Thursday, February 25

Saturday, Mike and I and our sherpa (my very dear mother) are going to be running our second and last 20 miler before the marathon. Unfortunately the forecast calls for rain, the entire day. So far in my running career I haven't had to do much running in the rain so I am actually kind of nerding out and am excited about it. On Tuesday we did a 5 miler in the rain that was fun, how much worse can a 20 miler be? Maybe running 20 miles in the rain will finally get me over the hump of feeling like a "real runner".

And how great is my mom?? She doesn't care at all that it is going to be raining and is willing and actually happy to ride her bike 20 miles in the cold and rain, carrying a backpack full of supplies and I guarantee there will not be one complaint out of her. I am pretty lucky to have her as my sherpa AND espcially as my mom:)

And speaking of lucky, I had an experience yesterday while on a run that made me feel very lucky that I am able bodied and healthy. We were at the tail end of a 8 miler and I was feeling a little bit sluggish. We were running past the Vet Building in downtown Clovis when I looked up and saw what I believe was a disabled vet in a wheelchair sitting in front of the building watching us run by. I thought about how I would feel if I were in his position, stuck in a chair and literally watcing the world go by. I know personally I would have a very hard time with that. I wondered if when he saw us he remembered a time when he was able to run. I wondered if when he closed his eyes if he could remember the sensation of running; feeling the wind on his skin, the pump of his arms, the power of his legs, the beating of his heart. It quickly snapped me out of my sluggishness and I ran the rest of the way, which was about a half a mile, not thinking about how heavy and tired my legs felt but how lucky I was to have legs that felt heavy and tired.

Wednesday, February 24

Pictures of Things

Here are some pictures of things that are completely unrelated except their reflection of my life at the moment.

First, I did some re-arranging of our master bedroom so we could put up one of the Valentine's Day presents I made Mike:

Since we got a new dresser I also moved my old dresser to the side of my bed so I could still have that storage and also a night stand. I really like my "art" on the wall there. I am not crazy about my mirror arrangement over the bed though. I might replce those with some round mirrors instead.

I had to take down my three Pancho Villa posters to put the sign up there but I still absolutely adore them and I didn't want to take the down completely so I put the over our new dresser and brought in a snake plant:
And I swear I did not place my cowboy boots there for the pic, they have been there for a few weeks as I keep forgetting to put them away. Not a bad touch though;)

I had dinner with Kendall on Saturday and brought her some flowers from my yard. I also added some branches from another bush to spruce things up:

A few weeks ago Mike and I took Nika to a park near us so she could stretch her legs a bit and have fun. I don't know how much weight she has lost but her diet and consistent exercise has really made a difference and she is looking really good.
Since she is going to be doing a lot of hiking with us this summer we need to make sure she is in shape and ready to go and by the looks of things she is well on her way. She also loves running full throttle.

Nika made a friend at the park, a dog named Nitzy.
She looked like a muppet:)

And in other Nika news, she got herself into a little bit of trouble Sunday night. Mike and I were eating dinner on the couch and Nika has figured out that I drop food while I am eating because she likes to lay underneath the coffee table with her head at my feet waiting for tasty morsels. I don't really mind because I indeed can't keep the food on the fork and it is less for me to clean up. This time however she was fixated on something under the couch. I bent over to see what she was looking at and one of her balls had rolled underneath so I grabbed it and tossed it towards her bed. Well that was stupid of me because she is underneath the coffee table and before I knew it she had scrambled to get the ball, hit the table hard and spilled both of our drinks. There is nothing graceful about that dog, she is a bull in a china shop.

Mike and I jump up to go get towels to pick up the spilled drinks and as Mike is coming back in I hear him say "Nika!" and I ask what is going on and she had taken the pork chop off of my plate and was chowing down. I am convinced she planned the whole thing.

Those are just some snap shots of my life:)

Moroccan Oil

If you want super shiny and soft hair that smells really good, I highly reccomend you invest in some Moroccan oil. Moroccan oil is an oil treatment for all hair types. I have fine hair strands but I have a lot of them so my hair looks pretty thick and has a tendancy to be oily so I was a little apprehnsive that it would make my hair more oily but it didn't. It is instantly absorbed into the hair, and eliminates frizz, speeds up styling time by 40%, and provides long-term conditioning to all hair types (all of this according to their product description).

I was intrigued, what girl doesn't want healthy, shiny looking hair? So I bought a small bottle to test it out. I got it in the mail yesterday and was eager to try it out this morning even though the weather is less than ideal. I used 2 drops that I rubbed in my palms and smoothed through my hair while it was still wet and blow dried as usual. My hair is super long now and blow drying takes awhile but I really do feel it was sped up slightly by using this stuff, although by 40% may be a bit of an exaggeration.

Once it was dry it was incredibly shiny and ooooh weee, it smells nice. Once it cooled down from the blow dryer it was also very soft and I didn't even need to put the serum on I usualy do to smooth fly aways.

Here is the bottle line though, it is somewhat expensive. For me at least, I don't spend a lot of money on products so 14 bucks for a .85 oz felt a bit ridiculous. However since I only use 2 drops, it should last a decent amount of time and I am quite sure I will be paying 30 for the larger bottle when this runs out. I can't stop touching and smelling my hair and it is a noticeable difference.

I ordered from Amazon and they have a whole line of these products but for now I am sticking with just the oil because it does a fantastic job on its own.

Tuesday, February 23

Tip of The Day

This weekend I was doing some re-arranging in our bedroom and while I was placing a plant on our brand new dresser, I scratched it not once but twice. Sure it was only an Ikea dresser but it was brand spanking new and now had these ugly scratched on it!

I fortunately has just read a post the day before from one of my decorating blogs I frequent that said to use walnuts to buff out scratches on furniture. I am guessing it has something to do with the oil in the nut (?) but I rubbed it along the scratch and the more I rubbed the darker it got until I could see it no longer. Magic! And it only cost the price of 1 walnut:)

Wednesday, February 17

Pictures from around the house

Here are a few pictures I quickly snapped on my phone yesterday.

First, the daffodils that have sprung up:

There are still a lot of them that have not yet bloomed so I will probably have these flowers to look at for a week or two more.

Second, I bought 2 chairs for the patio at Home Depot this weekend. I love the bright lime green color, they are quite comfortable and only 16 bucks a piece:

I imagine having a cup of coffee and reading the paper there on weekend mornings (you know when I am not running 40 miles a week and have the time for a life) or a glass of wine in the evening. We grill at least 3 days a week most weeks so they will be getting a lot of use. Also in that picture is the table I have not yet painted.

Finally, I finished my art project for Mike:
You may recognize the lyric from the Dave Matthew's Band song Crush. It is one of Mike's favorite songs so even though I had to get a new piece of plywood so it would fit, it was worth the extra effort. We are going to put this up in the bedroom but I wasn't sure how to hang it so we are going to figure that out this weekend and I will take another picture. He loved it though and so do I.

Tuesday, February 16

A Little Sunshine

There have been an army of bulbs that have been sprouting green stalks over the past few weeks in my backyard and this weekend they really started blooming. I now have an army of beautiful yellow, happy daffodils in my backyard, what a lovely suprise!

I cut a few of them and made an arrangement for my mom. A little bit of sunshine on a vase for a happy Tuesday:

Thursday, February 11

Things I Saw While Running Yesterday

Since it is staying lighter later in the day, Mike and I have taken advantage and are running almost all of our miles outside now which is wonderful and also entertaining. We usually start at the Lowe's on Clovis and Shaw and take the trail from there.

Yesterday we were almost to the first stoplight past Lowe's when we hear and loud thunk along with some screeching tires. I look up to see an SUV with one spare tire on, jumping up onto the curb, correcting and then going back to the road. The car was stopped at the light so I looked over to see who was driving and it was a woman driving looking a bit frazzled. I was expecting to see someone who looked a bit sheepish but I guess she wasn't having a great day, having tire troubles and driving up on curbs and all.

Not to be outdone though, a mere half a block later I hear another crash and look up to see a man on a bike getting taken out by a bush. He was coming around the corner and the bush was encrouching on the sidewalk but really I think this guy was just drunk. He got back up and started riding off and he looked a

I really am not super comfortable with the section of trail behind American Tires before you get to Clark Intermediate School. There are always some shady characters lurking about. Running there is always better than running on a treadmill though and also more entertaining.

Monday, February 8

Real Runners

I still, and probably always will, have difficulty calling myself a runner. I know I put in the work to be a runner and have run many miles in my lifetime, but to do this day anytime I pass someone on the trail that looks like a runner to me, I immediately feel like I am a poser and this real runner will look at me and know it.

I can't see what I look like when I run because I obviously don't run in front of a mirror. Sometimes I will run past a storefront and crane my neck to try to get a look at myself but I don't want to look like a vain egomaniac or risk running into something because I was looking at myself. I am not even sure I really want to know what I look like when I run. Although there is a chance that it would put my fears of not looking like a runner to rest, there is a much bigger chance that my fears will be verified - I look like a dork. Ignorance is bliss and I am ok with that.

The thing about running is anyone can do it so no one teaches you how to run. People act as if you are born with an inane sense of how to run properly but if you have ever seen someone running with an awkward or unusual gait you know that can't possibly be true. Baring any physical disability anyone can get from Point A to Point B in some sort of running state, but looking like a graceful gazel, not so easy. What I do know about me is that some days I do feel a little gazel like - or maybe a slightly less graceful creature like a mule. But other days I feel like I am clumbsily laboring along like Frakenstein. Every step feels awkward and I can't get any sort of flow going as I jerk along. This is running though, you don't always know what your legs and your body are going to do or how they are going to feel so you just have to go with it, hence the mental strength running teaches you. It doesn't matter how many miles you have run in your lifetime either, every runner has those runs. But there is something you can do that can help.

For the past few outside runs Mike and I have gone on we have changed it up a bit and left the ipods at home. We don't talk incessently so there is a great deal of quiet where we are inthralled in our own thoughts and there has been two effects from running without music blasting in your ears. First, I feel like I can more easily find my rythm. When you have music on it can be sometimes helpful and sometimes difficult depending on the beat of the song. My music is never consistent in tempo so there is a constant shift going on while I try to keep a consistent pace. Without music my body relaxes into a pace and rythm that feels more natural because it isn't influenced by anything. My body runs the way it wants to.

The second effect has been that I have felt more like a real runner. For me real or pure runners are the runners who don't need to be distracted by music but enjoy running so much all they need is a pair of shoes and their thoughts to hit the road or trail. In the past I have not listened to music while running for safety reasons (like it was dark outside) or because my ipod was broken or my mom was being my sherpa and I didn't want to be rude and ignore her the whole way. I had never gone sans Ipod by choice though. It feels good to be a minimalist, pure runner and get out there music free. I could hear the birds singing, the rhytmic shuffling of our feet, Mike farting, me farting, it was a beautiful thing.

I have no plans on putting the ipod away entirely, but perhaps doing it more frequently will help me to accept the fact that yeah, I actually just might be a real runner. Whatever that means.
Well plans don't always work out the way you want them to. Although Mike and I did make it to Costco and quite enjoyed ourselves, nothing else I had planned so much worked out.

I started the art project, primed a piece of plywood and started to place the vinyl letters before I realized that I would run out of some letters. So I went to Office Max to get (2) more sets of letters and went back home and began cutting them out so I could place them without sticking them down. I had everything cut out and quickly realized that I would not have enough room on this piece of plywood for all the words. Shit! Obviously, I didn't so much plan the details of this project very well. I needed to go to Lowe's and get more plywood and paint for the table-which I didn't get to-and find the numbers for my house, which I also didn't get to buying or put up but it was already fairly late so I just wasn't able to get to it this weekend.

The art project is all ready to go now though and won't take long now to put it together once I get the plywood. Oh well, I really just wanted it done by Valentines day anyway.

We did manage to run a 13 miler and a 5 miler this weekend. Next weekend is the first big 20 miler so I am looking forward to that. We also went to my parents house for Super Bowl and had a ridiculous amount of food. My dad made deep fried catfish, hush puppies, chicken wings and grilled beef and chicken skewers and about 10 different homemade sauces and dips. It was delicious and worth having to watch my dad and his 2 friends do shots of whiskey and groove out to John Fogherty at commercial breaks. It was a good game too and Mike won 50 bucks. I lost 10. Boo hiss!

Friday, February 5

Big Friday Night Plans!

So it is Friday and my big plans for the evening are to go to Costco and Lowes with Mike and maybe have dinner out, and I am actually quite excited about it and for the record, so is he. Yes we might as well be an old married couple right now but I am ok with that because I am quite happy and content being "boring".

I am always working on the house so trips to those stores always means I aquire something new or that I am starting a new project for the house - and I am having a BLAST working on the house. There is still a lot to do and probably always will be. I plan on pulling out just about all the plants in the front yard except the tree and starting over this spring. I want plants with lower profile and I am just not a fan of the taller shrubs out front right now. They are just ugly and dull.

This weekend though I am going to be working on smaller scale projects like replacing the house numbers and I am going to be building a little art project I found instructions for:
The project here is the statement sign and the link has directions on how to do that if you are interested. I am doing light gray and white paint but I haven't finalized what words I am going to use.

I have also been lusting after these patio chairs at Lowe's that I may have to pick up:
They have a retro flair, I love the bright colors (they also have them in yellow and blue)and they are comfortable. My patio is pretty casual so they would fit in perfectly.

I recently aquired this old cable spool that is in terrible condition but looks similar to this: that I want to slap a coat of paint over and clean up a bit as well.

Those projects, plus a shorter long run of only 13 miles and superbowl party will make this weekend pretty action packed. Old boring couples can keep themselves quite busy!

Thursday, February 4

Today is my moms suprise retirement party. She won't be completely gone from the office, but she will only come in to run the bids on bid days and deliver office supplies on occassion. Her real work is done though so today the field guys are coming in and we are having cake and my Dad told everyone to bring in gag gifts.

Sometimes I think I must know my mom better than my Dad does though. I wasn't thrilled that we were just doing cake and not lunch, but he wanted to invite the field guys and they couldn't get off during the day for lunch so I understood. Then telling everyne to bring gag gifts is fine, but I think you should balance that with a genuine and nice gift as well. She has worked for my Dad for over 10 years and never got a pay check and she has sacrificed a lot of herself. This business was not her dream but my Dad's dream and she selflessly supported him on it and yes this contributed to her own livlihood, but she never loved it the way my Dad does.

Then the icing on the cake (excuse the pun) was the cake itself. He wanted it to say "We are putting Marty out to Pasture" and put green icing on the cake and a sheep. Ok so I know where he is going with this but I also know my mom and she would probably be offended a bit at the old, useless reference, especially since all the gifts are gag gifts and all she is getting is a crummy cake. She never really felt appreciated for all she has done here so I think this might feel like another instance where she isn't truly being praised or congratulated. This of course is not my Dads intention so I made the executive decision to go a different route. Luckily at Costco you don't have a lot of options so I told him they couldn't do it and got a nice, pretty cake that says "Happy Retirement Marty!".

I also didn't get her a gag gift but a cook book since she has been talking about wanting to get back to cooking nice meals now that she has the time and the book "The Last Lecture" which is about how to live and appreciate every moment. I think she will enjoy them both, especially now that she has the time to read them.

I forgot to wrap the gift though so I made do with an old project schedule and rubber bands. I thought it looked pretty good, considering:

I am very excited about my mom retiring and moving on to a new phase in her life. She hasn't really done anything for herslf since my sister and I were born and it is well overdue that she starts doing what is best for her and finding her happiness. Who knows what she will do but at this point, her options are wide open and that is just fantastic. I also think it will change our relationship. When I see my Mom on a daily basis at work, I don't neccessarily want to hang out with her on weekends. However we don't get into meaningful conversations at work so we miss out on that quality communication and bonding. Last weekend she was Mike and my sherpa when we ran an 18 miler and that was great because we chatted the entire time (no ipod at all!) and then went out to lunch after. That was the quality conversing that I have missed and I look forward to doing more of that in the future as well as having a greater desire to do that because I wouldn't have seen her the entire week.

I think for everyone in the family, my mom retiring is for the best, so cheers to her.

Tuesday, February 2

ARF Fundraising

Please help us raise money for Animal Rescue of Fresno! As some of you may know, Mike and I are running the L.A. Marathon together on March 21st. After adopting Nika, we decided we also wanted to fundraise for this organization since we had such a wonderful experience. ARF is almost funded entirely from donations so they will really benefit from any donation that you can make. ARF primarily gets their dogs from kill shelters so every dog they have for adoption is one that has been be saved from being put to sleep. The more dogs they can adopt out, the more dogs can be saved which requires financial resources from people like you and I.

You can make a secure online donation at here.

Mike, Nika and I greatly appreciate any donation you may be able to make. Thank you in advance for your generosity. Nika would say thank you herself but she is too busy chewing on her kooky chicken.