Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Running


On April 10, 2011 I ran my fifth half marathon. Exactly one year prior, I laced up my sneakers and headed out for a walk. I never knew that it would change my life.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be running multiple half marathons. When I mentioned my accomplishment on facebook and twitter, I had a few friends ask me for advice on how to start running. I’m not a super athlete nor am I sports medicine specialist. By most standards, I’m fairly slow. I’m not wholly comfortable telling people how to start. I will be glad to share some tips or things I wish I had known when I had started running.

  • Invest in a good pair of running shoes.

    My current shoes Saucony Progrid Guide 3

    This sounds simple enough, but it is very important. Don’t wait until your old shoes wear out. Buy a new pair when you first start out. I say invest because a good pair of running shoes can cost about $100. It is well worth the money. Good shoes just aren’t about taking care of your feet. Good shoes early on can PREVENT a lot of overuse injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. I learned this the hard way. My first pair of shoes was purchased on sale from Nordstrom Rack. I bought them simply because I like the brand and they looked like they were good shoes. A month into my running my heels began to hurt and I started to develop shin splints. Thankfully, I went to my local running store and was fitted for the proper shoes. I was wearing the wrong shoes for the way I run. With some time and good stretches, the problems resolved themselves.

    I have to emphasis going to a running specialty store, not a big box sporting goods store like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Chalet, Sports Authority, etc. The big box stores are great, but your local running store are staffed with experienced folks who will fit you for shoes based on the way you run or walk. They can also give you great advice on running.

    Buying shoes doesn’t have to be expensive. Once a shoe is recommended to you, you can always ask if they have last season’s model of the same shoe on sale. I got my latest pair of shoes for $59 simply because they were “old”.

    Don’t buy shoes based on ads or what your friends wear. Everyone’s feet are different. Strides and running mechanics vary. You really have to wear what works for you. I recently started wearing Saucony. My sister loves her Asics. We have similar body builds, but run differently. Hence the difference in shoes.

  • Buy performance/wicking workout clothes.
    100% Cotton is not your friend. When I started walking, I wore old t-shirts and sweatpants. I was heavier and quite frankly that’s all that would fit. In the beginning, this wasn’t a problem. It was cooler and I really didn’t break too much of a sweat. Once I started really moving, it became a problem. Cotton absorbs moisture. This means that if you’re a sweat monster like me your clothes and socks become a wet, sloppy mess. In the summer, this makes you hotter. In the winter, you are colder. Think about it. Cold and wet. Not a good combo. Wet socks are a breeding ground for blisters. When you’re uncomfortable, you’re less likely to continue your workout.

    The solution is clothes made of wicking material or cotton blends. I have a personal preference for Nike Women’s line of running clothes. I’m obsessed with the Nike Tempo Track Shorts. My friends Jen and Kipp gave them to me as a birthday gift. They fit comfortably and don’t ride up when you run. I like them so much that I now own 7 pairs. I also like Nike tops and sports bras. I posted on my tumblr my favorite jog bra. Nike clothes are a bit pricey, but I’ve found that Nike.com puts their clothes on sale frequently. They can also be found at a significant discount at TJMaxx, Marshall’s and Ross. Another affordable option is Champion C9 from Target. Like Nike, Target also puts their workout clothes on sale. I’ve bought sleeveless tanks for $2.48 a piece. Just make sure that you buy Duo Dry®, which is their wicking fabric. This is available for men and women.
  • Nike + system sucks.
    Yeah… I said it. One of my early motivators when I started walking/running was the Nike+ system. I loved that it gave me so much info and feedback about my workouts. It posted to my twitter and facebook accounts. Those posts generated support from my friends. It also allowed me to chart my progress. Sounds good so far, right?

    My problem with the Nike + system (not to be confused with the Nike+ GPS app) is that it is highly inaccurate. This article explains how the Nike+ works. The Nike+ essentially calculates your speed and distance based on the steps you take. It’s hard to explain, but unless you recalibrate your Nike+ sensor often it’s wildly inaccurate. This meant that when I ran my 1st 5k I sprinted when I thought I have 1k left. Turns out, the Nike+ was off. I still had 2k left. I ran out of steam before the finish. The Nike+ also led me to believe I was a much faster runner than I actually was. This leads me to my next suggestion…
  • Download the Runkeeper app
    This app is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. They have a free version that works well for most beginners. You download the app and it uses the GPS system already available on your phone. The app is very easy-to-use and accurate. Like the Nike+ system, it charts your progress and allows you to post to social media. It sounds silly, but the posts on Facebook and Twitter are helpful. I got some much needed encouragement when I first started running/walking. The charts give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Get on a program
    You don’t have to do anything hardcore. Many people love the Couch to 5K program. I downloaded a Couch to 5K app that was a little too advanced for my out-of-shape self. I am a fan of Hal Higdon’s workout plans. There are dozens of others. Find one that sounds workable for you. Having a little structure keeps you going and helps prevents injury. All of the beginning programs are structured so that you build up slowly and don’t hurt yourself. Believe it or not, if you do too much, too soon, you could be in for a world of hurt.
  • Join a running group
    The running community is the most supportive group of people I have ever seen. From elite runners to “slowpokes”, everyone is willing to help everyone else progress. By joining a group, you can meet people who are the same skill level or slightly faster than you. You can motivate one-another, commiserate in your aches and pains, and revel in your small victories. For my lady friends, it’s also a safety issue. There is safety in numbers. Having company also makes your runs that much more enjoyable. You won’t believe how quickly 3 miles passes with the right people by your side. This is something that I didn’t learn until just recently.

    You can find running buddies through sources like Meetup.com or your local running store. There is a group for everyone. I live in a medium-sized city. There are dozens of groups – mommy groups, morning runners, evening runners, church groups, after-work groups, etc, etc.If you can’t find a local running group, get a virtual running group. I joined DailyMile. DailyMile is a social networking site where you can post your runs and workouts and other members can comment. If you’re having a tough day, people can send you “motivation”. They also have challenges like “Run 50 miles in a month” and “Daily Missions” where they ask you questions like “Name your proudest achievement”.  If you get into running, it can also save you from boring your non-runner friends with all your running-related stories.
  • Sign up for a 5K
    Notice I said 5K, not Half Marathon. Also I might point out that I didn’t put a timeframe on how soon you should do your first 5k. Some people need 6 months to train. Others need a few weeks. It really depends on you. Doing a 5K gives you a goal. Again, goals keep you motivated. 5K races are short, but sweet. It is a very satisfying feeling to cross that finish line no matter how long it takes you to get there. Depending on the race organizers, there usually a post-race party and free t-shirt involved. If you register early enough, most 5Ks cost about $20-25 dollars.
  • Have fun.
    D had to remind me of this. I was beating myself up because I wasn’t “improving” as much as I liked nor was I as fast as our friends. It’s easy to get caught up on the numbers or compare yourself to others. I have a very competitive group of runner friends and felt really badly that I “kept them all waiting” at races. Once I let all of that go and let the endorphins take over, running became enjoyable again.

That’s my long-winded take on it all. For those that read all of it, I hope you weren’t too terribly bored. If you want more info from the pros, here are some other useful links:

How to Start as a Runner from Runners World

Newbie Runners articles from Active.com

Happy Running 🙂

Mile High Hijinks

October 13-19, 2010 – Denver, Colorado

I was graciously invited by Regina and her sister Claudina to visit Denver, CO.  And Regina has been quite persistent. She’s been trying to get me out there for YEARS. 5 years to be exact. Rob and I shied her off with a variety of excuses.  Then, I divorced Rob and ran out of excuses. I hadn’t seen these two since my wedding in 2007. I love them to pieces. They’re like long-lost sisters or cousins. On occasion, I’ve even told people we were cousins.

Regina, me, and Claudina - August 2007

I cashed in my Frequent Flyer Miles and booked a flight to Denver. Regina has had slightly ulterior motives. She’s trying to get me to move to Denver. Since I was in the midst of my city search, I added Denver to the list. What did I have to lose? By many accounts, Denver would be my kind of city. It’s accessible to the mountains where you can enjoy as many outdoor activities as you can stomach. It has an art scene and an award-winning restaurant scene.

Regina's dog Bruiser - Jr. Host

I couldn’t have asked for better hostesses. I stayed with Regina and Claudina in their cozy townhome/railroad-style apartment. I wish I had taken pictures of the place because it was so cute and chic.

I did a lot of exploring while I was there… most of which was by choice on foot.  Denver is a very walkable city with wide well-maintained bike/walking paths. You can definitely feel the altitude difference, especially someone like me who lives at sea-level and has asthma. That didn’t stop me. My only disappointment is that I didn’t get to go out to mountains and hike. I suspected that happened as a ploy for me to plan a return trip.

Invesco Field, which was literally right up the street from Regina's house

A view of the Millennium Bridge in Downtown Denver

Night view of the same bridge

Larimer Square

Falling Rock Taphouse

Big Blue Bear: Colorado Convention Center - "I See What You Mean." 40-foot high steel sculpture, encased in a fiberglass and cement composite, by artist Lawrence Argent.

Denver also has a thriving art and craft scene. It’s a little on the hipster side, but I can’t help but envy them for it. Claudina and I perused much of the Craft and Yarn stores in the immediate vicinity.

Crocheted public art adorning construction site near Union Station

Fancy Tiger - Craft shop

Fancy Tiger Craft shop

Local Craft Show

Of course, I ate like someone who was just rescued from a desert island. I do this every time I go out-of-town. It’s now part of my modus operandi.

Spring Rolls, Vietnamese Iced Coffe, and Phở from Phở So

Tom Ka Kai and Thai Iced Tea from Thai Basil

Drunken Noodles with beef from Thai Basil

There was also some drinking involved… I shan’t disclose exactly how much except to say the margaritas were fantastico.

Margaritas from Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant - They packed a big punch. The little one in front was mine.

Out of all the eateries, my favorite was Snooze A.M. Eatery. By Saturday, Darius had arrived. Snooze was recommended to him. We waited over an hour for a seat, but it was oh-so-worth it.

Circular Booths at Snooze

D's Pancake Flight - Buttermilk, Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin pancakes

D's Chorizo breakfast taco

My "Sandwich I Am" - soft pretzel roll filled with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and a sausage patty, served with a side of smoked cheddar hollandaise & house hash browns.

I was also there to run Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon with Regina who was running with Team-in-Training.

Regina and reminder of who she was running for

It was freezing at the start!

Regina, me, and Darius freezing at the start of the race

The Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon was a great Half Marathon. The course was very scenic. It brought you past many of Denver’s landmarks like Pepsi Center and Coors Field. My favorite part of the course was in City Park. There was a point in the park where you had breath-taking vista of the city and the mountains. Unfortunately, my ankles were not fans of the crowned roads through the park. I learned the hard way not to run on the outsides of crowned roads.
Darius started well ahead of us. Regina and I kept a good pace… until we needed to take a potty break. There wasn’t nearly enough portapottys along the course route. We eventually stopped at a coffee-house to use their facilities. The wait cost us about 10-12 minutes on our overall race time. It did give us a nice opportunity for a photo-op.

Regina and me at our Potty Stop

Somewhere in city park, Regina had some hip troubles and I continued on without her. I was doing well until I got to some of the uphill sections around mile 9 and 10. After that, it was a struggle to finish. The altitude didn’t help with my asthma. I did finish. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

Sprinting to the finish - photo by Darius Daniel

Darius and I at the Finish

Regina and I at the Team-in-Training tent - photo by Darius Daniel

After the race, we had my favorite post-race meal – burgers! Don’t ask me why I love burgers after a race, but with a 1900 calorie post-race deficit I’m not going to question it.

Citygrille Burger from City Grille - Half lb. freshly ground sirloin, melted Swiss, bacon and the Grille's zesty Caesar dressing

This was a good trip. In case it isn’t obvious, I really liked Denver. If it was the 27 year-old version of myself who was an avid climber and outdoorswoman visiting, I’d probably just have Myles and my things shipped to me in Denver. I wouldn’t even bother with my return ticket. However, my current incarnation is very gun-shy about moving halfway across the country again. As much as I love Regina and Claudina, I think they’d get tired of me quickly… hahaha. So, Denver is going to stay one of my favorite vacation destinations. Besides, I have some mountains I still need to explore 😉

Bye-bye 2010, Hello 2011

Special Note: I know, I know I am have become the worst of the worst when it comes to blogging. My last post was on Cicely’s birthday which was almost 2 months ago. I won’t make excuses except to say that if you really want to keep up with me, check my Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. I think Tumblr may contribute to my lack of blogging. It satiates my need for self-expression with minimal fuss and time. As much as I enjoy blogging, writing is a major endeavor for me, similar to a magazine editorial. I write, re-write and research just the right photos for each post. It takes a lot of effort. My friend John Cachero does a great job of summing up the Blog vs. Tumblr thing in this post.

Another culprit for my lack of blogging is my limited amount of Alone Time. I have many obligations that keep me busy. No Alone Time = No time to collect and better articulate my thoughts = No blog posts.

Back to the post at hand.

This is the One-year Anniversary of this blog “Adventures of Anne K.” and my Four-year Anniversary as a blogger was this past Thanksgiving. In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d give my thoughts on 2010 and my hopes for 2011.

2010

This was a banner year. For the first time in a very long time, the “highs” outnumbered the “lows”.

The Lows

  • Everything and Anything associated with filing for Divorce.
    Is there any explanation needed? I think I’ve ranted enough on this topic.
  • Moving cross-country in stages
    My move from L.A. to VA didn’t go as smoothly as I would’ve liked. I moved in 3 stages. This meant I said “goodbye” to L.A., to family, and to Dottie three separate times. My heart broke each time. At this juncture, I would be hard to convince to make any other trips to Southern California. SoCal is in my “No Visit Zone”.
  • Starting Over and Transitioning
    As much as I am a proponent of starting over and re-vamping your life, there are still moments when it sucks. When I sit in the bedroom I had as a teenager emailing resumes, I miss the awesome job and the apartment I had pre-Rob. Heck! I miss any place that I lived where I had privacy and unlimited Alone Time and any job that paid me higher than minimum wage. Starting Over means you can rewrite your future, but it can also mean starting with nothing. Transitioning means your trapped in a sort of limbo. Overall the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
  • Freelancing declined
    For the last 2.5 years, my freelancing kept me somewhat comfortable financially. Last year it took a nosedive. I suspect the decline in business had to do with the move, the divorce, and the current economic climate or any combination of the three. Either way, I had several big jobs fall through and that stung a bit.

The Highs

  • Travel, travel and more travel
    It should be obvious by now that I loved to travel. Due to financial constraints, Rob and I didn’t travel nearly enough. 2010 made up for that in spades. Cross-Country Roadtrip. Toronto Roadtrip. NYC. Wilmington. Philadelphia. Denver. I can’t expect 2011 to have nearly that much travel, but if I can take a few trips I’ll be a VERY happy camper.
  • New Friends and Reconnecting with Old Friends
    I was apprehensive about moving back home because I wasn’t sure where I would fit in. Many of the local people I had known were in different places in their lives – places where we couldn’t relate to one another. (i.e. they were happily married with kids and I was divorced and childless.) I have been able to reconnect with people from my past. Through the magical thing called the internet specifically Twitter, I found a gaggle of new friends and reconnected with some old ones. I was really lucky. One of these new friends became a more-than-friend. Yes, D, I’m talking about you. It turns out I wasn’t going to be sitting and moping in my bedroom on Saturday nights after all.
  • Better Health
    As I have said repeatedly, the stress of my L.A. Life was killing me. Stress headaches/Migraines. High blood pressure. Extra Weight. Insomnia. It was all taking its toll. I was starting to feel like a woman in my late 40s instead of my mid 30s. This was the year that I got it under control. I couldn’t be more grateful and relieved.
  • Running
    There are plenty of posts regarding this. No need to elaborate. Just know that I’m reveling in my new-found passion.
  • Cultural Re-awakening
    I attended countless live musical performances and gallery openings. From big name acts like Jay-Z to small-town bands like Today The Moon, Tomorrow the Sun, I was privy to some great performances. Shop Window Art. Sidewalk Chalk Murals. Photography exhibits. I was moved and inspired. Who says only big cities have culture?
  • The Adventures of Myles
    I was gifted Myles in late 2009. 2010 is his 1st year with me. It’s probably weird to list my dog, but he has definitely added to my quality of life. There are moments when he drives me absolutely crazy, but he kept me company and made my smile during my “blue period”. I have also had a blast photographing his antics. He definitely keeps my life from being dull.

2011

If 2010 was for transitioning and healing, 2011 is where I hit my stride, the pieces fall back into place and all is right with the universe. Okay, maybe the universe part is a bit grandiose. Here’s what I expect from 2011.

  • Better position financially

    Whether this means my business takes off like a rocket into the atmosphere or I pick up a 9-to-5 gig, I’m not 100% certain. If I had to choose between the two, I’d love to continue being my own boss. I just know that I need to be making more money this year than I did last year. Money doesn’t solve your problems, but it certainly gives you options. I like having options. Besides, I have to dig myself out of the financial hole that my marriage put me in.
  • A place of my own

    I’m grateful that my parents invited me back home after my initial separation. It was a godsend and I’m eternally grateful. However, this lil’ bird is happiest with her own nest. So much of my identity is tied into my sense of independence. Without a place to call home, I’m a little out of sorts. I will remedy this shortly.
  • Continued Travel

    While I would love to add some international travel, continuing to visit previously unseen parts of the U.S. suits me just fine. There’s a lot of this country I have not yet seen.
  • Create more handmade goods

    My friend Jini posted on Facebook how she’d make a handmade item for you if you agreed to make a handmade item for 5 other people. I thought it was a great idea and joined in.  I have committed to make items throughout the year for 10 different people. I think this would be challenging and fun. It’ll keep my sewing machine going and my crochet hooks from gathering dust. If I can squeeze it in, I might even learn to knit.
  • Be more charitable.

    Times are tough all around, but I know my situation could be much worse. I’m going to do more volunteer work. It gives greater perspective. I would really love to get my friends together and work on a Habitat for Humanity home. Too often it is said that my generation is apathetic. I’d like to disprove that notion.
  • Run a Marathon

    This one is a bit of a doozy, but it’s secretly been on my bucket list for a while. I have always admired my friends who have had the discipline and the gumption to run a Full Marathon.  I really enjoy Half Marathons, but I really want to see if I have what it takes to run 26.2 Miles. I will be doing this with the help of Team in Training. Not only will I be running to test my own abilities, I’ll be raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I just need to decide which marathon I want to do.

This concludes my 1st post for 2011. Hope it was worth reading 😉

Here’s to 2011 being an exceptional year for us all!

If you only get one

If in life you’re only allowed one best friend, time and time again I’d pick the one I already have – Cicely. At the writing of this post, we have been friends for 10 years. Of those 10 years, we have only lived in the same time zone for 2 years. The rest of the time, we’ve been physically separated by thousands of miles. That does not deter us.. at all. Thanks to cell phones, the internet, and plane tickets we are as close as ever.

If you had told me at the MacArthur Mall Chili’s that this woman would become my best friend, I’d have laughed in your face. After all, this Trollope was on a campaign to get me fired for reasons that aren’t 100% clear to me to this day. Thankfully, I diffused her plan and somehow changed her mind about me. Then, we became fast friends and eventually roommates.

I’m convinced that our time as roommates solidified our friendship for life. We rented a condo that would make even the evilest of slumlords blush. All I have to say is broken water heater, flooded condo, and carpeting that was never replaced. I leave the rest to your imagination. In addition to the craptastic condo, we were working college students. Both of us worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and go to school full-time. If one of us was short on cash, the other would cover for her. We were a team. It was tough, but our lives were not glum. We had a menagerie of..um.. boy toys to keep us occupied whose names were inconsequential so they received nicknames like “Cabana Boy” and “Façonnable”. If we got bored with them, we window shopped, watched Sex and the City on VHS (?!) and ate cupcakes. (We were ahead of the curve on the cupcake trend.) That time was awful and wonderful all at the same .

We graduated from college and went our separate ways physically. She to North Carolina and I to California. This did not break our bond. When we both married idiots who both ironically had the last name of Rodriguez (no relation), we were the best Maids of Honor around. For her wedding, all I’m going to say is “Vegas Wedding”. I think the fiasco can be inferred. It was so bad that we have sworn to never return to Las Vegas. For my wedding, she was the ultimate Maid of Honor. I dragged this poor woman in the blazing SoCal Summer heat to ferry people from the airport, pick up wedding favors, arrange flowers, wrangle my family, and various other wedding madness. When my wedding day turned out to be the most disastrous day, she calmed me down and wished me the best.

These little anecdotes really don’t express my deep affection and love for this woman. In all seriousness, she saved my life not once, but twice. In the midst of our college experience, I suffered a major depressive episode (read: nervous breakdown). I was overwhelmed by familial pressures, school, and work. (This is being simplistic) When the days of not getting out of bed turned into weeks and my thoughts became suicidal, it was Cicely who urged me to seek professional help. She even had the name and numbers of professionals ready for me. The whole time she was compassionate and made no judgments about my condition. If not for her intervention, I doubt highly that I would still be here today.

When the marriage that she had wished to be the best turned out to be the worst, she was there. Initially, she was a shoulder to cry on and sounding board for my venting. When my sadness turned to hopelessness and despair, Cicely was among the first to tell me that there is no shame in ending a failing marriage. When I was finally fed up and bold enough to leave, she was there to drive me home. The whole trip she alternated between consoling me and making me laugh. Again without her support, I wouldn’t have had the strength to leave a marriage that nearly killed me.

Today in honor of her birthday, I’d like to toast my very best friend, Cicely Walker. She is a tour-de-force. I am happily Gayle to her Oprah. She keeps me grounded and laughs at my foibles (there are a lot). She is the sexiest and smartest woman I know – a deadly combination. Most importantly, she taught me how to be tough in the face of adversity and to do so with style, grace, and panache. When my hand is on the panic button, she is always there to gently ease and/or pry it off.

Happy Birthday, Cicely. I know you hate the idea of birthdays, but without it you wouldn’t be here and I’d be bored and lonely. I love you more than words can say!

P.S. I promise that I won’t let you marry another asshole 😉

XoXo, Anne K.

Progress Report

A year ago today, I took the first big step in starting my life over. At 9AM last year, I boarded a Virgin America flight from Orange County bound for Washington, D.C. I had 10 boxes in tow – 1o boxes that held most of what I hold dear.

I was leaving the life that I had spent 7 years building, a relationship that I had been in for nearly 6 years, and the dog that I had raised for 5 years. I cried most of the flight. I have never been filled with so much uncertainty and heartache as I was on that day. Despite this, I knew that leaving was the best thing I could do for myself.

Staying in a relationship where I was miserable and stressed to the point of physical illness would have been lunacy. I gave new meaning to loving someone until it kills you. Make no mistake, I loved Rob. However, sometimes love isn’t enough… especially when someone doesn’t love you nearly as much in return.

So, I ended a marriage that wasn’t working and had no hope of surviving. I received a second chance and a new lease on life that many people never get.

I could not have done it without my support system.

I have an amazing family – both immediate and extended. My immediate family drives me crazy sometimes, but I know that when I need them they’re there. I would not have even considered leaving Rob if my parents hadn’t generously invited me to move back home. Both of my siblings Cathee and Nate stepped up and assisted me at crucial moments. My grandma has been my cheerleader and source of consolation. In addition, I have a multitude of Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins that have been there for me in ways that I hope to repay someday.

I have a plethora of friends who rallied to support me. My best friend Cicely counseled me and drove with me cross-country. My other dear friend Neleh helped me transition back to Virginia and threatened to remove me from my folks’ home lest I keep hiding in my bedroom. Of course, I had countless other friends who offered advice and stories of encouragement. The most amazing part is that I have not met many of these friends in person. Many are people who I chat with on Twitter or are blog friends. In essence, they were total strangers.

Where am I a year later?

I’m healthier than I’ve been in years. As I have exclaimed all over this blog, I am now a runner.

This hasn’t been the easiest year. There have been a few setbacks. I’m not entirely where I want to be, but there has been progress. Even a little progress is better than where I was before.

I took a hiatus from The Paper Stylist to focus on the rest of my design and photography work. This has given me the opportunity to restructure and evaluate what I want to do. I have been able to expand my portfolio. I’m excited about the projects I have on the Horizon.

Just when I thought I would hate living in Virginia, I had two fortuitous breaks. One is that I started contributing as a photographer and writer for AltDaily.com. While working with them, I’ve become very involved with my community and discovered there is much more to love about this part of Virginia. The other thing is I made local friends courtesy of Twitter. I’ve been to more birthday parties and “just because” gatherings than I can even count. These folks have made my life here more than tolerable, it’s been downright enjoyable.

Traveling has once again become a hobby of mine. I have been making up for lost time. I have flown and driven many miles to visit new destinations. While I haven’t gotten any new stamps in my passport, I have seen so much of this beautiful country.

In the state that I was in a year ago, I had sworn off men and relationships. For 6 months, I hid at home. Then, I re-entered the dating arena. It was hilarious and disastrous. I was ready to swear off dating when I met someone who I ended up liking a lot. Yes, D, I’m talking about you. We went on a few dates. Somehow, a few dates turned into several. Several dates morphed into spending lots of time together. Now, we’ve been “together” for a few months. I like where we’re at and that’s all I’m going to say about it. 😉

My life is immeasurably better than it was a year ago. It’s nothing like I thought it would be and I like it.

You can start over again. Life really isn’t over until you’re dead.

Phenomenal Philly

September 17-19

I’m continuing my tour of the U.S. for the Great City Search. Next stop Philadelphia. I went to meet with some friends and to run another Half Marathon. It was decided that a road trip was in order.. I was surprised to discover that it was only a 5.5 hour drive.

Veterans Memorial Bridge - Delaware

Philadelphia City Hall - Hipstamatic Pic iPhone 4

Reading Terminal Market is a food-lover’s dream. There are stalls and stalls of tantalizing food. Fresh fruits and veggies. Cuisine from around the world. Cheeses. Desserts. It was sensory overload.

Reading Terminal Market

Bassett’s Ice Cream is absolutely delicious. If I hadn’t been so full from the Pad Thai we ate, I would’ve probably gotten my cone… or fought D for the rest of ours.

Bassett's Ice Cream at Reading Terminal Market

D with the Ice Cream we shared.

Even though it was too early for Halloween, we went to Eastern Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls. This was a big deal simply because I don’t like going to Haunted Houses. I’m jumpy and easily rattled. It makes for a nerve-wracking time for me and oodles of entertainment for anyone accompanying me. D can vouch that he was highly entertained by my level of hysteria. I’m not the best person to be the judge of scare level since I’m easily frightened, but D claims that this show is among the best he’s seen. Despite screaming the entire tour, it was definitely fun.

We met up with my dear friend Ben! (I feel compelled to always exclaim his name… Don’t ask).

Ben and I

We went to Monk’s Cafe which was highly recommended by a Philly Food Blog. After eating and drinking there, there is good reason. First, the beer selection is listed in a booklet! I love Belgian ales. I felt at home. They are renowned for their mussel pots, which was great for us, but poor thinking since we were dining with my Jewish friend. (slaps hand to forehead!). Thankfully, Ben had already eaten and didn’t mind that we gorged ourselves on shellfish.

My Thai Curry Mussels - Monk's Flemish Sour, fumè, Thai red curry, bais, garlic & coconut milk

D's Ghent Mussels - Ghent Saison Dupont, fumè, parsley, carmelized leeks, bacon, bleu cheese & garlic

We want to sample more of Philly’s nightlife and headed to Good Dog Bar. Of course, I was enthralled by the decor. They have a gallery of dog portraits on the wall.

Good Dog Bar - Philadelphia

Saturday was first full day of sightseeing. Perhaps, the phrase FULL DAY was taken too literally. We had breakfast at Bonte. They make Belgian street style waffles. They mix the fruit into the batter and cook it.  It was light and tasty.

Strawberry Waffle from Bonte

After our light breakfast, we walked to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. I’m a history buff. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting those sites. The last time I was in Philly was for a high school field trip.

Liberty Bell

Independence Hall - Hipstamatic Pic - iPhone 4

Room where Declaration of Independence was signed

Clock on Exterior of Independence Hall

We had lunch at City Tavern, which is a reconstructed replica of tavern where many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence socialized. It was über touristy, but we didn’t care. The food was good and in keeping with our historical theme for the day.

Bread made from recipes that date back to the 1700s

Fried Oysters appetizer

My Turkey Pot Pie

Next was the worst call on my part – the Philadelphia Zoo. The zoo wasn’t bad, but it was the worst choice the day before a Half Marathon. I really wanted to catch up with my childhood friend Michelle and her family. It didn’t dawn on me that there would be A LOT of walking. By the end of the zoo visit, we were beat. I feel horribly about it because it put D and I in a bad position for the next day’s Half Marathon.

Lucia, Me, Delia, & Michelle

Lucia with her favorite statue

Polar bear napping

We power-napped after the zoo and attempted to Carbo-load at Nodding Head Brewery.

Salmon from Nodding Head Brewery

Of course, Sunday was devoted to my 2nd Half Marathon. It’s hard to believe I chose to run my 2nd Half Marathon just 2 weeks after my first one. I have D to thank for that. He made it sound as though it wasn’t a big deal. To a certain extent, it wasn’t.

 

On our way to the start of the race

Bright and chipper before the start of the race

I cannot fully express how much I love race day. I’m nervous and jittery, but I enjoy every minute of it. The Rock N Roll Philadelphia course is scenic. It starts in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and goes through downtown Philadelphia. It continues along the Schuylkill River. While picturesque, that portion of the race felt endless.

 

sprinting the finish of the Philadelphia Half - iPhone 4 photo by D. Daniel

iPhone 4 photo by D. Daniel

I hit the wall at Mile 10 and started having problems with my asthma.  I struggled and still finished 8 minutes faster than the Virginia Beach Half. Woohoo!

With my finisher's medal

After the race, we paused from some tourist shots.

The infamous steps of the Philadelphia Musuem. No running up them


We had lunch at Q BBQ and Tequila. I love a good burger after a race.

A much-deseved post-race Burger and Fries

All in all, I really like Philadelphia. It has the big city feel without being quite as overwhelming as NYC. It’s definitely on my list of places to consider.

Myles Report – 1 Year

September 29, 2010

 

Myles at 3 weeks - The photo that started it all

 

I’ve only had Myles for 9 months and it has been quite a ride. He is unbelievably friendly. He love kids, older people, other dogs. There other times where he is feisty little monster. There are moments where I ask myself what I was thinking choosing a small terrier. Alas, I still love him. This crazy little dog definitely belongs with me… we’re equally quirky.

Myles had his 1st Birthday on September 29th. Before anyone jumps to conclusion, we didn’t have a party for him. There was no cake. Nada. I’m a bad dog momma, I know. We did go to the Pet Store and I did buy him a few things.

Let me recap what’s new in my über popular pup’s life.

I finally did the responsible dog owner thing and had Myles neutered. I wasn’t intentionally putting it off. I simply forgot to schedule it.

 

Time to get "fixed" - to the Vet and Back

 

He wore the “cone of shame” (Up movie reference) for 2 weeks. He was NOT happy about that.

We made the best of the summer. He went for rides in the car.

 

Myles loves riding in my pops' truck more than anything

 

He even had a few icy treats.

 

 

Dog treat from Rita's Italian Water Ice

 

He got to spend a weekend with his “girlfriends”, my friend Neleh’s pups Adobi and Pixel. Being at home with me was quite a letdown for my little Cassanova.

 

 

Myles misses Adobi & Pixel

 

Apparently, Myles would like to tweet and blog for himself.

 

 

Myles is a computer geek.

 

I’m trying desperately to train Myles to run with me, but I’m having a terrible go of it. He loves the runs initially.  However, once we go longer than a certain distance, he doesn’t want to cooperate. He will try to run back and forth in front of me to trip me or slow me down. It’s nuts. This dog is too smart sometimes. I have to drag him or pick up. I’ll try for a little longer, but I may just have to accept that Myles is a walker, not a runner.

 

 

Myles on the move

 

That’s it. That’s what’s new in a nutshell.