Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I apparently like being Chicago's bitch.

Call me crazy but I love Chicago even with it's high crime, drunken and cracked out homeless people in the fetal position on sidewalks and obsessive honking for no reason. I do. I can't help it.

Which is where I was this past Friday and Saturday, which is why you didn't get posts either of those days. I had the laptop but I figured screw it because I was too tired to give you anything worth while anyways. But that just means I spent more time walking the streets of downtown Chicago to give you this post. I'm a giver like that.

So Friday it starts with us obviously driving the about 8 hours it takes to get to Chicago. Somewhere along the way I had to pee. Obviously. But the cool part is I *finally* got to stop at this food court (there are two of these on the way to Chicago but we stopped at only one of them) that is literally above the highway. It's like a giant sky walk food court and there is a gas station on the side. I've driven to Chicago three times now and I'm just happy to be able to say I've waved at cars like a maniac from the sky walk food court. Never mind we were almost run over by the guy cleaning floors with some giant machine on wheels. Like four times.

No, the thing to mention is that the bathrooms here? Have terrible walls. You know I'm a big critic of public restrooms and although Michigan wins the award for grossest bathrooms ever, this one had bizarre walls that made me instantly dizzy.
 Seriously imagine being surrounded by this. I was so dizzy I felt like a drunk trying to aim into the bowl since of course I'm doing the hovered stance because there is no way my actual ass is touching the seat. It was a challenge, let's just leave it at that.

Once we got to Chicago we checked into our hotel which was super great. It was the Double Tree on East Ohio, and it's great because it's in between Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile so that's handy. After checking in, getting our kind of disgusting warm cookie (they say it's free but you know you're paying for it) we decided to ask the concierge how to get to Gino's East from our hotel since we were just going to walk it. It ended up being 10 blocks, but because I was all "I'm a lost tourist but I'm super friendly" to the concierge, she gave us this nifty pass to not have a wait time to get in. SCORE. It turned out to be a super score because while we waited maybe 5 minutes, we were able to eat and get out in about 90 minutes, and nobody had budged in the line when we came in. See? Being awesome gets you things in life.

 This is my crazy, "I didn't realize I was getting my picture taken face" while texting my friend Emily.
 But then I was all, "Aw.. picture with my friend Tammy!" and so I look normal. Plus, we look great together.
 And then I got a good one of Matt and Chad against the graffiti wall. And yet AGAIN I forgot to bring a neon puffy paint marker. Failure.
 But leave it to those boys to find the penis picture on their seat. AND point it out.

Finally, after like 45 minutes our pizzas came. Tammy and I (picky eaters) shared one and Matt and Chad (human garbage disposals) shared one. Oh, and our little concierge person gave us a ticket for free breadsticks. I can't speak highly enough about this woman.. she rocked out night for sure. Anyways. The pizza was delicious.

So after eating pizza we decided to walk around downtown a bit. I ended up getting a cute shirt at H&M along with a kick ass hair clip and some tights for Olivia. By then we were all kind of exhausted so we headed back to our room.

At this point, I was trying to return some emails and Matt was watching some TV when we get a frantic knock on our door. It was Chad to inform us that hey- you can't lift anything off of that little tray of snacks because you get charged for it. Which was kind of shit because we were picking them up wondering how they have the balls to charge $6 for a bag of M&M's, so Chad made sure that nobody was charged. ROBBERY, this is.
 Anyways. We slept great. We got up early, went to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and headed to Navy Pier. And just an aside- but is there a rule that every Dunkin Donuts is fully staffed with people who barely speak English? Because poor Matt ordered a sandwich and they kept asking him about what donut. I think he ended up with a sad slice of egg (yes, it was a slice... ew) on some weird bread. Anyways. We started walking to Navy Pier only to find... Ohio Street Beach.
 Kind of awesome to have a beach in the middle of downtown??
 So from there we made it to Navy Pier only to find that there is a weird display of wooden signs that read "Fix-Ice Machene". Now, I don't know if this is something with meaning but they spelled machine wrong. Is the Chicago educational system that bad? And why has nobody said to the artist, "Dude- you spelled it wrong. People will think this entire city is full of uneducated dumbasses."?? I don't know. Nobody seemed to know what it meant either.
 But... Navy Pier! This was my first time there, but both of my previous trips didn't allow for time to see it so I totally put my foot down and said- we ARE seeing Navy Pier.
 And guess what? They have a Billy Goat Tavern! That serves Horny Goat mixed drinks!
 While I didn't partake in that since they weren't open, I settled for a picture under the sign.
The other reason I wanted to go to Navy Pier besides it's awesome was because I wanted to ride on a sailboat for my 30/30 list. And since I don't half ass anything, I rode on a tall ship (like a pirate ship.. and this one had a super awesome and knowledgeable pirate narrator!) with massive sails. It was great.
 And the view was kind of amazing despite fog.
 And I basically learned a lot about Chicago, the coastline, etc. Did you know everything east of Lower Michigan Avenue used to be the water? After their massive fires in late 1800's, the city basically flattened the ashes of the old downtown and that's what makes up the east of Lower Michigan Avenue. They also have a rule you can't build tall building there to ruin the skyline, but this black building? Gets around that rule because it's not built on the ground but rather on stilts.
 The sails!
 The view!

After the boat tour we headed to lunch where the boys got authentic Chicago hotdogs. *barf*
 I obviously had a hamburger. Then we took a bus tour of downtown where Chad's chest photo bombed our picture.
 We saw the bean.
 Oh man. It was about 4pm by the time we got into my van to go home. I was kind of exhausted from walking. Which was unfortunate, because it took us exactly one hour and 15 minutes to get out of Chicago.
 We drove for hours until we decided it was time to eat dinner. But by god.. like a beacon on the horizon I saw a Cracker Barrel. You'll remember from my Tennessee trip the amazingness of such a place. And you know I beelined for the jar of sugar suckers. I literally spent my last $12 on ten of these bad boys.
 Matt wouldn't even walk next to me because he was embarrassed. But after leaving the restaurant it was a long drive home. I can't even emphasize how long that drive home was. Usually I get home from Chicago around 10 or 10:30 at night but since we left so much later than usual, we pulled up at our house at 1:30 a.m. Ugh. To say I was a lazy fat ass on Sunday? Understatement.

Overall it was a great trip. I had a lot of fun, I enjoy being a tourist, I learned a lot, and best of all- I'm itching to go back. This time I'd like to go back in March for St. Patricks when they dye the river green. AND I want to go to a play at the Chicago Theatre or somewhere. So we'll see. ;)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Domestic Violets

Oh am I happy to share this book with you. I really am. It's very rare that you find a male author who's not only a good writer but funny. And not just that, but one that can give you a story you can't put down because it's honest and relatable. But Matthew Norman does just that. If you are a man who's married or has been married- you will probably relate to this book and very much enjoy it.

Domestic Violets- Matthew Norman
Domestic Violets: A Novel (P.S.)
Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis

Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.)Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

Without going into the personal trials of my own marriage, I will tell you that this is such a close description of it that it's almost kind of alarming. And I say alarming because to read it from an outsider perspective it makes living it to be a little harsher.

So let me talk about all of the things I really loved about this book in the hopes to sway you to read it. Because I really believe this book highlights the typical marriage so well but what makes this book different is that it shows that adults can be rational, can forgive, and can work towards something better rather than just say, "Screw you, I want a divorce!" because that's just a trigger reaction for someone who isn't willing to be an adult and work through something.

1. Can I just say I really loved Tom Violet? I did. He reminds me so much of Matt from his previous job that reading it in this perspective made me really understand what he was trying to tell me all along but never really could.

2. I appreciated his wife Anna because I knew exactly what she would have been feeling and although I didn't make the choices she does, I certainly wanted to.

3. I loved how funny this book was. It was such a real humor that it feels like this is your buddy calling you up to vent about something and you totally sympathize.

4. Can I just say I love how he resigns? Epic.

5. I loved the ending. I really did. There are not many books that end in a way that makes me think about it long after I finish the book. Was it just fates way of leading his life down another direction? The father and son dynamic of it makes me think of when one door closes, another opens, but in this case, when one generation bows out, another comes in.

One of my favorite passages of the book hit me because it's true. You know this author is married because nobody who is single will ever totally get this:

" Anna and I maneuver through our small bathroom, going about our nighttime routines of brushing and moisturizing. Tonight, we've managed to do it in complete silence. Married silence is a specific kind of silence, typically one in which the woman goes mute while the man pretends as if it's perfectly normal that she hasn't spoken in hours. In the face of conflict with their wives, most men choose to remain oblivious and passive, and I'm no different. Our shoulders touch as she scrubs her face with these little medicated pads. I say excuse me and drop my used floss in the garbage bin. We could be traveling salespeople, sharing a bathroom for some strange reason."

That right there? Is just a sampling of the realistic humor that married people just get and can identify with. I'm so excited to read another Matthew Norman novel because he's got such a talent that can weave a story that sounds like it's a memoir but bring humor to serious situations and it's all good. Everything about this book was good and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Lantern

Here's something I'd never thought I'd review- a historical romance with ghost hauntings! But there's a first for everything and overall... kind of an interesting book.

The Lantern- Deborah Lawrenson
The Lantern: A Novel
Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les Genévriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive.

But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage—one he refuses to talk about—his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers—and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.

Like its owner, Les Genévriers is also changing. Bright, warm rooms have turned cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a presence moving through the garden. Is it a ghost from the past or a manifestation of her current troubles with Dom? Can she trust Dom, or could her life be in danger?

Eve does not know that Les Genévriers has been haunted before. Bénédicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy—long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.

OK, so some things I'll tell you upfront that I didn't like are the long winded-ness of some areas. I bet I could cut out a 1/3 of that book and still feel like I got the entire story. I appreciate character development and scene setting but sometimes... enough is enough. I get how the trees were and the horizon and how they are together.. etc. When it doesn't add something specifically to the story I feel like it should be taken out. I also felt like all of the added fluff made it a little more difficult to read and to follow the story in some areas. There were more than a few sections I had to read again because I got to the end and thought, "What did I miss??". So those two things aside, it was a pretty interesting story. Interesting enough to keep me plugging through it in really slow parts.

What I didn't get until the end are the parallels between the past and the future. The story flip flops between the present day Eve and Dom and the past of Les Genevriers and it wasn't until the end when I realized where the connection was. Though I suspected, I feel like maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I knew more of this in the beginning? I will also say I kind of found Eve to be dumb and Dom to be kind of a jerk? I mostly think if I were in a relationship and Dom was as evasive with me, I would have left long ago. So at times I felt frustrated with both of those characters only because I didn't understand them.

I will say I really enjoyed how the author tied the past and future together. And for the last third of the book I felt like she really gained momentum in finishing the story in a way that would leave readers happy, leave just enough unanswered questions to satisfy you and still leave you thinking the book was enjoyable overall. It's a departure from what I would normally read, but I did enjoy it and found myself feeling satisfied at the end.

You know I never leave you to only take my 98 cents worth, so I recommend you check out the other blog stops on this tour HERE.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Complete Without Kids

No, I haven't given my children away, I'm just reviewing a really great book that I recommend every parent or non parent to read. Super fascinating insight into the world of living child free. And before you click away from this because it's a book review, I invite you to really read though this as I'll be giving some of my 98 cents throughout.

Complete Without Kids- Ellen L. Walker, Ph.D
Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance
In Complete Without Kids, Licensed Clinical Psychologist Ellen L. Walker examines the often-ignored question of what it means to be child free, by choice or by circumstance, in a family-focused society. Recognizing that there is no one child free adult, the author guides the reader through the positive and negative aspects of child free living, taking into consideration the different issues faced by men or women, couples or singles, whether gay or straight. As a woman who is child free by choice, Walker draws upon her personal experience while also offering the reader numerous interviews with other child free adults, revealing behind-the-scenes factors that influenced their personal journeys. She approaches the tough-decision making process of whether or not to have children from a biological, historical, and societal perspective, offering valuable information on: The unique set of problems that child free adults face simply due to living in a culture that celebrates babies and traditional families; Methods to cope with the pressure to have children from media, family, and friends in a healthy way; How to create balance and approach the leisure time allowed by a child free lifestyle and; Financial, health, and personal benefits associated with child free living. Offering support, guidance, and thought-provoking questions, Complete Without Kids is a productive guide for any reader considering the child free path.

So that's the general synopsis so you know what we're talking about. And before I get started into my review, most of you know that I'm a parent of two children. I had my kids in my early 20's and I've been very honest about not knowing what I was doing. Had I known how much work it was really going to be, how emotionally draining it was going to be, how hard it would be on my marriage, and how much of what makes me... well, me would be sucked away I would most definitely thought twice about having kids. That's not to say I don't love my children.

On page 32 I found a line that struck an immediate chord with me: "Dr. Jeffers emphasizes the difference between loving your children and actually enjoying parenting them." and later in that paragraph, "The thing I regret most is that everyone told me how amazingly fulfilling and fun mothering is, without mentioning the negatives, and especially the fact that once you sign on for the job you cannot quit." Those two lines alone sum up my feelings. I love my children dearly but I would by lying if I said that I haven't had many days where I question what the hell I was thinking when I decided I wanted children. The book also raises a really good question about whether discussing being child free by choice is a valid conversation piece to have with young girls in the same breathe as safe sex and/or abstinence. I know with my children I will talk to them openly about these things including how you don't have to have kids. I don't ever want to be that person that pressures my kids for grandchildren because I know first hand how difficult it is to be a parent. Not everybody is cut out for it, yet you don't really hear that in Sex Ed, do you? I know when birth control was discussed it was always, "take it until you're ready to be a parent" but nothing really beyond that.

What's really great about this book is that it doesn't sway your opinion. I didn't walk away from reading this book feeling strongly about either side, I could really relate to both sides. I also felt like the author did a tremendous job talking to real life people from all types of economic standing and backgrounds to really give you a full perspective as to why some people choose to be child free. And those who would like to have kids but can't for a multitude of reasons, there is adequate perspective from them as well.

What I also really valued about this book was the absolute honesty about what parenting does to a marriage. I know most couples think that because they have started their marriage strong that it only helps them with parenting. While that is true, it's good to have a solid marriage before you bring kids to the mix, it fails to recognize what a huge stressor it is to have kids. I will say that every single marital issue Matt and I have ever had was directly related to the stress of parenting. We are no longer the people we were when we got married- not even close. I would venture to say the high divorce rates would be tied, at least in some way, to society's push for people to have children. It was mentioned in this book that childless couples are frowned upon in most circles, not because it's a bad thing but because it's not the norm. The norm is for people to get married, buy a house, have some kids, and live happily ever after yet that rarely happens. Also mentioned in the book was how couples with children find it hard to stay connected and eventually drift apart; therefore it becomes difficult to co-exist once the children are grown. They no longer have the common threads holding them together- those had been long gone. Sure you can go on date nights but people frown on that too, don't they? Most people, usually other parents themselves, will make a person feel guilty for spending time away from their kids. I would venture to say almost all of the time it's because they have feelings of jealousy because that couple can and they can't.

I have struggled with this myself. It took me almost five years to figure out I need alone time. I need time away from my husband and my kids to make myself not cry every single night and to not feel like driving my car off a bridge just to check out. I need that time away to be the quality parent my children deserve and a good wife that my husband needs. But I'll tell you- when I schedule a weekend away, or I sign up for a class, or I go to dinner with a friend I have some people around me that scoff and try to make me feel guilty. And it's too bad because I wish they would support me trying to be a better person for my kids.

Also in this book it talked about how friendships change when you have a childless friend and the rest are mommies. I have a couple of friends who don't have kids or who choose to not have kids and I feel bad. I can't always do what they want because... I have kids. I sometimes feel like they have a hard time connecting with me because we don't have a lot in common? My days are full with crying, chores, and kid related things and that makes it difficult to relate sometimes. I can only imagine how hard it would be to be child less and have all of your friends have children.

So all in all- the book was fascinating. I really enjoyed reading it and for me, I felt better about how I was feeling as a parent. Society frowns upon those of us who are not loving parenthood and all that comes with it and it's too bad. Just because I don't love to sit and play Barbies doesn't make me a bad mom. It just means I was ill-prepared for what I would really be signing up for. I always tell people I know that are having babies or thinking about it to really look at the reasons they want to have a kid. Is it because you want to be loved? Because that's just a temporary fix. I know I wanted kids because it was just what you did when you got married. I never questioned not having kids, I just knew I would because it's just what you do. Sounds a bit archaic when I think about it but how many young women think that right now?

I highly recommend this read for anyone. It really opened my eyes to a lot of different child free living assumptions that I hadn't considered before, several that I haven't mentioned. This is a superb book, very well researched and well written.

Luckily for you, I have a copy to giveaway!! WOOT! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me why you choose to be a parent or why you are choosing to be child free. I'd love to hear your perspective on this topic.

I'll draw a winner for the giveaway on Monday, August 22. Good luck!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In Her Wake

I'm kind of on a memoir roll right now but that's OK because I enjoy memoirs.

In 1963, Nancy Rappaport’s mother died by suicide after a bitter public divorce and custody battle. Nancy was just four years old and the youngest of six children. Growing up in a blended family of eleven children after her father remarried, Nancy was bewildered about why her mother took her own life and left her behind.

Years later, encouraged by her own childrens’ curiosity about their grandmother, and fortified by her training as a child psychiatrist, Nancy began investigating her mother’s life and the mysteries surrounding her death.

Pursuing clues and following leads, Rappaport pieces together a complex mosaic of her mother. Drawing on court depositions, newspaper coverage, her mother’s unpublished novel, and interviews with family and friends, she uncovers the story of a conflicted and troubled activist, socialite, and community leader. She scrutinizes deep family secrets about a woman she only remembers in snapshots.

Rappaport intensely explores the impact of her mothers suicide from the perspective of a daughter, psychiatrist, wife, and mother of three – illuminating in the process the complicated nature of loss, reconciliation, and healing.

So I have to say once I started reading this book I was really worried it was going to be a story of "oh, my life is so awful because my mom isn't here and how will I ever cope" and it wasn't that... so I'm glad. It is a really well written account of the loss of a mother and a life long grief during poignant moments in your life when all you really want is your mom. As a son I don't know that losing a mom at such a young age would be life altering but for a daughter it would be. Certainly growing up the value of having a mother to answer your questions or to explain what your period is and what exactly to do with a tampon is pretty important. So what do you do if you don't have that? I often think women without mothers, or mothers who weren't really mothers anyways, are probably the best in womanhood because they have to do it on their own. They have to learn how to be a lady, run a household, be a partner and raise children on her own. She has no help or guidance, no role model. I know for myself it would be difficult- I lean on my own mother a lot when I encounter something I don't know.

The interesting twist to this book is that Nancy is a child psychiatrist so in writing her story and that of her mothers, she offers insightful information about suicide in general. One of the lines that stuck with me is on page 216:

"But I wonder if surviving my mother's suicide brings with it a certain knowledge that there are limits to keeping people alive if they are determined to kill themselves."

The only part of books that discuss this side of suicide that bother me is that I often feel the survivors are kind of selfish. It's not selfish to mourn the loss of a person who may or may not have had a lot more life to live, that we'd never know. But it is selfish to look only at what you've now loss and compare it to being worse than how the person was feeling before they decided suicide was their only option. And sometimes I think that when you're ready to go you should be able to go. A person only has so much fight in them for life and when you exhaust that, you have nothing to keep you going. It's like a car- once you run out of gas, you're going nowhere. It doesn't matter how big the crowd around you is cheering you on, that car isn't moving without more gas. All the love and cheering in the world doesn't put gas into that car, the driver has to actually make an effort to get the gas. And some people just can't do it anymore. And I respect that. When someone commits suicide I don't grieve their death, I grieve for the loss the survivors feel. That person clearly was at ease with their death and was ready to go, but that doesn't mean others are ready for it.

So over all, I really enjoyed this book. It was an interesting insight to a family, Nancy expertly weaves her thoughts and reflections as an adult to childhood memories into a touching story of her mother's suicide. Also interesting is she included a "Further Reading" section that sounds like it's similar stories or good resources if you've survived a suicide or just the general loss of a significant person in your life.

I highly encourage you to look at the other tour stops (here) to see what other readers are saying, as well as Nancy's website (here).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Though I could barely move, I was still Mother of the Year.

On Facebook the other day I mentioned that I didn't know if I could justify taking my kids to see A Day Out With Thomas the Train when the tickets for the four of us would come to $87. For a twenty minute train ride.

But then we were at the park on Saturday (after my hellish 5K) and Jackson overheard another kid saying HE got to go. And it was AWESOME. Of course, Jackson comes running up to tell me Thomas is in town, Thomas is in town! So obviously, I was immediately faced with that moment where you save the money for say, your vehicle registration which is due by the end of the month and be a terrible mom, OR you blow the money because in a moment of weakness you let your three year old sons enthusiasm and cuteness sway you.

Yes, I bought the tickets for the first ride on Sunday morning. Because someday I hope to hold this over his head when he's 16 and is mad I won't let him take the car. I'll be able to say, "But son, you remember that time I played chicken with the law and let you see Thomas? That's right. Back off punk."

Despite the fact that when I rolled out of bed on Sunday morning my hips felt like they had come out of their sockets and pretty much everything on my body hurt 1000% worse than they did on Saturday, I got the kids ready to head over to the Depot in Duluth for the Thomas the Train day.

We got there and it was advertised as lots of family stuff to do, not just the train. So while we waited for Thomas the kids played in blue sand, watched some lady make huge bubbles and Olivia went down the inflatable slide. All in all, we made it through all of that in 20 minutes.
 And the kids each got a tattoo. Olivia wanted it on her face and Jackson wanted one on his arm.
 Finally we got in line and when I told Jackson to look down the track, he say Thomas and was pretty damn excited.
This was Jackson's first train ride but Olivia had been on it before, so she really didn't care about it. Jackson on the other hand:
 ... thought Thomas's steam and the "peep peep" whistle was pretty awesome. And he got excited once he realized the train was actually moving.

After the twenty minute train ride we went inside of the Depot and we went to the story time, played with the little kid sized train sets (which wasn't as awesome because Jackson has a train set at home), and we met Sir Toppem Hat.
 Jackson was kind of thrilled to meet him. And hugged his leg. But it happened so fast I didn't get a picture of it.
Overall, we spent three hours walking around and I was pretty much unable to do anything when we did get home. I don't know if it was really worth $18/person plus fees, but Jackson is still talking about it. So maybe I did alright after all.

And... the winner of the Rules of the Tunnel giveaway is: #6.

Which is STEFF!! Woo!! I'll send you an email to get your information!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weight Loss Monday... or that time I didn't research enough and almost died.

I know you all want a major update on my weight loss and I have no numbers for you. In fact, it's been MONTHS since I've weighed myself, and I'm OK with that. Mostly because I've been eating shit and so I'm sure that will only reaffirm I'm a fat ass. But I *am* exercising. In fact... I ran a 5K bitches.

Yeah, that's right. Your lambwhore leader is a BADASS who ran (almost all) of a 5K. In under an hour.

Bow Down.

So basically, my friend and coworker Emily and I are training for a half marathon that happens in June. In order to train for this, we're working on our running skillz and figured it we run a series of smaller races, we'd be better prepared for our half marathon. We'd kind of understand the rules, etiquette, and just general feel of different races so we A) don't make assholes of ourselves or B) hurt ourselves and/or others. We're good girls. The race on Saturday was our first, it was a 5K so that makes it 3.1 miles, and it was the Run Like An Animal race.
 Pre race, just happy to have numbers. We feel super official. And I wore my "Fainting Goat Whisperer" shirt for you, Jen!

When we looked up the race it clearly said it was a run "through the zoo", and having been to the zoo I know it has paved sidewalks that are generously wide. I also know it has some hills that suck ass pushing a double stroller up, but it's not horrible. So when they have us line up facing the forest... I was kind of taken aback. The gun goes off and the runners start, they gave us a 15 minute lead before the walkers got to go. We start off strong thinking we've got this shit.
 Meanwhile, Emily's husband and her sister are lounging in chairs. Matt and my kids are playing in the park.
 Completely unaware Emily and I are getting our asses handed to us. Here are some facts about the race course we did not know:
  • It was mostly a TRAIL run. Trail = hard. Trail running really means you should have special shoes with say.... traction on them.
  • The race is almost entire uphill.
  • Having the ability to hurdle giant areas of mud and/or puddles as well as tree branches is a plus.
I basically felt like this was some kind of sick relay. Emily and I were running and running and running, almost dying as we hurdle over things in the completely ungroomed path. There are steep grassy hills we're going down that are completely slick as shit because it's wet from morning dew, the other steep embankments are just loose gravel so you kind of slide down it. And as we're heading toward the start/finish area, I'm like, "praise baby jeebus" because we thought FOR SURE we were almost done. Um, no. The lady was like, "You're almost half done!" I'm sorry- jigga say what? "Almost" half done? So we decided we were going to get to the half way and then walk a bit.
 So that's us getting to the half way point.
 And me trying to look like I'm not going to die.
 And this is me swearing that I am going to die. But back into the bowels of the forest we go for *yay* another 1.5 miles.

That leg of the race was even worse. I'm not kidding you when I say that a good mile of it was completely uphill a mostly dirt/gravel/mud/uneven surface area. At this point we were doing the run/walk alternating and that was going fairly well. She's a much faster funner than I am, but I was able to keep up pretty well and in all, I'm glad I had her with me because I would have said "fuck this shit" at the half way point.

We got passed by old people. And kids. But we passed the bridal party (yes, there was a bride and her bridesmaids running) and we stayed ahead. We also finished before a bunch of skinny bitches who looked like they knew what they were doing, so that's kind of awesome.
The important thing is that we finished. We finished that bitch in 47 minutes (though Matt believes it may have been closer to 45), and our goal was to finish in under an hour. And considering that the race route was everything we had not trained for I'm thrilled that we did as well as we did. I'll tell you one thing, running in a skort is SO much nicer than shorts. Except this one was spandex-y and I was sweating so bad that I literally could not tell if I was just sweating and it was pooling or if I peed. But I'm like 99% sure it was sweat because I peed a lot when I got home. So.. win. The other awesome thing is that the first people to finish were done at 20 minutes and they were all hard core runners who said the route was brutal, so that made me feel even more badass. Like we should have gotten more than a damn shirt.
So thanks, Emily- for not letting me give up even though I felt like dying. I promise to actually call the race people and specifically ask if we're on 100% paved road or not the next time!

Our next race is the Minnesota Mile in September, and then the Gobble Gallop in November.

But you should know that my badassness was short lived. Mostly because after I got home to shower, we were supposed to go to a family picnic but yeah. I could barely move. Horrible planning. I fell asleep and wasted the ENTIRE day sleeping and being in pain. Yesterday was even WORSE because I felt like my hips were completely out of their sockets. My shins and ankles hurt like bitches today yet. But.. no pain, no gain? The daunting thing is knowing that Saturdays are going to be my long run days and ugh. Am I going to feel like this every single Sunday? Because that kind of blows shit.