I was allergic to everything I touched (ie:  grass, plants, and the general theme of springtime).  I was confused, frustrated, and broke.  So I did what everyone does when they reach that point...

I started cosmetology school.

The Aveda Institute was a blast, and I discovered I had a knack for hair styling and cutting.  I was happy.  I landed a pretty killer job interning under one of the best hair stylists in Baton Rouge, and I felt as though this was it... this is what I want to be when I grow up. 

After 3 years in the salon, Jason's med school plans started panning out.  We moved to West Virginia for WVSOM, back to Shreveport for LSU, and back again to WV.  Life in the salon world doesn't mesh well with cross country moving.  In fact, it ruins you.  The constant moving, changing salons, building clientele, and boards became a big sink hole to my hair stylist dreams.

That, and the picture of myself in Golden Girl Glamour doing hair at the age of 70 in a booth rent salon with no retirement or health insurance.

That scary mental image, the constant thought of what if I went back to school, and all of the free time that being a student doctor's wife brings you... led me to go for the gold.  Not having a degree was one of those constant, horrible tugs on my heart.  I watched my brainy sister go through law school with what seemed like ease, my husband take brutal exams and interviews for medical school nearly effortlessly, and I thought... I could never do that.  I would never be cut out for that. 

That thought was strange to me, because I have always loved learning.  I loved pushing myself, I loved writing, I loved professor's critiquing me...  So why am I not school material?  What am I missing?  Am I not smart enough for this?

It wasn't until I witnessed a few high school slackers graduate college when I realized that

a. I wasn't stupid

b. I was afraid of failing.

At 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I picked something that didn't fit me, I did terrible, and I felt like a failure.  I lost a scholarship, lost my self esteem, and lost any hope for a dream.  I didn't want to go through that again.  I wanted to find something I could achieve quickly.  I wanted instant satisfaction, and I wanted to find a quick career and make quick money so I could get out of a broken household.  Through that first dreadful year at LSU I wish I could have known that you don't need the answers to everything.  You don't need to have a dream in the beginning, you just need a plan.  I wish I knew student loans were okay, and that being in debt was a necessity when attempting to put yourself through college.  Now, after seeing J follow his dreams I've been inspired to follow mine.

I don't care if I go back to the hair world after I get a degree... I want to succeed in something that seemed unachievable earlier in life.  

I find myself getting frustrated that I did not go back earlier, but I like to think that's a good regret to have.  Challenges are fun and hard to overcome, but achieving something you never thought you could is pretty rewarding.  I'm not finished with school (I still have at least 2 years left), but the mere fact that I enrolled and finished my first year back brings a new sense of achievement that I've never experienced before.  Going back was scary and even somewhat embarrassing.  I always feel like an old lady in class.  An old lady who worries about homework, never skips class, and who has more in common with the nerdy professor than most students.  ha!

So, dear friends, that is the long detailed version as to why I've been MIA lately.  Sorry I did not tell you sooner.  I wanted to succeed first.  :)  I wanted to know that I was really going to stick with it before I shared the ins and outs.  I think you'd be proud to know that thus far, I have had an all A semester.  HOLLA!

What fears are you overcoming?


Monday, May 20, 2013

Half Marathon Training with B: Week 1

I did it.

I completed my first week of half marathon training.

And I didn't quit. I didn't make excuses. I did each and every run.

It wasn't always easy or fun, but I reached a huge running milestone: THE RUNNER'S HIGH.

Week 1, Day 1: Tuesday, 3 miles
I had built this day up so much in my head that I woke up that morning with butterflies and doubt. I knew that this was it. Now or never. It was a lot of pressure. It was 5 o'clock and I was sitting on the couch tying my shoes. W was sitting on the couch across from me completely absorbed in SDN (Student Doctor Network forums, aka: SATAN).

"I'm hungry. I knew I should have eaten a snack."

"Maybe we can eat an early dinner and then I can run? That way I will have plenty of energy."

"What time does it get dark? Do you think I will be safe running alone around 7:30?"

"UGH. I should have eaten something."

"Its just three miles though. I should be find."


W finally looks up from the computer screen. "You are really having a tough time with this, aren't you?"

"YES. YES, I AM. UGH. I'm going."

And I went and it was pretty much a constant struggle from the get-go. I was tired. I kept getting cramps. My big toe was being rubbed raw. I kept slowing down until I was hardly moving. I thought about quitting.

I finally finished. I wanted to cry. It was harder than I thought it would be--probably the hardest three miles I have ever run.


Mental. It was all mental. But I was even more nervous about this whole training process. I dreaded Day 2.

Week 1, Day 2: Wednesday, 3 miles
W was leaving for Lewisburg that night. I had to give him a ride to his friend's house at 6:30. We ate a quick dinner. I got him to where he needed to go. I was pumped and ready for my run. I went at 7:20. And it was just as hard as Day 1. Immediately, my legs were tired. My toe was hurting. I had stitches in both sides. I ran so, so, so slow. I hated every second of it.

I finally finished. I stripped down to my skivvies and laid on the floor under the fan. I began dreading Day 3. When would it get easier?!

Week 1, Day 3: Thursday, 3 miles
With W gone, my schedule is a bit more relaxed, so I thought that maybe Thursday would be my day. I was almost right. But then Mother Nature made herself known. It poured and thundered from 4pm until 7pm. At 7:10, I took off on my run. It was cool. There was a light misting in the air. I had the running path all to myself. I felt awesome. I wasn't struggling to breath. Nothing hurt. My toe wasn't even rubbing! I got to the end of my three miles and smiled. I felt great. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

Week 1, Day 4: Sunday, 4 miles
This day didn't go exactly how I planned. W had overnight call, which meant that he got home at 7:30am after all night working at the hospital. There wasn't a bit of food in the house. Wifely duties called. I forfeited my morning for a grocery run. Then, it got hot. I mean like muggy, swampy hot. I don't really do well running in the heat. I decided to wait it out. I planned to go at 5 but then, once again, Mother Nature surprised us all with a torrential downpour and thunder in the middle of blaring sunshine and blue skies. It was bizarre. But, it cooled things off. W and I ate a delicious dinner. I was out for my run by 7:30.

Torrential downpour in the sunshine.

I felt good, but then I quickly developed two stitches, one in either side, and thought I might lose my dinner. I didn't stop, just slowed down and soldiered on. The air was cool and wet. The sun was starting to set over the river. It was beautiful. Except for the stitches, I felt great. I got to mile 2 and started to feel better. The stitches had worked themselves out. Mile 3 and I felt rough. Suddenly, I just wanted to stop. But, I kept going and spurred on by some 2x2 walkers who refused to MOVE OVER, I got to mile 3.5 and reached my first ever runner's high. All of a sudden, I felt light and easy. I sped up and ran the remaining half mile faster than I had run before. It felt great! FINALLY!

How has it taken 5 months to achieve my first runner's high?!

So, to sum it up, Week 1 had its downs, but ended with enough ups to have me feeling positive. I am glad that I started this journey and feel confident moving into Week 2.

Total mileage this week: 15.6

Sunday - 2.6 (pre-training run to get my butt in gear)
Tuesday - 3
Wednesday - 3
Thursday - 3
Sunday - 4

Sure, there's a 16 year old girl clocking in over 100 miles a week (you go girl!), but this journey isn't about her. I will take my 15.6!

How are you doing with your running? Tell us about it!


Friday, May 17, 2013

B's Awkward Situations

I've had a lot of time in the past two weeks for some very humbling introspection. Its not like I look for opportunities to quietly examine the inner workings of my mind. Its just that I haven't been sleeping well at all for the past two weeks, which leaves lots of time for thinking. I thought at first that it was due to W's new rotation schedule.

General surgery has resulted in a new, all-time low: a 4:12am alarm.

As I typed that, a surge of very hostile, primal and sleep-deprivation-induced anger just sent lightening bolts of venom shooting straight out of my eyeballs in the general direction of W's medical school. Good riddance.

But, this weekend, there was no 4:12am alarm and I was still up a good hour before W after another restless night. It was 7am. On my BIRTHDAY. And I was wide awake and sticking my finger in a snoozing W's ear. That never happens.

And then, take this week. W has been in Lewisburg since Wednesday, and I'm still not sleeping. What gives?

I really don't do well without sleep. I'm like a two year old who desperately needs a nap. It is ugly.

So, sleepless nights of tossing and turning have turned into unending lapses into the depths of my mind and memories. And I have come to the conclusion that I am an extremely awkward person that extremely awkward or unusual things happen to often in public.

Skinny Groundhog

Let's start with the grocery store.

In the last almost year of living in Charleston and shopping at the most rundown Kroger you've ever seen, I have officially been told four different times that I am a healthy eater. It usually goes something like this:

"Dang, look at all those vegetables. You eat healthy?"

This is usually said with a slight inflection at the end. I can't decide if its a question or just incredulity. I usually struggle to respond to these statements without being really awkward or pretentious or snobby or patronizing. I usually just shrug, "yeeeaaaahhh." And smile BIG.

"How do you cook all these veggies? I just can't eat some of these. I mean, how are you supposed to make cauliflower taste good?"

She also asked me how to cook asparagus and spaghetti squash. Then, she wanted to know what in the world I wanted with a whole baby chicken.

"You like all of this stuff or are you just on a diet?"

"Giiiirl, how you eat this stuff? I'm bout to order me some Chinese."

And then there was the sweet cashier who carded me and was absolutely enamored with my ID picture. He held it for quite a while, about five inches from his face before announcing, "This is a GREAT picture, Brianne!" Melt my heart. I blushed from ear to ear and thanked him. Then, he brought out his wallet and asked if I would like to see his new ID. Of course! I told him how handsome it was. That just about made my year.

Does this stuff happen to other people??

Finally, I get asked to reach items for older folks, specifically women, all the time. Its not really awkward, but I am usually wearing a short dress or skirt and my arms are usually full of groceries as I refuse to use the big buggies. There is usually some skin exposure and juggling. And, I am almost always reaching the off-brand cottage cheese for them, which explains it all. It is always on the top shelf and never fully stocked... Or, its pineapple juice. Weird.

On buggies. If there is one with a bum, squeaky, frozen, clacking, skipping, stuttering wheel or wheels, I will get it and I will stubbornly refuse to return it for a more manageable or quiet one. You can hear me coming  5 aisles away.

People also always ask me what aisle things are on. I'm pushing a buggy, and I'm usually in workout clothes, and I am usually on a mission running people over left and right. Does it honestly look like I work here?!

If you can't tell, I am a bit impatient. I like to use the speedy checkout. It never fails, when I buy carrots (the u-pick kind right out of the bin), I ALWAYS ring them up as organic carrot juice, which costs $20, by the way. ALWAYS. So, I have to ask the hassled attendant to come and void them for me. They always find it amusing that two carrots rang up for $20.

Final awkward grocery store moments: Chex Cinnamon Cereal, aka, W's most favorite cereal on the planet. I have now been asked by 3 different people on 3 separate occasions:

"Is that cereal good?"

Well, I am buying three boxes of it, so yes, its delicious.

"My kid is always begging for that stuff. Should I get it for 'em?"

Uuuummmm, I feel very uncomfortable answering that question.

"What's that stuff taste like anyways?"


Fat Groundhog

Now, let's talk about TJMAXX.

Various women of all shapes and sizes often approach me in TJMAXX and ask my opinion about various items. It usually goes down like this:

I'm casually browsing the tops section, when a woman joins me on the same rack, just a few feet away. She starts working her way towards me until we are within 6 inches of one another. Suddenly:

"What do you think of this? Are the stripes too much?"

This always scares the crap out of me. I always think of shopping as a strictly anti-social activity. I am usually off in fashion la-la land anyways. And the, BAM, I have a new shopping buddy, clutching a horrific striped shirt to her chest and staring earnestly into my eyes.

"Yeah, mmm," I croak out after hours of solitary shopping time and zero talking. "Stripes are great." I turn to walk towards the pants.

"Hmm. Are you sure? I don't know if red is my color."

Seriously, lady, do you think a complete stranger is going to tell you that red isn't your color OR that that shirt is a COMPLETE disaster?

"Oh, red looks great. I like it. Have a nice day."

I walk away and start sifting through the pants.

"Well, stripes it is. Guess I need a new pair of shorts to go with them! You think white?"


It happens so frequently that I have started only going to TJMAXX looking my grungiest, hoping no one will want my opinion on anything.

One of the more bizarre TJMAXX encounters was with a woman, who, again, was looking at shirts right along side me. She must have been watching my selection process, because she, without a "hey!" or "look at this!", shoved a bright pink blouse in between me and the rack.

"Oh, did you need some help?" I asked.

"Oh, no," she said. "I just thought you might like this one."


And, finally, I will end with the most awkward of the awkward encounters and it is when older, strange (ie: unknown to me) men ask me (quite frequently):

1. "Are you pregnant?"

Um, hi, strange man. No, I'm not. Do not talk to me. BUT WAIT. Why? Do I look pregnant? NO, don't answer that. LEAVE ME ALONE.

2. "Do you have any kids?"

Which, okay, this one isn't that bad. Its a bit intrusive. Maybe inappropriate? I mean, "Hi. I will be taking you on a tour of the museum today," isn't really an invitation to get all personal, but sure, let's go there.

"No, no kids."

It is the response to this admission that I am indeed not a mother that makes me want to immediately start talking about prostates and the little blue pill.

3. "Why not? Better get moving on that one."

Seriously, sir??? Really?? You do not even know my name, sir, and yet are so concerned with my uterus and reproductive timeline. BACK OFF.

I have vowed that from now on, when asked any of the above questions, I will just respond with:

I'm not really into procreation and burdening the world with one more human life to support.

or just:

Ack, offspring. More like ALIENS, amiright?

Which, of course, I want children, but I don't want to talk about that with YOU, sir. I bet either response would shut 'em right up and maybe have them think twice before abusing another young woman with their obvious fatherhood guilt and regrets.

Do awkward things happen to you, too?


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

B's 26 Resolutions

I'm not really one to make resolutions, but I feel like its time to get my lazy, anti-social ass off the couch and the Internet and start doing some stuff. This blog has been a great motivator, but I feel myself getting too comfortable. So, here goes:

B's 26 Resolutions for her 26th Year of Life

1. Have a romantic getaway with W

2. Revisit a city from my childhood 
I hope to accomplish this with Hannah and Nashville later this year!

3. Pick my own fruit

4. Make a garden
Working on it on the porch-ony!

5. Swim in a river

6. Swim in the ocean
I booked my plane tickets for SC last week! Finally spending my 4th on the SC coast again.

7. Find a forever job
With residency beginning next summer, I should have ample opportunity and a new locale to help with this one.

8. Listen to live music outside as much as possible

9. Bake something
I am a terrible and miserable baker.

10. Find my perfect bar cart

11. Get a real haircut
I am currently giving Cousin It a run for "It's" money, so at the end of the summer, Cap is going to chop it all off! Maybe something like this:

12. Go to a movie
I hate going to the movies. This one will be tough. 
13. Take a class
14. Have a dinner party
15. Go kayaking or canoeing
The other day, I had the strongest desire to go kayaking. No clue.

Or two!

17. Volunteer more (and outside of Junior League)

18. Make a new friend

19. Grill out filet mignon

20. Take a couples' trip
Maybe with the newly engaged Margaret and Danny? Philadelphia! December!

21. Learn a new skill

22. Plan a European vacation to take during W's intern year

23. Finally, after 26 years, find the perfect black dress

24. Laugh each and every day

25. Rescue something or someone

26. Live fearlessly and without regret and, sometimes, a little selfishly


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Running Won't Make You Beautiful

When I started running back in January, I was pretty vocal about it. I tried to bring it up in casual conversation. I know. Its not that big of a deal. So what? You go for runs, B. So does every other human being on the planet. Was I making great achievements? Maybe not in the grand scheme of how the world turns. But, in my world, yes.

Why tell people? Especially when, in the beginning, I was barely managing to eek out 1 or 2 miles at a time without having to stop.

I told people because I wanted them to ask me about it. Because that right there is one of the best motivators to get up and run. I didn't need my IPhone bleeping angry obscenities and sounds and text boxes at me three times a week to make me get up and run. I needed the threat of flesh-and-blood people asking, "How's the running?" "You still running?" "WHY are you running?"

It worked.

But one reaction that I was not expecting keeps floating around in my head, especially on those fated few mornings a week when I step on the scale.

"You started running. Hmm. Why? Are you trying to lose weight?"

I guess that is a pretty common reaction? But it surprised me.

My insecure self immediately jumped to the conclusion that I very obviously needed to lose weight. Or, why ask that question?

Because the truth was that, yes, I did hope to lose some weight. But was that why I started running?

I was thinking about that this morning as I slipped on a pair of pants that were much snugger in the waist this time last year than now, and I can say that running is no longer about trying to achieve what the world considers "beautiful". Which is size 2, no cellulite, perfect eyebrows, sculpted arms, etc.

Let's face it:

Running may make you skinny but it could never make you beautiful.

Why we equate skinny with beauty I will never fully understand.

Yes, it has most everything to do with the media. And, if I hear "sex sells" one more time, I will punch someone in the mouth.

But why have we accepted this as our norm?

As my brain tends to work, it didn't take long for it to jump from running to weight loss to skinny to beauty. Before I knew it, I was tearing up all over my freshly applied face lotion this morning.

Why is it so hard for women to admit their beauty? Why do we limit beauty to our physical appearance? I call bullshit.

This post is obviously no longer about running.

I do think I'm beautiful. And it has nothing to do with my hair or the shape of my face or the size of my pants.

My beauty really has very little to do with me at all, because it has everything to do with those magnificent and dazzling souls that I am lucky enough to get to know and love in this lifetime. You, my dear family and friends, make me and my life beautiful. This brief encounter we call life is the stuff of beauty, and we all take it for granted at some point and write it off as another day when there just weren't enough hours to accomplish--what?? life?

So, I was crying into my face lotion when a memory at once almost forgotten but so poignant and so fresh burned itself into my mind and left me reeling. Because it was the first time in my life that I questioned beauty. It was my first inkling that there might be more to being beautiful than symmetrical features.

This memory was of an encounter I had with a deaf man. I was a candystriper and a whiz at the front desk, answering phones, looking up patient room numbers and directing visitors to them, delivering mail, fixing wheelchairs, wheeling patients to their rooms. I was probably 12 or 13. Skinny. Big head. Braces. White nurse's sneakers and all. Insecure. Self-conscious. Painfully aware of my physical appearance and how, in my eyes, it just wasn't up to snuff. I thought I was fat. I hated my "five"-head. My lips were too thin. My knees were too dark. You know the age. You remember the body image issues. I often thought of myself as the ugly duckling. And it wasn't a worry. It was a fact to me.

Anyways, this man approached the front desk and I recognized him as being different. He was tall and broad. He wasn't dressed very well. His clothes looked crumpled and stained. His face was large and his jaw slack. He frightened me a bit, but, ever the professional, I asked if I could help him. He started to sign and speak words that I couldn't understand.

I was immediately flustered. I looked to Mrs. Bobby, the elderly volunteer who always worked the desk with me. She was directing people to a doctor's office and had begun to walk away from the desk before I could stop her. I turned back to the man, who stood there patiently, his large dark eyes fixed on my face, forcing eye contact. I apologized profusely, wagging my hands in front of me in what I thought might be a contrite gesture. He shook his head at me and mumbled something else that I didn't understand. I tried to look past his bulky form and scraggly hair. I forced a tight smile. I apologized again--I'm sure in a too loud voice that was of course no use to him. I fumbled on the desk, searching for a scrap piece of paper and a pen, which I then placed on the counter in front of him. He and I both looked expectantly at the paper. I in the hope that he would quickly write down who or what he was looking for so that I could send him on his way. And he? Well, he just pushed the paper and pen back across the counter towards me, shaking his head.

Again, I apologized and again, he just stood there, looking at me. Was he smiling? I found his stare and parted, limp lips creepy. I could feel the blood rushing up the back of my neck and searing my cheeks. I was flustered. I was embarrassed for him--maybe of him? I decided on a different tactic. I pointed to a lady being wheeled into the elevator, shrugged my shoulders and asked, "patient?" He nodded his head yes and said a name that I--desperate for any prompt--thought sounded like it began with an "e". I took a deep breath and turned back to the computer screen. I typed in "e" and hit enter. A sizable list appeared on my screen. I decided to just read them off one by one, because I was pretty sure that he could read lips. As I read off the names, he just shook his head, repeating the name that I couldn't understand.

I was frustrated. I became annoyed. I thought that maybe he wasn't really there to see anyone at all. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with him. I continued to read off the names, but I didn't look back up from the screen. Suddenly, he smacked his hands on the counter, slapping flesh on granite in three loud cracks. It startled me. I looked up expecting him to--what?--strike me? Throw something at me? Grab me? I thought he might be violent.

But when I looked up, he was standing there just as before, his eyes fixed on my face with those parted lips. Maybe, it was a smile. We looked at one another for a few seconds. He pointed at me and grunted loudly what sounded like, "yuh." I placed my hand on my chest and asked, "me?" He nodded. And then he actually did smile. He repeated, "yuh," pointing fiercely at me again. Then, he waved his hand over his face, starting at his forehead, spreading out his fingers and moving his hand down his face. He said something else. "Oodifuh".

He smiled at me, nodding, encouraging me to understand him.

"Yuh oodifuh," he said again, waving his hand over his face with the same feathery gesture that surprised me coming from this bulky, unkempt man.

"Beautiful?" I asked. I felt the blood drain from my face.

He nodded his head vigorously. "Oodifuh." And he waved his hand over his face yet again.

"Thank you," I said and froze. What else could I do? I was immediately ashamed. I tried to return his smile and enthusiasm, but the guilt over my poor treatment of this obviously kind and well-meaning man left me blank and empty. Had he not sensed my annoyance? Did he honestly believe that I had been kind to him?

"Thank you," I repeated, barely able to meet his eyes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to apologize--make it up to him. I thought quickly of what I might be able to do next to help him--to make up for losing my patience and for being embarrassed.

But before I could do anything, he reached out his hand. I offered mine and he grasped and shook it vigorously.

Then, he turned around and left. And I never saw him again.

Not long after that, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands before lunch, and standing in front of the mirror, actually looked at myself. I scrutinized my big forehead and ran my hands through my frizzy/curly/never fully straight hair and, suddenly and without warning, came the cheek-aching smile--no--grin, braces and all that I couldn't bear to muster at the scene of my bad behavior. I remembered the gesture the man had made, waving his hand over his face. I mimicked it, not quite capturing the fluidity of his wrist and the graceful sweep of his fingers.

He was definitely not beautiful--at least not in the physical sense. But that day, he humbled me with his unaffected beauty and grace.


Monday, May 13, 2013

B's 26

My 26th birthday was yesterday and it was fine. I suffer from this thing called Peter Pan Syndrome, so "another year older, another year wiser" isn't really something I ascribe to. I mean, Tuck Everlasting was my favorite book as a tween. I have issues.

But I like birthdays because they are the one day a year that you can say things like, "I'm not washing those dishes or those dishes or whatever that is. And, I'm not cleaning a thing. Its my birthday." Technically, it was the night before my birthday, but that totally counts in my book. Or, plop a foot in W's lap and demand a birthday foot rub (or three). But mostly, birthdays are excuses to treat yourself a little, soak up some deserved spoiling and make a few bucks.

Well, its true!

So, 26 was fine. No biggie.


Do I feel any older? No, I don't. I remember being 18 and thinking 26 was something so sophisticated and professional and, well, adult. And I look at my life and I don't see any of those things. Sure, I'm not traipsing about in cut-off and short jean skirts anymore. I'm not guzzling Captain Morgan straight out of the bottle or going to restaurants and other fine establishments in my (cringe) pajamas. But, I am still spending ungodly amounts of time on the Internet and Facebook. I am still eating Nutella and peanut butter on a spoon, straight out of the jar, as I watch the Kardashians. I still want Ramen noodles for breakfast. I think of my year in semesters and wonder when I get to have spring and summer breaks again. When did there become so few holidays?! Oh, right, when I entered the "real world". I don't have a 401k. I still actively search out babysitting jobs.

None of these things (or lack thereof) seem very adult to me. Oh well.

Here are a few snippets from my birthday weekend.

You should know that W and I are not very sentimental people when it comes to gift-giving amongst ourselves. We aren't big on exchanging gifts and surprising one another. I don't really find either of those things very romantic. Yes, my heart is an iceberg. I don't know. Material things are just that. Materials! They don't mean that much to me. I find the kisses W insists on smothering and scratching all over my neck much more romantic--annoying, yes--but more special than any piece of jewelry he could every give me. Unless its a 10 karat diamond. Kidding..... I would rather sit with him on the couch all night than pay a large amount of money to eat at a nice restaurant.

I don't like the pressure of having to gift someone something or do something spectacular or them having to do that for me--especially when its W. Because, if I'm being perfectly honest, I find everyday with him to be one of the most precious gifts I've ever been given. I'm not trying to suck up here or anything, but I feel really, really lucky to get to spend the rest of my life with him. I love waking up next to him--well, he is usually out of the bed hours before me. But, on the rare occasion that I beat him to it, I enjoy nothing more than rolling over, snuggling up to him and sticking my pinky finger in his ear.

That is romance.

So back to gifts and the act of giving. I like doing those things normally just without the social impetus and expectation. So, I ramble to say that that adorable little necklace on my neck in the picture above was something I saw, wanted, and asked W to get me for my birthday. And, he did! And, I love it.

Isn't that better than him getting me something that I won't wear or don't really like or would never ever use? I think so. Is it boring and practical and lacking all that sparkle and imagination? Yes, but that's just me in a nutshell.

W wanted to take me to a fancy dinner for my birthday on Saturday night. And I was all on board because I love good food. But after last week's dinner party, luncheon, and fundraiser, I wanted none of the pomp and circumstance that goes with two very poor people treating themselves to a fancy dinner. I just didn't have the energy or desire. Pair all of that with high school PROM night and I wanted to stay as far away from all of the "fancy restaurants" as I could get. I just don't have the stomach to watch awkward pre-prom date interactions between girls in shiny and bright and colorful dresses and hair-sprayed do's and gangly boys in (gag) white tuxes and light pink cummerbunds. Sidenote: I definitely feel adult in comparison to them.

W canceled our reservations and we went out for unpretentious margs and mexican with some friends. It was perfect.

I think that in addition to grain alcohol, our particular Mexican restaurant must also crush up Ambiens for that little extra something in their margaritas. By 8:30, W and I were both fighting heavy eyelids and losing miserably. We looked at one another, fingers propping our eyelids open, and vowed that we would not go to bed before 10pm. We spent the rest of the evening, dozing and watching, of course, Harry Potter!

Sunday dawned beautiful if a bit chilly. W made me a delicious omelet and latte before we went to the flea market. The flea market here is usually a disappointment, but you just never know. People frequently find thousand and million dollar works of art at West Virginia fleas. I was hoping I had some birthday magic and would find my Renoir in an old sack of baseball cards. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

After that, W abandoned me for his studies. Story of my life. So, I took my sad, birthday girl self to my favorite antique shop and got this beauty:

Its a vintage Aladdin lamp. I'm in love.
It now looks perfect with a shade here:

I also found vintage drinking glasses. I will post those soon.

After my shopping spree, I made myself my new favorite thing ever:

This stuff is so good. One of the major positives that came out of my incredibly busy last week was this recipe. We had a War of 1812 food historian lead a lecture and demo. She demoed this cheese deliciousness and I couldn't wait to make it myself so that I could eat as much as I wanted without judgment and having to share.

Its a wheel of brie that you cut in half horizontally. Then, put a small layer of roquefort or any bleu cheese in between the brie slices. Slightly warm the cheese in the oven or microwave and serve with GINGER SNAP COOKIES. Omg. I will never eat brie cheese without ginger snaps ever again. It is so incredible. She also stuck sprigs of fresh rosemary in hers which was delicious. I just forgot to pick some up. Enjoy with a glass of rosè. (Groan.) I want that right now.

Then, I made a pork loin with apples and caramelized onions, cauliflower puree and roasted brussel sprouts.

After dinner, W quit his studies and we curled up on the couch and watched the ABC Family world premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

It was a perfect birthday.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

One More Gratuitous Running Post

Are you sick of the running posts yet?

I hope not because you should know that I don't have a life, friends, a husband (well, med school just has most of him), a hobby, children, etc.

What do I have?

My cats. But they hate me, so they don't really count.

TV. There is always TV.

And running.

Yep. That about sums it up.

I still don't like running, but the act of going for a run has gotten easier. I even want to run most of the time. One mile in and I would swear on W's life that I actually never ever wanted to run in the first place and will never ever run again from that point forward.

But I would be lying.


Let's talk about this sudden transformation from running-hater to running-tolerator.

Last Thursday was a busy day. I have two parties at work this week, so I was scrambling all last week weeding the gardens, washing china and crystal, taking reservations, etc. I was also trying to get everything squared away so that I could leave at noon on Friday to go out of town for a wedding. I didn't end up leaving work on Thursday until 4:30, which put me walking into the apartment at 4:45. I had a Junior League fundraiser that night at 6 and I had to be there at 6 sharp.

Well, I got home and decided that I needed to go for a run. In fact, I needed--no, wait for it--wanted to do 3 miles.

Who am I????

This meant that I would have to run, cool down, shower, make myself presentable and be out the door by 5:55.


What has happened to me?!?!

Before, I would have been rejoicing for such a perfect excuse to not run.

But, nooooooo. This new B wants to run.

I was pumped. I was feeling good. I ran.

And, it sucked. It sucked so bad.

My legs felt like lead pipes. My shins were throbbing. Compartment syndrome crossed my mind as tingles ran up the fronts of my legs threatening to rip open the skin.

I was sputtering. I was limping. I was grunting, dragging my left foot behind me.

But, I was still running, or at least attempting the motions. I was determined to maintain the high that got me out there in the first place.

It didn't work.


After the first mile, I thought I would just quit. I rationalized with myself that I didn't really have time to run 3 miles, cool down, shower and get to the fundraiser by 6. I was crazy to think I could manage it. I should just stop now.

But, I didn't. I wanted to keep going. I wanted to finish.

I, too, no longer know myself, apparently. I think I was abducted by aliens or brainwashed or SOMETHING. There is no explanation.

Anyways, I didn't quit. I kept going. Sure, it wasn't my best time, but I finished without dying or worse, stopping.

(Sidenote: Why is it that on those days when you are most pumped to run, you SUCK the worst of your entire life? I blame Newton and his damn laws.)

And then I barely made it to the fundraiser on time, but I was showered and dressed!

Sure, I was sweating clear through my dress and cardigan. Yeah, I was gulping mini bottles of water as everyone else around me sipped their Chardonnays. And I was definitely in the corner dabbing tinted moisturizer on my cheeks to cover the purple-lobster-face-running-induced splotches that plague me. BUT, I was there. AND, I had not made an excellent excuse not to run.

It was a proud moment.

Skip to Monday afternoon--TRAINING DAY ONE.

A day that will now forever live in infamy as THE DAY I TOLD THE WORLD I WOULD START TRAINING AND I DIDN'T. I didn't even run. I didn't even walk.

I am disgusted with myself.

Again, aren't you all just so impressed by my level of commitment to absolutely nothing (except W.. and reality TV)??

I had every intention of running, y'all. Swear. But it was raining. No, pouring. Sure, on my drive home, I passed a few (real) runners, jogging it out on the path, drenched, hair plastered to their skulls, shirts attached to them like shrink wrap, shoes squelching from the flood. I admired them. I thought that maybe I was one of them. Heck, I planned to join them in about ten minutes. High fives were definitely in order. I was a runner, gee dee it.

What I am is a big chicken. I got home. Quickly donned my running gear. Tied my shoes. Put on my IPod arm thingy. Zipped up my rain jacket. Descended the steps. Took one look out the door and slowly turned and made my way back up the stairs. Unzipped my jacket. Took off my IPod arm thingy. And vacuumed the whole apartment.


That counts as cardio, right?

Of course, by 8pm, mid-dinner, the sun was out and the earth was smiling. Argh.

Mother Nature! I recycle! Cut me some slack!

So, I didn't run on Monday. And on Tuesday, I worked a dinner party that I had planned, washed dishes, crystal and silverware for, set the tables and chairs for, weeded the garden and pulled all 150 dead tulips for, cleaned the museum and bathrooms for, bartended, semi-waitressed, attended, and then led tours of the museum at the end. That took about 14 hours.

I planned to skip out at about 3pm, mid setup, for a quick 3 mile jaunt to begin my training. Well, at 3pm, I, being the only employee and sole party planner, giver and one of the 18 attendees, was elbows deep in toilets and lemon/lime slicing and silver polishing. No run for B.

I got home at 10pm and was dead-tired.

But I told the Internet I would start training this week!!!!

I decided I would start training on Wednesday.

WRONG. I slept through three alarms, rushed to get ready. I had another event to manage and attend--a meeting and luncheon. I spent most of the morning attempting to get 3 laptops connected to the internet--unsuccessfully--while also fielding the meeting attendees and checking the reservation list, collecting checks, pointing out the bathrooms, etc. Let's not talk about how the venue crammed us all into a back room that they had forgotten to tell us about that was blazing hot, adding to the already boiling tempers.

Did I mention that W is in his general surgery rotation now, so has been getting up at 4:15am? Did I mention that I am not sleeping very well because of this?


I was so tired and could only think about the mountains of dishes and crystal and silverware from the previous evening's dinner party that were just waiting to be washed.

The meeting and luncheon finally ended but not before it was interrupted THREE times by this poor woman who had to go through our meeting room to get to the handicap bathroom. I felt so bad for her as she was horrified. But what was she to do? Of course, none of us were upset with her but that paired with the jigglier than jello quiche and iceberg--GASP--lettuce that we were served for lunch and the last minute room switch and the LIMITED internet access that really meant NO internet access was enough to put us all over the edge.

I just wanted to go home and curl up with one or two cats and watch reruns of House Hunters International. But I didn't. I couldn't. I had stemware to wash. Which I did. Then, I went home and crashed until W came home and whisked my poor tummy off to its weakness: pizza.

So, I ate it and am currently suffering, but it was delicious and worth it.

Today, the museum is being rented for a fundraiser, which is less work for me--once I finish drying all of the washed dishes and silverware--but it means that I am here for another 14 hour day.

Cue violin.

My fingers are prunes and my running shoes are so very empty.

TOMORROW. I will run tomorrow!

NEXT WEEK. I will start my training next week!

Did I mention I turn 26 on Sunday? I kind of like having weeks like this before one that promises to be so special! I wonder what W has planned?!


Monday, May 6, 2013

Half-Marathon Training with B

The time has (regrettably) come for me to start training for the upcoming half-marathon on August 17 in Eerie, PA.

Thanks to a runner friend, this is the training program that I will be using.

Here is the schedule:

I will begin my week 1 either today or tomorrow. I have two work commitments this week on Tuesday and Thursday evening, so I will be adjusting my schedule to fit in all of my runs. I will also be at the beach for the entirety of week 9. Eek. I hope I can stay committed.

This whole week is calling for never-ending rain, so I have asked my expert about treadmill running. He did not seem happy about it either. He said, if you must, use an incline of 1.5 or 2. There you have it.

Good luck to all of you other trainees out there!

PS - I run on a jogging path that is adjacent to "the boulevard" and the river. This is a high-traffic path with lots and lots of runners. In the middle of my runs, when I am struggling the most, I want nothing more than to high-five the other runners as we pass. Is that weird? I just really feel like it would give me that extra motivation to finish fast. Do you concur? Would you return the high-five? Would it make your running experience better, easier, etc.?


PPS - I officially hate the 2x2 walkers on the jogging path. You know the ones. The path is only really wide enough for two people to walk/run side by side, yet when you come barreling up on the 2x2 walkers, they don't budge. They just keep meandering, side by side, taking up the majority of the path. Have I mentioned that this path is squeezed in between a very steep hill that plummets down to the river and a boulevard--with speeding vehicles flying up and down it?! So, because they don't move, I have to slide past them on tip toes while maintaining my stride. I swear, it takes everything in me not to send a pointy elbow smashing into their arm when they refuse to MOVE THE EFF OVER. Get in EFFING SINGLE FILE. Kindergartners are smarter than these 2x2 walkers. MOVE, walkers. MOVE.

Does this tirade mean that I am a real runner now?

Here is a site on running etiquette and "how to pass politely." And elbows, are not involved. Apparently.

PPPS - Seriously, let us know if you are running, too! Or, share any and all tips. God knows, I could really use them.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

B's Favorite Links

So, I spend a lot of time on the internet.

And none of you are surprised.

Moving on.

I thought I would share my favorite corners of the internet that I have been enjoying over the past week.

Dive right in.


As the challenges of the 21st century demand more from each of us, shouldn’t we be thinking as much about how to free up more women for the common good as we do about immigration, entitlement reform and debt reduction?

I am not a feminist and hope that term is never used to describe me. What I am is a champion and supporter of women. Move over, middle-aged white men, the ladies are comin' atya!

This guy went one year without the internet and lived to tell us all that, well, it really wasn't that awesome.

When I saw this article in my Facebook newsfeed, I almost didn't want to read it. I was afraid of what it might say--that life is so much better without the internet. That its more fulfilling. More complete. More lived. Well, after reading it, I rejoiced, cyber hugged all 598 of my Facebook Friends, pinned 9 cute cat pictures, retweeted Charlie Sheen and Instagrammed a ceiling fan. FOR THE HELL OF IT. And it felt good.

The mere thought of uninterrupted introspection that would take place sans internet is enough to send me googling "cat memes," "how to peel a banana like a monkey," and "what are 'intents and purposes' and why do we want all of them" immediately and indefinitely.

I love you, Internet.


Great advice that made me feel less frustrated about my 9 to 5.


Do you like archaeology and medieval warfare and bashed skulls?
Then, you should read this ^ article.

What about forensic anthropology and cannibalism? 

Check this out: 

Well, W and I are off to NC-SC for the weekend. Its that time of the year: wedding season!