Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Domestic Nerd Saturday Project

While at my sister's house in Enoch last week I was impressed by a drop down shelf she had put into a high cupboard, I love handy little things like that. Like many people, my spice cupboard is my nemesis and I have to reorganize it every few months and yet it's almost immediately a mess again. So, per my sister's help in finding the rack (which took two different Wal-marts, thank you very much) I finally found them and bought three. (The Cheetos wrapper is not mine, I swear)

Here's what the two cupboards looked like before:

It took me the better part of an hour to empty and install the shelves. I used a tape measure, Phillips screwdriver, and a drill and did have to take off one cabinet doors and rearrange the shelve heights to make sure the pull down shelf would fit.  I only drilled the holes wrong SIX TIMES; I'm extraordinarily handy like that. In the end, however, the cupboards looked like this:

When you pull down the shelves, they look like this--no more hunting past bottles to try and find the one I need:

I fit all the same spices and medications in the cupboards as I did before. I did not bleed at any time in this process, didn't even swear! And I've left the cupboards open most of the evening so I can smile at my accomplishments. I love it when things work out! I'm sure the drill will sit on the counter for a week before I put it back in the garage.

Lee than treated me to sushi at Tona's in Ogden. All in all, a very good day.

I hope you had an equally satisfying Saturday!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

St. George Half Marathon 2012 Report

Today, January 21 2012, I ran the St. George 1/2 Marathon. This was my first time running this particular race, but the second St. George race I'd run (the first was Snow Canyon 2011). I think I really like St. George races. Because I live in Northern Utah, I'm almost convinced that coming down in elevation helps me, since my more northern races have been slower than both of these Southern Utah runs, but I have no scientific proof of this. Anyway, here's my recap.

I have never run in the winter. I enjoy running spring through fall, but I always stop running when it gets cold, then pick it up again in the spring. This year, I wanted to keep up my running throughout the winter specifically in hopes of getting faster. I have no doubt that running with my friend Holly Freeman made a HUGE difference in my speed. She is passionate about fitness and fitness goals and she and I have run about once a week since October. She runs faster than I do, much faster, but her slow runs are my fast ones and keeping up with her, learning to do intervals, and braving hills was a huge help to me. I only ran about 10 miles a week until early December, when I began increasing my runs. I didn't follow a set training schedule, I just tried to run 3 or 4 days a week, usually 3-5 mile runs and then a longer run somewhere that week. I didn't get over 20 miles a week until the two weeks before the race, then tapered to 4 miles Monday, 3 miles Tuesday, and 2 miles Wednesday the week of the race per my friend Jaime Theler's advice and reference to Hal Higdon's training schedule.

I'd been in Cedar City for some promotional things and presentations the days before the run, so Friday night my two favorite Crystals (I have a sister and a sister in law named Crystal--they are both wonderful) came with me to St. George where I'd rented a hotel room. We went to the Dixie Expo Center first to get my packet, where I had to serpentine through all these booths and such to get to where I picked it up. Brilliant to make us walk through the expo to get to the end. After I got my number, we went to a movie (Tower Heist) where I ate 1/2 a jumbo tub of popcorn and then went to dinner at Olive garden where I finished the carb-fest. We got to the hotel a little after 10:00 and I took a Tylenol PM. I slept pretty well and woke up at 7:45 to get ready. My sister drove me to the Dixie Expo Center, where the race started. It had rained during the night and was still sprinkling when we got to the race. I ate 3 shot-blocks for energy and drank some water before she dropped me off, then stayed inside the Expo Center and stretched--ran into Jill Dallon from Brigham City--and waited for the race to start. I had worn my long sleeved running shirt, a jacket, gloves, and a hoodie, because it was cold, but I peeled off the jacket and hoodie right before the race started and began looking for a place to put my drop bag. None of the volunteers knew where it was, none of the runners did either. I ended up stashing it under a tree next to some other ones. My cell phone was in there, as was $80 worth of gear, so I was nervous, but I didn't feel like I had a choice. The next clothing drop wasn't until mile 2.

The race put "pacers" into the race who held signs proclaiming how fast they were running so you could run with them--I'd never seen this before but really liked it. I started with the 2:10 crowd, but passed the pacers about 2 miles into the run in hopes of catching up with the 2:00 pacers, but I never even saw them. It was sprinkling, but just barely and the temperature was perfect--about 35ish degrees, I think. The first 8 miles was a lot of uphill, I was so glad I'd trained on hills with Holly, but they weren't steep, more of rolling, and wound through neighborhoods. The streets were well "manned" by volunteers and barricaded off, if felt very safe. I took the 5 hour energy I'd hidden in my secret pocket at about mile 6--I was feeling good but didn't want to burn out. At about mile 7 1/2, a seasoned pro passed and told us that it was all downhill from that point forward. Thank goodness! Around mile 8 I met a gal named Erica, also running alone. She and I talked and ran together for about 3 miles, which was wonderful. We were pretty evenly paced and conversation is always a welcome distraction. The race went from roads to a bike path that followed the river, very nicely paved with beautiful views into St. George. At mile 11 I was feeling good so I sped up a little bit. The rain increased about this time, but it wasn't obnoxious, I just had to keep wiping the water from my face. At mile 12 I was still feeling good so I sped up even more. I had hoped to come in close to 2:10, and was thrilled to come in at 2:07:10 instead.

At the end of the race they snipped off my chip, gave me a medal, and the finish line led right through the after-run snacks. I came through the snack line to find my sister waiting for me, which was wonderful. She's a great cheerleader.

I decided not to wait around for the awards, I was soaked, or my official time. By my GPS watch I was 7:29, but I had set it before I crossed the line. My stuff was still under the tree, so I picked it up and got back to the hotel in time to take a shower before out late check out was over with. Once back at the hotel, soaking wet, I realized I hadn't brought a change of underwear--I wear LDS temple garments and somehow left all the clean ones at my sister's house. Luckily, they sell them in town so I took an extra long shower while my sister picked me up a pair. I'd run in the ones I had and there was no way I could wear them twice. I was very grateful that it worked out as well as it did. I felt good enough to go shopping and get lunch and enjoy our free time before we had to return to Cedar.

In summary, I really liked the course which was a challenging one for me in regard to the hills, but definitely doable. I liked the organization of the race as well, all the information I got leading up to the race was well stated and easy to follow. The after-run snacks were good, the weather, though I was worried about it, was quite perfect. My training was really good and I had a great experience over all. I purchased some Altra shoes before I got serious about the training in December and feel like I can now proclaim how much I LOVE them. I've put about 80 miles into them and have had no knee or arch pain since using them. They are barefoot running shoes which are supposed to make your body move more naturally, and I am converted. You can find more info at

What I didn't like was that the volunteers I interacted with weren't super in-the-know, they seemed to know their job, but not much else. I never found the drop site before the race and would have liked to have put my stuff in a safer place. The shirts were men's cuts, and the small is big on me so I will probably never wear it, which is a shame because it's very well designed. I have also accepted that I must get better running pants. The ones I've been running in are cotton and with the rain they were soggy and heavy and stuck under my shoes by the end. I definitely need new pants.

I had a really good day and now have a new PR to beat at my next race, which is still up in the air. There are a few I'm looking into, but none that are "singing" to me just yet. I'm sure enjoying running right now in my life, I think it might be my version of an antidepressant as I just feel better when I'm consistent with it. Thanks to everyone who's been such a support to me, I appreciate it very much.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

And Here it is, 2012

I think I wrote 8 blogs in 2011, I didn't read other people's blogs much more often than that. There was a time when I wrote 3-4 times a week, which mostly serves as a commentary on how things change and the necessity to revise the way I spend my time. However, I really like reporting on my goals and setting new ones so here I am, giving my report and signing up for a new list of challenges that, even if I don't reach the goal, makes me better than I was before I set it.

Report on 2011:

1--Love my body. I made progress in this area despite the fact that I'm a few pounds heavier than I was this time last year.

How do I feel about that?

Really good. I turned 37 years old in 2011, my husband turned 40 and I am mindful of the changes age makes, however, I am very pleased with how I am moving into these monumental years. I'm heavier than I've been, but I think I'm in better shape. I feel stronger. I sleep well, I can physically do pretty much whatever I want. If I decided, tomorrow, to take up rowing, or rock climbing, or dancing in one form or another, I could do it. I have the base I need. I love that feeling and though I'm not fitting into the clothes I would prefer and some of my 'shape' isn't the shape I want to be, I'm quite pleased with where I am and it feels SO good to feel good about those things.

2--Run a 1/2 Marathon in 2:10--Um, no. In fact my fastest time was 8 minutes slower than my slowest time in 2010.

How do I feel about that?

Not too bad, really. I ended up with unexpected gallbladder surgery in June that seriously interfered with my running goals, and yet I still managed to run two 1/2 marathons. I was slower, but I did them and they were great experiences.

3--Complete 3 novels--Totally did it! I finished "Pumpkin Roll" and "Banana Split"--books 6 and 7 in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series--and "Daisy" which is my contribution to a parallel novel series written with three of my favorite writers. You can learn more about that series on the blog dedicated to the books.

How do I feel about that?

Stinkin awesome! Could not be more pleased with how my writing career is going. I'm humbled by the continual opportunities and proud of myself for making it work. Daisy was a joy to write, a good break from Sadie, though I do love her so, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing with Heather, Annette, and Julie.

4--52 Thank You Cards--Totally did this one, and I think I sent closer to 70 cards instead of the 52 I had planned.

How do I feel about that?

Really good. Having set this as a goal kept me more aware of the things people around me do. I sent cards to kids who spoke in primary who I could tell were nervous but did it anyway. I sent thank you cards to people who deserved it long before I ever took the time to say so. I tried to make note of those moments that were such a part of someone's nature that I usually just glossed it over with "Oh, she likes to do that kind of thing." And I so enjoyed this experience.

5--Keep a Better House--I've definitely improved.

How do I feel about that?

Great. A clean home makes me feel better. It's that simple and I have worked hard to keep up on the day to day as well as work on the deep cleaning before it's drowning me. Right now, though there isn't a room in my house that's perfect, I feel good about the state of my home. I know where most things are and I feel like I'm being a good steward of the temporal blessings I've been given.

6--Develop and Follow a menu plan--epic fail. I did worse this year than last year. Boo.

How do I feel about that?

Frustrated, like I did last year when I didn't meet this goal. I love to eat dinner with my family, so why don't I make it happen? There are weeks when I cook one meal and all the other nights just expect everyone to fend for themselves. I hate it, but am really struggling to get into a rhythm. I'm honestly not sure where to start.

7--Expand and keep up on my freelance work--Did it, but not in the way I expected to. I didn't write any articles, but I did some web copy writing work that I really enjoyed.

How do I feel about that?

Good. The essence of the goal was for me to be developing my other writing skills outside of novel writing which I feel makes me a better writer overall and keeps me from becoming to overwhelmed with my fiction. Taking on the freelance projects definitely changed things up for me and helped me learn new skills. And I loved doing web content and hope do do more of it in the future.

Goals for 2012:

1--Run a 1/2 marathon in 2:10. I think I can do this with proper training and consistency. I am also nearly out of expendable organs so I don't forsee having to have anything surgically removed this year.

2--Sit down meal twice a week. I need to get over some of the things that get in my way like not having everyone home, not being in the mood, and not having the ingredients. If I plan on two full meals a week where whoever is home sits down together, I should be able to pull it off. I can have the ingredients on hand and make it happen. Maybe if I do this and have positive experiences with it, I will be better motivated to do it more often.

3--Take a crochet class. I really like handiwork and I really like crochet, but I can only do two stitches. I'd like to take at least one crochet class and improve my skills. I'd love to be able to crochet baby blankets by the time I'm a grandma, which could very well happen in the next five years. I used to put myself into learning all kinds of things but as my writing has taken off I have focused primarily on those skills that benefit my career. I'd like to expand into some other things.

4--Journal once a month. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I've read over my journal of the last five years and average about 3 entries a year. I'd like to do better and so will try to journal on the first Sunday of each month.

5--Attend the temple once a month. This is a hard goal for me. I know it's not politically correct to say so, but I don't love going to the temple. I feel good there and I'm glad when I go, but I rarely have really powerful experiences and it becomes easy for me to be off. For me, I think attending is more a matter of obedience than seeking revelation, but I want to do better. I only attend two or three times this year and I don't think I've ever gone 12 times in a year so this will be a good spiritual goal for me to work toward.

6--Be nice. Both in words and in thoughts, I would like to be a nicer person. I would like people to feel better for having been with me, and I would like to focus on good things more than negative. This isn't something that comes easy to me but one I've made enough progress on to know that setting my mind to it makes it a possibility. I'm not sure how I'll measure it, but I would like to feel 'nicer' by 2013.

Come back next year and we'll see how I did :-)